The first standard in the state-designated teacher preparation standards is about expectations. The standard states “1. Expectations – the teacher communicates high expectations for student learning.” One of the sub-criteria that I have focused a lot on during my internship is standard 1.2: “Communicating with Students – Teacher’s explanation of content is appropriate and connects with students’ knowledge and experience.” For me, this standard involves being really communicative with students about what you are teaching, what they are learning, how they are learning it and why it is important. I firmly believe that the more transparent teachers are with students about the educational process and content, the more ownership and understanding students will have for their own education. We all learn best when we have a specific goal to work towards, and when teachers communicate their expectations to students, they are giving them that goal.
The other important element of this standard is that the teacher “connects with students’ knowledge and experience.” This is so important in order for students to learn new content within a context that is familiar with them. Without connecting learning to students’ prior knowledge, students have difficulty transferring their new knowledge across content areas or time. By activating prior knowledge at the beginning of new lessons, teachers can help build the context that is necessary for students in order for greater learning transfer and retention to occur.
One way that I have consistently communicated my expectations of learning to my students during internship is by establishing a routine of posting and discussing the learning target at the beginning of every lesson.
As the picture indicates, my learning target is always posted on a big bright sign at the front of the learning space, along with the central focus of the overall unit. By asking students to read the target out loud at the beginning of the lesson, I can easily facilitate a discussion of the expectation for learning for that day, and why it is important. Additionally, during this discussion I like to remind students about how the new learning will connect with what they have already learned, and open up a conversation for them to reflect on and predict these connections as well. By making this practice a regular part of my lesson routine, I am easily able to regularly communicate my expectations for learning to my students, as well as help them connect with their own background knowledge.