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Posted: January 9, 2020, 12:00am by Kathleen Nelson-Simley
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What You Expect is What You Get

The expectations you have of a student can influence their behavior. Kids can read you like a book. They will know what you expect of them based on what you say or don’t say and what you do or don’t do.

So, how do you want your students to read you? What is the message you want them to get from you and what you expect of them in their future?

There is a lot of research about the role of expectations and the influence they can have on kids. Research shows that it’s important to have expectations of your students, rather than no expectations.

So, what are your expectations of your students when it comes to using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs sometime in their future?

Do you expect them to not drink alcohol until the age of 21?

Do you expect them to not use tobacco products for a lifetime?

Do you expect them to never use illicit drugs?

Do you believe it’s realistic or idealistic to have these expectations of your students? In other words, do you think it’s possible to expect all of your students to not use alcohol until the age of 21?

No matter what you believe, here is something to think about…

Research says that it’s better to set your expectations higher, rather than lower. It’s human nature for us to perform or act according to wherever we believe the bar has been set for us. If you set the bar low for your students, you will get something lower than the bar from them. If you set the bar high, then you increase the chances of getting something higher than the bar from your students. To sum it up, when you expect less, you get less. When you expect more, you get more.

So, do you expect something more from your students or something less? Do you expect the best of them or the worse?

If you think the expectations above about alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use are realistic, keep thinking that. You are on the right course of getting these outcomes with your students.

If you believe the above expectations are idealistic (or unrealistic), here’s something to think about…

ALL of your students deserve the best in their futures. Every one of them deserves a shot at achieving the above expectations. And, it starts with you and your belief that they can.

Be cautious in playing the guessing game as to which of your students can or can not achieve these outcomes, based on your opinion. When you do, your students will pick up on it. Remember, they can read you like a book.

It doesn’t matter which school the students go to, which neighborhood they live in or which family they come from as to whether they can or can not live up to these expectations. For example, have you ever been surprised by your students? Have there been students that you have known who you didn’t think could possibly achieve something and then they did? Or, the students you thought would never do something, like drink alcohol or vape, and they did? I think most of us who work with kids have been surprised. It’s a reminder that we really can’t predict who will and who won’t or who can and who can’t.

And, remember, when you set your expectations high for all of your students, they may not all live up to them. This is reality. It’s life. You just can’t predict who they will be. Life, not you, should determine this.

If a student falls short of any expectation you have of them, know that it’s not the end of the world. It also doesn’t mean you have to lower your expectation of them in the future. Take the time to talk with them about what happened. Help them see why or how they didn’t live up to the expectation and what they can do differently or better next time. Remind them of what your expectation continues to be of them in their future.

Expect the very best of your students. You can’t predict their future. Anything is possible. So, why not expect the best and the most from them. They deserve that from you. Don’t they?

P.S. Are you looking for a process that will allow students to plan for their futures, set high expectations for themselves and have loads of fun doing it? All Stars - Building Bright Futures for Kids might be just what you are looking for!

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