Monday, December 1, 2014

Raise the Bar

In Expect More from Actualization, Walter shares, 

“Are there letdowns? Of course. Disappointment is just the difference between where you set the bar and where you find your footing. It’s necessary…a gut check that helps you reassess and recommit to do better. It’s not based on what anyone else does…it’s defined by you and the standards to which you hold yourself. If you’re never disappointed, you’re not expecting enough.”

Many times I would have to show tough love to my students with special needs. Yes, I felt bad that they had disabilities but unless I helped them cope with them and figure out a way to navigate the world, they would never rise to their potential.

I’ve been in IEP meetings where I was told that I expect too much from my students. But I believe there are some basic things that all students can learn regardless of having a disability or not. I think that all students can learn to respect others, be honest, and do the best that they can.

If I keep telling students that they can’t do better because they have a disability, then they may never know their full potential. I need to expect more and help my students achieve more.

Maybe that means I need to expect more from myself. I need to do more than just the bare minimum. I need to expect to give my best to help others give their best.

I’m always reminded of a general education teacher who had two of my low functioning students assigned to her Broadcast Journalism class. When she found out, she rushed to my room and insisted that they be removed because they couldn’t do the things in her class. As my students’ advocate, I insisted that they stay in the class and that we work together to find things for them to do that were possible. Thankfully, this teacher was willing to work with me and make this a positive experience for our students. We were both amazed how much they could actually do and do well. One boy was on the school TV network and gave the weather each morning on the news show. The other boy worked the camera and organized equipment. The rest of the students responded well to them because of the teacher’s attitude and it was a fabulous year for all of the students. In fact, it went so well that the teacher requested these students for the Advanced Broadcast Journalism class the next year.

Since we raised the bar and expected more of these students, they rose to the occasion. They tried things that they never would have attempted before. The more they did successfully, the more we asked of them. If you could only see the happiness that was reflected on their faces. For once, people didn’t focus on what they couldn’t do but rather helped them learn the things they could do!

I think the bar was raised for the students and also for the teachers and students. It was a great lesson for everyone to expect more of ourselves and others.

Have you raised the bar on something and had it turn out well? Please share.

Image: 'Limbo?'
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