Expecting great things from your students is an important aspect of teaching. How you view your students and the expectations you set for them could make or break both your teaching experience and their learning experience. Before we discuss how to set realistic expectations it is important to realise how powerful they are.

The Power of ExpectationsIrving Kirsch and the Placebo Effect

Several years ago a doctor named Irving Kirsch began studying the placebo effect and how it related to antidepressant medication. He performed a double blind study where both the doctors and patients were not aware if they received real medication or a placebo pill. Surprisingly, the effects of the real medication were not considerably more beneficial than the sugar pill. The people who took the placebo had around the same decrease in depression as the people who took the real drugs. How did this happen? People felt better because they thought they were being prescribed a drug. They expected for the drug to alleviate their depression and their body and mind responded accordingly.

Expectations Affect Performance

Our own expectations of a situation can dramatically affect our performance and physical well being. As a teacher, you need to realise the power of your own expectations for a class or seminar that you are supposed to teach. If you are disgruntled about teaching a particular subject or group of students your expectations will drop and the class will probably not go as smoothly or be as interesting as it could be. On the other hand, if you are excited about teaching your enthusiasm will permeate the class and infect your students. More often than not, students will rise to meet your expectations if they know you are behind them and believe in them.

Coming Up Next: Developing Realistic and Effective Expectations

Since positive expectations are so important, next time we’ll look at how to develop realistic and effective expectations for your students.  Stay tuned and make sure you subscribe to our mailing list to make sure you don't miss anything!

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