– Terra Graves –
Are expectations good or bad? It depends on who is putting those expectations on us. As educators, we are weighed down by expectations. Expectations are placed on us by students, our colleagues, our administrators, parents, the Department of Education, the community, and last but not least, ourselves. The expectations we place on ourselves come in the form of goals, while the expectations others place on us feel more like demands. Sometimes these expectations can be so overwhelming that teachers leave the profession. Expectations set us up for success or failure, praise or disappointment.
Having recently graduated from yoga teacher training, part of the practice is accepting what is and not what should be. When we have expectations for what we think various aspects of our lives should be, all we do is set ourselves up to be disappointed. Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans. Can this apply to our lives as educators? We are told to have high expectations for our students because it motivates them and lets them know we believe in their ability to achieve. But what if they don’t? How do they feel, then? On that same note, what if WE don’t meet the expectations placed upon us?
As Flipped Learning (FL) practitioners, we have placed high expectations on ourselves to provide a better learning experience for our students. This expectation has merit. It is undoubtedly much easier to be a traditional teacher; less planning, less thinking, less creativity, less emotional investment, less everything. I would venture a guess that if you’re reading this article, you even set high expectations for your FL practice. Am I right? So what does that mean? You’ve probably tried and failed and tried again, experienced success, and continued to learn and experiment. You may have even joined the FLGI Community, read the member blogs, and earned certifications through the Flipped Learning Global Initiative. If not, I expect you to. 😉
But seriously, give yourself a break. The fact that you are flipping means that you care about your students, and you put their learning above your convenience.
Dan Jones’ article this month examines the pressures teachers feel from seeing amazing classroom ideas on social media and the severe affliction of “Pinterest stress.” What I find interesting is that a new category of posts have become mainstream: “Pinterest fails.” This is when someone has attempted a recipe, a craft, or decorating scheme from something they found on Pinterest, and their version turns out far below the expected quality. Both the original post and the fail are posted side-by-side. I admire this. The effort someone takes to try something new, fail at it, and then post that failure shows that this person has a sense of humor and understands that failure is not a dirty word. These two qualities will serve you well as an FL practitioner.
The reality is, expectations are not going to go away. So we need to find ways to cope with or minimize the stress they bring about and leverage their benefits.
Here are some considerations when setting expectations (goals) for ourselves.
When you’ve got to meet the expectations of others, it’s just as important to take the time for some considerations and communicate. Similar to dealing with our own expectations, we need to consider:
I return to my initial question here, “Are expectations good or bad?” I think being able to tell the difference from the get-go is how to avoid the stress that expectations can cause. I hope that my advice will help you along the way. Of course, I can’t close this piece without placing my own expectations upon you: take my advice the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by expectations.
Success criteria: A feeling of zen.