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Learning more about expectations

Te Mana Kōrero 1

Issues around teacher expectations for achievement by Māori students are introduced through the voice-over statement: “High expectations of Māori can lead to a significant improvement in their performance.” This introduces the commonly accepted research finding that the expectations that teachers have and communicate for student achievement can affect learning outcomes, positively or negatively.

Russell Bishop comments, in Te Mana Kōrero 1, that many teachers do not appear to have and communicate high expectations for achievement by Māori students. He reports that he was commonly told by Māori students that teachers “have low expectations of them and they found that really belittling – they just keep doing things the same way and go round and round in circles”.

The voice-over statement tells us: “Sometimes it seems that Māori students are pigeon-holed before they even start learning” and that Māori students need to “build a belief in their own potential”.

What information do you pick up from the DVD about how teachers can enhance Māori student engagement and achievement through the expectations that they have and communicate? Bear in mind that many Māori students have high expectations for themselves, like the student at the end of the DVD who declares that his aspiration is to be “the first Māori Prime Minister … I’m going to rule the world.”

Viewing this DVD can support teachers in doing one or all of the following.

  • Reflect on the expectations teachers have and communicate (verbally, in writing, and/or through illustrations) to students and families/whānau and iwi. Usually, these expectations relate to the curriculum or to learning; sometimes they relate to behaviour.
  • Notice how expectations can be achieved through small and manageable steps. Note the Whangarei Intermediate teacher’s statement that “every student has to see what they are capable of achieving”.
  • Notice how teachers can set new expectations when current expectations have been met. This links to the notion of goal-setting and then monitoring progress and achievement in relation to goals.
  • Identify the teaching and learning strategies that teachers use to enable their students to achieve the expectations in a way that best suits their needs. Note the maths teacher at Rotorua Lakes High School who has introduced group and collaborative learning techniques so that his students can learn from each other and help each other achieve the expectations. This encourages them to take risks in their learning and develop confidence in their ability to achieve.
  • Notice how teachers encourage their students to ‘have a go’ through providing ongoing positive reinforcement. Note that the teacher from Kapiti College suggests that the effective use of positive reinforcement depends on the relationship that the teacher has established with the student.
  • Notice how teachers give students tools to critique their own and each other’s work in ways that will lead to improved achievement. Note the students at Ruawai Primary School giving each other feedback on the effectiveness of their re-telling, and the students at Whangarei Intermediate giving each other feedback on the quality of their writing.

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