The second myth about high expectations that plague many educators is the “Fake it before you make it” myth. Those who believe this myth argue that you can act your way into developing high expectations for students. They encourage teachers to pretend that they have high expectations for students by using high expectancy behaviors such as asking high level questions, praising students liberally, and providing more wait time. The argument goes that students will be convinced by this act and rise to the level of our fake expectations.
This myth does have some grounding in research. Studies have shown that when teachers think that students are capable, they treat those students differently and the students rise to the level of their expectation (Marzano, 2007). However, the difference wasn’t in the way that teachers treated the students, it was in the way that teachers saw their role in the classroom. They believed that by changing their behavior, they could have influence over students’ achievement and thus used different teaching strategies.
[NOTE: Your teaching practices communicate your expectations to students. Discover 4 proven strategies for asking questions in a way that lets students know that you’ve set the bar high – and that you believe in them. This tip sheet is 4 High-Expectancy Questioning Strategies]
When you only adjust your behavior and not your perspective or deeply-held beliefs and values, sooner or later, your true expectations will leak out --- typically all over your students.
In fact, our implicit notions of who students are and what they can do become explicit under stress. If you don’t really believe that students can meet and exceed the standards of your curriculum, that belief will play out in your interactions with students at some point.
You can’t fake it.
What’s more, faking it can actually sustain low beliefs about students because it prevents authentic interactions. It keeps you from seeing your students for who they really are and addressing their needs. Instead, you are so focused on feigning high expectations that you fail to deal with the brutal facts of your reality and change them.
Instead of trying to fake your way into high expectations, a better approach is to take your attention off of what your students can or can’t do and focus instead on what YOU can do to help them. The more you believe in your own ability to support students and help them achieve (no matter who they are), the more you will behave in ways that convey those high expectations to students.
And you won’t have to fake a thing.
Ready to get real about your beliefs – and shift your focus to your own performance? Get these 4 proven strategies for asking questions in a way that lets students know that you’ve set the bar high – and that you believe in them.