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Expecting the Best: Bookreview Becoming a High expectation Teacher

Our director and founder Lineke van Tricht wrote a book review on Becoming a High Expectation Teacher. Raising the Bar. Christine Rubie-Davies (2015). Read the book review here or on LinkedIn.

One of Bureau Talent’s missions is to promote equity in gifted education. We pursue that mission in several ways. We have been developing and leading Erasmus+ projects with international partners such as the Dublin City University, LondonGT, Thomas More University College Antwerp, and secondary schools from various countries. At a local and national level, we developed an academic workspace at the Rijswijks Lyceum & Van Vredenburch College in Rijswijk in cooperation with professors Eddie Denessen and Lianne Hoogeveen of the RCSW: Radboud Centrum Sociale Wetenschappen in Nijmegen. By connecting scientific knowledge with everyday school practice, we want to improve the opportunities of students from migrant and/or low socioeconomic backgrounds. Christine Rubie-Davies’ book Becoming a High Expectation Teacher (2015) is an important inspiration in working on our mission.

The book consists of three parts. Part I describes the history of teacher expectancy research, from the Pygmalion experiment, via Babad’s research on non-verbal communication between students and teachers, and Weinstein’s ecological framework of classrooms, schools, and community, up until Van den Bergh’s research on explicit and implicit prejudiced biases.

Part II introduces and explains the differences in beliefs and practices of high and low expectation teachers. Three major differences have been found: first of all, in the way in which teachers group students and the choice of learning activities they offer their students. High expectation teachers are more flexible in their grouping, and as a result, students get the opportunity to grow to a higher level. Secondly, high and low expectation teachers differ in the extent to which they promote motivation, engagement, autonomy, evaluation, and feedback to their students. And thirdly, they differ in the way they enhance class climate. High expectation teachers tend to have a less competitive class climate in which every student feels valued for who they are. When it comes to achievement, students are not compared to other students so much as to their own former achievements.

Part II also lists interventions in the teacher expectation field and describes the Teacher Education Project that Rubie-Davies led in New Zealand. In that project, teachers were trained to become high expectation teachers and the effect of the intervention was measured by student outcomes to see if having high expectations had a direct influence on student achievement. This intervention is interesting as it shows that students in the intervention group improved more in mathematics than students in the control group. There were also significant differences in student perceptions of their teachers’ expectations: students in the intervention group had an increased perception of their teachers’ expectations, while in the control group, this perception stayed the same over time.

Part III of Rubie-Davies’ book describes the theoretical and practical perspectives of the three major themes in creating high expectations: flexible grouping, class climate, and goal setting. Within the context of our mission to promote equity, we link research and practice, and this part of the book helps us to design scientifically grounded interventions for our own setting.

 All in all, Rubie-Davies’ book provides us with a thorough theoretical background on teacher expectations as well as practical interventions. In our academic workspace, we are preparing research that will provide us with a baseline score of teacher expectations. After that, we can decide whether it is necessary to work on high expectations at this school. This week, we discovered that Rubie-Davies’ book has been translated into Dutch with the cooperation of Sonja Broerse MSc.: This is good news for all teachers and their students in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Promoting equity in gifted education (10-18 years)

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