Transition to High School – Part 2 – Managing Expectations

Here is a presentation we held at St. Clements Catholic School for students and parents discussing the transition to high school. For a transcript please read here

Managing expectations, let’s move to the conversations that take place at home. The first thing is setting goals, obviously your son or daughter has probably a pretty good perception of what they like as student. You as a mom or dad probably have a pretty good perception of what they are supposed to be like a student. And so sometimes they are close together and sometimes they’re far apart. But regardless, the main point here is communication, right. Whatever perception your son or daughter has about themselves as a student they have lots and lots and lots of evidence that supports it.

They maybe interpreting that evidence incorrectly, but they’ve got lots of evidence that supports that. So we set goals, we want to make sure that we’re focusing on things that your son or daughter can control alright. You know in our work environment it would be very much, very frustrating if we set goals, that we actually don’t have much control over, alright. And so we want to make sure academically we are not setting those same kinds of goals, I need eighties in all my courses, your son or daughter can’t control that.

If I’m a teacher, on any given test, I got a classroom of the students, we’ve all learned the same material, I can create a test as a teacher that all those kids will fail. I can take the same material and create a test; all these kids will ace it. So if that’s the case, then much of the burden of those actual marks can possibly all lie on a student right? They have some control but not entire control and so if you get caught up on the marks the number, it’s difficult for them to actually tangibly control it. I get 78 not 80, what can I do differently next time, well it’s difficult to put your hands on what it actually is that I can do better. There’s a million reasons why that might have been.

And so we want to focus on habits, good habits you can control, how organized you are. Your study habits, having a routine, investing the proper time. How you read from your text book? How you study for tests, not study hard or study longer but what do you actually do when you study, there’s a better ways, and there’s lots of better ways. These are things, these are habits, these are behaviors and skills that your son or daughter can have complete control over. The day to day marks, quizzes, pop quizzes, tests, exams, essays, the amount of control they have is not equal to the amount of emphasis that is placed upon them.

So we want to make sure that we’re going to set goals, and you should communicate these goals especially when you first start as to what those goals are. What’s your grade in terms of flags, road block, you know, little markers along the way saying hey, maybe things aren’t going as they should, were you not thinking seeing people pretty well, but they can be the end point. I am going to talk to you results, results need context. What does that mean? Is it means quarter, I have asked lots of students this, who thinks that 72 is a good mark? Who thinks [indiscernible] [00:03:09] how about; who thinks 80 is a good mark? Alright, how about, that’s a lot of hope, 76 yeah, or 77 5, 72, 76 can you see the difficulty I’m having, I know out there I could sound good and I sound bad, but as soon as you start throwing all the numbers around it becomes difficult to pinpoint what actually is a good mark. What would you support; there’s a lot of other quest I need to know. No what went into it, well what did they do to earn that mark, was on the test, how did others do how did….

What did I do in the process to achieve that, there are so many other factors that go into it that we can’t possibly know specifically what the value of that number is until we know context. We have [indiscernible] [00:04:02] that idea, I know I had on students a society of self fulfilling, probably a self fulfilling idea, and you may have not as a student. As long as, no I’ll start it off, I wasn’t a fantastic student, I was smart, we’ll walk about the difference but not to say a fantastic student. And I had marks like 70s, and I think I kind of placed myself kind of in that 70s mark. If I got a 72, 74 the world is kind of okay. If I got an 80 or an 82 or 85 or something like that wow this is fantastic, this course is easy, now they are doing that, people who spend time on that is ultimately born to be able to that subject.

I had marks that sort of had fallen to 60s and so on, I felt uncomfortable, you kind of wasn’t been sit well and little embarrassed about it and I find my efforts focused working little harder. So you have this two kind of pressures from below and from above, kind of push that student it’s a kind of self fulfilling idea, and some students might have this idea that I’m kind of a 60s person, and when you know they kind of get marks kind of 60s or in their 70s or 80s and these kind of self fulfilling things are dangerous in that the students have [indiscernible] [00:05:16] and what we want to try and do is we want to see if we can raise those goal minutes, change the perception of ourselves as a student, and there’s many ways of doing it and one thing, the challenge is that they have lots and lots of evidence that supports this.

Lots of it, they’ll be sitting in a classroom with peers, they have some tests, they can quiz, and they’ve been tested over and over, over years. They’ve got a pretty good idea if that’s what it tells me about myself. Right, so changes is challenging, the first mark it’s going to be so to change expectations, change the focus away from those marks, change the focuses on behaviors, because marks aren’t something you are born with, you’re not born a 72 student, you’re not born a 64 or a 98. These just aren’t true, it will be all those things, some variations thereof, you know, under the right circumstances with the right approach to school.

So what can we do? We can help students focus in the things that they can control; we can focus how they study and what they study in terms of what the process is. Focusing on how much time they spend supporting the routine, supporting the process but I know that’s an examples I will illustrate it, the process of studying alright. The idea of how they go about doing it, focusing on questions and answers as opposed to trying to memorize bunches of the information. It’s too big a topic to touch on but, help focusing on what they study, what’s important, what’s not important, how to help them determine what is important information, what is not important information. Generalize it so much, don’t tell them how to study for their science test, tell them how to study in general, that can be applied to science, geography and all the other different subjects.

Connect effort with results right, that’s ultimately what you want, you want to connect that they invest time in it, they get results. And if they don’t get the results in a matter of time then talk about it in terms of what can we do to change the process and what’s not working or when you do see that connection, that it might turn better bit clearly, the approach isn’t there either. It’s these kinds of connections they start to make the biggest frustrations students have when they get to high school is this, there is not a lot of correlation between effort and results.

Sometimes they try really hard and you don’t get a regular mark, other times they don’t try at all and they get a good mark. That disconnect there, and there’s lots of reasons for this disconnect, but that disconnect there is damaging. It tells me that it’s random. How many times [indiscernible] [00:07:56] who has used the word random before. Random, I don’t remember that word being like it is now, that’s unbelievable, how uncomfortable must like to go through, to have so much random. We just did this on random, cheat in class, random. We watched some random movie, random that’s very specifically, it’s exact opposite of random, you know everything you’re doing is exactly the opposite of random and for very specific purpose, but they have this disconnect, this disconnect between what’s happening in the results, and so that’s what I am talking about the importance of having discussions about expectations [indiscernible] [00:08:33]


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