I believe in the power of high expectations. Simple and often overlooked, expectations can make all the difference in the life of a student. Think about it… you walk into a classroom and encounter the following two statements: “Today we are going to learn about the Pythagorean theorem, how it is proved, and how it is used to solve problems.” Or, “Fill out this worksheet, if you have any questions, let me know, I’ll be at my desk.” The power of expectations is unlimited and invaluable. I believe in this power because I believe in the ability of the students of this nation to rise up to those expectations. When Dequan, a 12th grader on a 5th grade math level entered my classroom, I doubt he expected much of himself. One can point to the hole in the ceiling of my room through which rain falls, or the handful of calculators spread thin throughout the groups of desks, or the socioeconomic disadvantages that Dequan faces as reasons for his being left behind. I, however, will point to the lack of expectations. If a teacher doesn’t believe Dequan will succeed, and Dequan doesn’t believe he himself will succeed, well, I believe you can draw your own conclusions. I believe that students will rise up to expectations because I have seen it. I saw Dequan, struggling with negative numbers and basic math operations, make years of progress over a 4 month period to the point where, sharing a calculator with his table and having moved his desk to avoid the rain, Dequan was solving problems involving trigonometry. I’ve seen students come back to my classroom, asking me to teach their next subject because their new teacher does not hold them to the same expectations. Every day I am inspired by the ability of my students to defy the expectations of those around them and make the progress expected of students in more affluent communities. Across this nation, students are rising to meet high expectations set by their teacher and working to overcome obstacles in their path to success. I believe in high expectations and I believe in the capability of the children of our nation; this is why I teach for America.
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