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Developing Relationships and High Expectations RUNNING HEAD: DEVELOPING RELATIONSHIPS

Developing Relationships and High Expectations for Student Learning Analysis Dianne J.E. Kraus Wilkes University

Developing Relationships and High Expectations for Student Learning Instructional Need An area of instructional need for the AVID 10 Elective/AVID Biology classroom at Dundee-Crown high school is for the teacher to improve the affective tone in the classroom

through identification of the low expectancy and the high expectancy students at the beginning of each semester. The survey that is used to identify a teachers personal biases is an empowering tool for improving student motivation, for adjusting the culture of the classroom, and increasing student achievement. A low expectancy student is identified based on criteria for the behavior of the teacher and the attitudes of the teacher, and is not a measure of student ability. (Marzano, 2007) The teacher has the opportunity to change behaviors that will affect student-teacher interactions, and as a result, change the academic expectations and achievement of the lowexpectancy students. As a result of this awareness, student-student relationships improve due to behaviors modeled by the teacher, and an improvement in the affective tone of the classroom is established. Low-expectancy students gain confidence and show increased response rates when the teacher demonstrates value and respect for all students. Insight The most insightful experience of the course for Developing Relationships and High Expectations for Student Learning was the identification of the low-expectancy students. (Marzano, 2007) It was enlightening to learn that personal biases exist and that they can have such a profound effect on student performance. The survey and the assignments connected with identifying teacher behaviors such as smiling, close proximity, asking higher-order questions, making eye contact, providing verbal insights and appropriate physical contact made it clear that even with the best intentions, teacher behavior can impede student

Developing Relationships and High Expectations for Student Learning achievement. For each teacher these biases are different and all teachers should be made

aware of this strategy for improvement because it yields an effect size of .29. (Marzano, 2007) There are differences in affective tone for high and low expectancy students, and research has shown that teachers praise low expectancy students less, seat lows farther away, exhibit less friendly behavior to lows, give less feedback and give the least wait time to lows. (Marzano, 2007) Overall, the teachers have lower expectations for low-expectancy students as compared to high expectancy students. During the past two months, the affective tone in the classroom has been addressed with positive results. The teacher is exhibiting high expectations, trust and value for all students by changing behaviors to meet the needs of all students. The teachers asks low expectancy students to elaborate on their answers, she re-phrases and chunks questions for incorrect responses, lets low expectancy students off the hook to reflect on their learning, but always returns to them for an answer. As a result, the identified low expectancy students are participating in group work, showing more confidence, answering more higher-order questions, and are valued by their peers. The lows are seeking out the teacher for advice and guidance outside of class, and the students say that the teacher will not give up on them, and holds them accountable for the same high expectations as all members of the classroom. Another valuable insight from this course is the importance of establishing an appropriate level of concern and cooperation with students. It is very simple to greet students at the door, to know their names, to be aware of their interests, to attend a sporting event where the students participate, and to be familiar with the culture of the students. This information can be gained informally through conversation, or by administering a student interest survey. The interest survey can provide valuable information regarding a students personal interests and

Developing Relationships and High Expectations for Student Learning their values. The interest survey also provides a way for the teacher to plan instruction that is relevant to the students interests. When a teacher uses students interests to produce a climate of acceptance and community, then the students will have an improvement in achievement because they feel accepted and acknowledged. (Marzano, 2007) This has been witnessed in the classroom by the Honors Biology students this term, who have chosen their own research projects. The students are excited to explore and share their information on topics ranging from the blue people in Kentucky to the life cycle of the

Wisconsin cabbage white butterfly. Their enthusiasm is contagious and even our media center librarian is excited to help them with relevant news feeds and research materials. A final important insight involved teaching students about misperceptions and interpretations. Students need to learn social skills at school under the supervision of adults who can give them guidance on empathy and viewpoints. All people have different values, communication styles, backgrounds, cultures and viewpoints on different issues. With diversity comes a need for people to develop the necessary skills to be tolerant of differences and open-mindedness to varied points of view. When working with students we should reframe their thinking, teach them how to think positively, to say affirmative statements and to question their perspective when dealing with others. When people see the best intentions in others stress can be reduced, and it is possible to cultivate a team-oriented culture that values effective, supportive relationships. The current employment market values peer collaboration and team building so these skills are essential 21st century skills that we must set as learning goals for the future success of our students. These skills have been incorporated into the AVID elective classroom and the students are becoming much more aware of the needs of others and they are exploring their

Developing Relationships and High Expectations for Student Learning misconceptions more closely rather than making assumptions regarding the perceptions or reactions of others. The use of video clips has been implemented that help provide teaching

situations that are humorous but essential for reflection on personal perspectives. The students are responding to instruction and are learning to engage in dialogue to understand and to work through their differences. The process is creating a very close family environment with shared respectful behaviors towards other members of the class. The students are more introspective of their own misperceptions of others and are looking at situations through new eyes. Question One lingering question is associated with the quality of interactions with low expectancy students. In certain circumstances, with extremely withdrawn or shy students it may be overwhelming for the student to receive verbal indicators from the teacher. Some students may even have unidentified mental health issues. The involvement of a school psychologist may be important to include in the team to evaluate the student as it may not be as simple as teacher bias. When a student withdraws from the teacher when the quality of interaction is improved and the teacher seeks to control the pattern of biased behaviors, then what actions should the teacher take to improve the affective tone with low expectancy students? In order to clarify this question, plans have been made, to request the help of the social worker or school psychologist to observe the classroom and to collect data on the teacher-student interactions. Feedback from a trained professional will provide information on whether the student requires further assessment or if the teacher needs to suppress or express certain behaviors that may impede or improve the performance of the student. As the concern is with one specific student, it would also be helpful to observe the student in other classroom

Developing Relationships and High Expectations for Student Learning environments, and with other teachers to see if there is an observable difference in behavior of the student. Another question involves the time commitment involved in teaching 21st century skills and social emotional wellness. The current reform efforts are being put into place to hold teachers accountable for the common core standards. The learning goals for content and skills are being written, but very little attention has been given to writing learning goals for the behavior domain. How can these goals be addressed if they are not written into the common

core standards? There is little time available to incorporate learning experiences for content due to the current pacing charts that are being established, so how will these 21st century skills be rolled into the curriculum? The standards for science will be available in the Fall of 2012, and at that time it will be possible to evaluate the expectations for each science strand and to write clear learning goals based on the standards. Until that time, the 21st century skills can be discussed in the content area professional learning communities to establish an awareness of the importance of these goals, but until the standards are distributed the expectations for scope and sequence will remain vague. Action Step One action step that must be taken at beginning of the year is to use student learning profiles to obtain information from students about their interests, preferred learning style, and to give the students the opportunity to talk about themselves using an online survey or shared experiences on a class website. Based on this information, it will be possible to establish the low expectancy students in the classroom, and to set a positive affective tone for all students based on their interests. From the first day of school, it is important to demonstrate value and respect for

Developing Relationships and High Expectations for Student Learning all students by making life connections, using verbal and non-verbal interactions, setting up a seating plan so that lows are evenly distributed throughout the room, having high-expectations and providing equal rates of questions and feedback to all students. All students will feel challenged next year, and the teacher behaviors will be monitored by using a random response system, and asking complex probing questions to all students. There was an improvement in student performance and class culture due to this strategy after the assignment completion from this course. This is an important action step for the future to improve student motivation and to have all students feel accepted and welcomed. If student achievement can be improved by changing teacher behaviors based on personal bias, then this is an action that must be taken to provide every student with equal opportunity for success.

Developing Relationships and High Expectations for Student Learning References Marzano, R. J. (2007). The Art and Science of Teaching. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.