Change the language!

It’s no surprise that the way we speak can make such a large difference to our students. Not only is it what we say but how we say it. We know this to be true but how does it relate to the classroom and what small change could I make that might have an impact on the achievement of my students?

I met with my GATE students (yr 11) and invited them to be a part of our “Success in Science” team where the goal is to be gain excellence and aim for an Excellence endorsement in Science.

I explained that if they achieved this goal I would bake them a cake each.

food plate chocolate dessert
Photo by Alexander Dummer on

Their “buy in” is to;

  • give up some extra time and attend tutorials before each practice assessment.
  • complete past papers for marking and feedback.
  • attend some learning to learn tutorials to understand how to study and what resources are available to help them learn independently.
  • learn how to unpack NCEA so they understand it better and what is being asked – work smarter.

My longer term goal is for students to cement good learning behaviours that lead to success (supported by staff) and set them up for continued success at higher levels of NCEA. It is modeling behaviour that could see students make connections to future Scholarship opportunities.

They were all very eager and keen to be a part of it, they want to do well and I believe they embrace the idea that their teacher is part of their goals and ambitions.

They want to hear that you care about them.

This links to research that has shown; “that successful middle schools have teachers who challenge their students with high expectations (Keifer et al., 2014). Findings from this study suggest that teacher expectations matter. Student motivation was statistically significant to both student perceptions of teacher expectations and actual teacher expectations. The data analysis suggests that student motivation increased with higher perceptual and actual teacher expectations.

The implication is that students will be more highly motivated to perform better in their science class if they believe that their teachers believe they can do the work and expect them to do well.



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