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Great Expectations

As you begin a new school year or sport season, let me ask you a question: Are you aware of how your expectations impact the performance of your students?

Dr. Wayne Dyer once reported that during the 1960s, a teacher was given a roster showing the actual I.Q. test scores of the students of one class, and for another class a roster in which the I.Q. column had been mistakenly filled with the student’s locker numbers. The teacher assumed that the locker numbers were the actual I.Q.s of her students. After a year, it was discovered that in the first class, the students with the high actual I.Q. scores had performed better than those with the low ones. That’s predictable. But in the second class, the students with the higher locker numbers scored significantly higher than those with the lower locker numbers!

Is this a coincidence? I don’t think so. Students are tangibly impacted by the expectations of their leaders or teachers. We tend to relate to kids based on how we expect them to perform or behave in return. What if we chose to expect the very best from every one of them—not just the gifted ones? (click to tweet)

A friend told me last week that he met a former pole-vaulter from the Ukraine. The athlete had set a record at the time by vaulting 21 feet. Incredible. When my friend asked him how he did it, when others had tried and failed many times. The young man said, “It’s easy. My coach always told me I could vault 22 feet.”

Life and leadership are about managing our expectations. But they’re also about choosing our expectations of others that reflect our hope, our support, and our belief in them. It’s a choice we make.

Have you noticed the impact of your expectations on students?

1 Comment

  1. Brian Musser on August 22, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Ah, the 60’s. We should be able to do more experiments on humans that could negatively impact their futures. 🙂 I try to treat my students as adults and many of them respond by acting like it.

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Great Expectations