For three decades, I’ve been recommending that teachers present movement challenges to kids with the words, “Show me you can…” It’s a simple technique but amazingly effective in keeping kids on task because they want to show you – one of the important adults in their lives – that they can. Furthermore, when a teacher phrases a challenge in such a way, it implies that she or he knows the child can handle the challenge. I’ve witnessed it myself: kids thrive when we believe in their capabilities.
The work of Harvard psychologist Robert Rosenthal proved that to be true. In 1964, at a San Francisco elementary school, Rosenthal gave children a test that their teachers had been told would predict which students were about to dramatically improve their IQ. Following the test he randomly chose students whom the test had “proven” were on the verge of vast intellectual growth.
The result? After two years of studying the children, Rosenthal found that “if teachers had been led to expect greater gains in IQ, then increasingly, those kids gained more in IQ.”
Does the same thing happen in reverse? If we expect less of students – for example, disruptive behavior from boys or less success in math and science from girls – do we get what we expect? How could we not?
Following my Studentcentricity discussion with Lori Desautels, Deborah Stipek, and Jennifer Carey on the subject of teacher beliefs, Lori wrote,...