YATST is pleased to be partnering with the Vermont Department of Education to spearhead the “Great Expectations…or Not? Initiative". The goal is to support youth-adult high school teams to create and implement strategies to:
- students’ expectations of their own academic performance
- teachers’ expectations of ALL students’ academic performance
- parents’ and community’s expectations for children’s high academic performance,
- reframe academic failure or struggle as an essential step in a learning process, rather than an indication of limited learning capacity,
- dispel the common myth that intelligence is fixed and predetermined.
Why is this work important? Research affirms that increasing student expectations will have a powerful, positive impact on their future. High or low self-expectations, as measured by children’s estimates of their grades, is one of the strongest known predictors of their ultimate academic success (J.Hattie, 2009). We also know that a young persons’ self-expectations are heavily influenced by teachers, parents and the school environment (C. Dweck, 2000, 2006). Current brain research highlights the role of self-concept and the power of past experiences in promoting or limiting learning (D. Sousa, 2006). Expectations will increase when all stakeholders have an opportunity to talk about this issue. YATST believes youth are particularly effective instigators of these discussions.
How will we accomplish this? Youth and adult teams will attend a full day orientation on January 25. They will learn video interviewing techniques which they will use to record their community-wide exploration of expectations through conversations with students, teachers and parents. Interview data, and short clips from the videotapes themselves, will be used to create powerful tools for dialogue and change. During the February 23 follow-up training, teams will share their short video clips and creatively design their own information campaigns, which will be implemented in the spring. Support from YATST trainers and the Director of "What Kids Can Do, Inc." will be available throughout this process. This work will be showcased at the May 11 statewide YATST/ Vermont Rural Partnership conference and will be one aspect of the YATST keynote address at the upcoming BEST Institute.