Sunday, September 11, 2011

Walking down memory lane: teacher's expectations

I was re-reading one of the books on classroom management and when I came to the part about teacher's expectation, an old memory from high school resurfaced. When I was in the 10th grade, my family moved to a different town and I was transferred to a new high school. The guidance counselor placed me in AP History, telling me that it was a special class, handpicked by the teacher, but since my grades from my other school showed that I can handle the challenge, she had decided to place me in his class. I didn't think anything about it.

On my first day of class, the first thing the teacher conveyed to me, in front of the whole class, was that he didn't choose me to be in his classroom since all of his students were special. Imagine how I'd felt: he was saying in so many words that I didn't belong there. Two days later, we had a test and I scored a 98, the highest in the class. Imagine his surprise. The students' attitude toward me changed, because the attitude of the teacher also changed: he praised me and complimented me for doing so well having only been in the class for a few days. 

He turned out to be a not-so-bad teacher who did care for his students. Regardless, had I been someone less capable, or had I gave in to his low expectation of me, or had low self-esteem, and ended up doing poorly in his class -- my entire year in his class would have been a disaster for my personal development. Who knows what kind of emotional scars I would have had of that incident. Even now, even though I did well in the class I aced it, I still remembered the incident, over 20 years later.

Teachers are the beacons of hope and light for students -- how we guide them will shape and mold them for the rest of their lives. 

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