Monday, May 29, 2006

High Expectations and Caring Support

In Closing the Achievement Gap 2nd Edition, a collection of essays highlight beliefs and practices that are making a difference with the most challenging students. Bonnie Benard writes about Turnaround Teachers and Schools and when asked what quality teaching looks like students say:
a caring teacher who accepts "no excuses" and who refuses to let them fail.

What I like about this is its perfect balance. Imagine the caring teacher who is not concerned with achievement. This person just wants students to feel good about themselves, but isn't concerned about real achievement or improvement. Clearly this type of teacher is doing no service to his students. But the other extreme is just as bad. The teacher who has unyielding expectations, but no emotional consideration for her students has just as negative an impact on her students. Students are sure to be exasperated by the intense pressure unaccompanied by gentle support and encouragement.

Therefore, we all need to strike that balance to show students that we truly care for them and at the same time we are not content to leave them as they are. We need to hold them accountable to reach their highest achievement, coming alongside to support them every inch of the way. May all of us at Halecrest aspire to be those caring and challenging educators that make a difference in the lives of children and leave an impression that will last a lifetime.

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