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High Expectations Teaching

High Expectations Teaching
How We Persuade Students to Believe and Act on "Smart Is Something You Can Get"

First Edition

A Joint Publication with Learning Forward, Research for Better Teaching, and Phi Delta Kappa

November 2016 | 248 pages | Corwin

The myth of fixed intelligence debunked

For all the productive conversation around “mindsets,” what’s missing are the details of how to convince our discouraged and underperforming students that “smart is something you can get.” Until now. 

With the publication of High-Expectations Teaching, Jon Saphier reveals once and for all evidence that the bell curve of ability is plain wrong—that ability is something that can be grown significantly if we can first help students to believe in themselves. 

In drill-down detail, Saphier provides an instructional playbook for increasing student confidence and agency in the daily flow of classroom life:

  • Powerful  strategies for attribution retraining, organized around  50 Ways to Get Students to Believe in Themselves  
  • Concrete examples, scripts, and classroom structures and routines for empowering student agency and choice
  • Dozens of accompanying videos showing high-expectations strategies in action

All children in all schools, regardless of income or social class, will benefit from the strategies in this book. But for children of poverty and children of color, our proficiency with these skills is essential . . . in many ways life saving. Jon Saphier challenges us all—educators, students, and parents—to get started today.

About Jon Saphier

The author of nine books, including The Skillful Teacher, Jon Saphier is founder and president of Research for Better Teaching, Inc. (RBT), a professional development organization dedicated since 1979 to improving classroom teaching and school leadership throughout the United States and internationally.

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List of Resources
About the Author
1. The History of “Intelligence”
References and Resources

2. Malleable Intelligence: The Evidence—Attribution Retraining and the Growth Mindset
Data Challenging the Innate Ability Theory

Attribution Retraining

References and Resources

3. Verbal Behavior in Nine Arenas of Classroom Life
1. Calling on Students

2. Responses to Student Answers

3. Giving Help

4. Changing Attitudes Toward Errors

5. Giving Tasks and Assignments

6. Feedback According to Criteria for Success With Encouragement and Precise Diagnostic Guidance

7. Positive Framing of Re-Teaching

8. Tenacity When Students Don’t Meet Expectations

9. Pushback on Fixed Mindset Language and Student Helplessness

References and Resources

4. Regular Classroom Mechanisms for Generating Student Agency
10. Frequent Quizzes and a Flow of Data to Students

11. Student Self-Corrections/Self-Scoring

12. Student Error Analysis

13. Regular Re-Teaching

14. Required Retakes and Redos With Highest Grade

15. Cooperative Learning Protocols and Teaching of Group Skills

16. Student Feedback to Teacher on Pace or Need for Clarification

17. Reward System for Effective Effort and Gains

18. Extra Help

19. Student Goal Setting

References and Resources

5. No Secrets Instructional Strategies That Support Student Agency
20. Communicating Objectives

21. Criteria for Success

22. Exemplars

23. Checking for Understanding

24. Making Students’ Thinking Visible

25. Frequent Student Summarizing

6. Teaching Effective Effort
26. Effective Effort Behaviors

27. Student Self-Evaluation of Effective Effort

28. Learning Study and Other Strategies of Successful Students

29. Attribution Theory and Brain Research

References and Resources

7. Choices That Generate Agency: Voice, Ownership, and Influence
30. Stop My Teaching

31. Student-Generated Questions

32. Negotiating the Rules of the Classroom Game

33. Teaching Students the Principles of Learning

34. Learning Style

35. Non-Reports and Student Experts

36. Culturally Relevant Teaching

37. Student-Led Parent Conferences

References and Resources

8. Schoolwide Policies and Procedures
38. Hiring Teachers

39. Assignment of Teachers

40. Personalizing Knowledge of and Contact With Students

41. Scheduling

42. Grouping

43. Content-Focused Teams That Examine Student Work in Relation to Their Teaching

44. Reward System for Academic Effort and Gains

45. Push, Support, and Tight Safety Net (Hierarchy of Intervention)

46. Quality Afterschool Programs and Extracurricular Activities

47. Building Identity and Pride in Belonging to the School

48. Creating a Vision of a Better Life Attainable Through Learning the Things School Teaches

49. Forming an Image of Successful People Who Look Like Them and Value Education

50. Building Relations With Parents Through Home Visits and Focus on How to Help

References and Resources

9. Conclusion
What Leaders Do

Teacher Preparation



References and Resources

Appendix A. Case Studies in High Expectations Teaching and Attribution Retraining
Teacher Case Studies

Administrator Case Studies

Appendix B. Levels of Sophistication of Common Planning Time (CPT) Activities
Appendix C. Hierarchy of Interventions
Appendix D. Goal-Setting Experiments
Appendix E. Kristin Allison’s Log
Appendix F. Effort Books: A Bibliography

Free resources

How to Inspire All Students to Believe in Themselves

How to Inspire All Students to Believe in Themselves

"How do we help students to believe in themselves—to believe they can master complex content and that effort determines their academic success? If they are behind academically, it’s not because there is something wrong with their brains or their 'ability' is deficient."

Read more from Jon Saphier, author of High Expectations Teaching, on Corwin Connect.

Read Now

“No Secrets” Teaching That Supports Student Agency

“No Secrets” Teaching That Supports Student Agency

"Our underperforming, low-confidence students need teachers who understand how they learn and who communicate that they care. The instructional strategies listed below are productive for all students, but they are essential for underperforming, low-confidence students."

Read more from Jon Saphier, author of High Expectations Teaching, on Corwin Connect.

Read Now

Webinar: Making the Growth Mindset Come Alive in the Classroom Practice

Webinar: Making the Growth Mindset Come Alive in the Classroom Practice

Gain new insight from Jon Saphier, author of High Expectations Teaching, on what successful teachers say and do to get under-performing, low-confidence students to believe in themselves. 

Watch now

Webinar: Classroom Discourse That Makes Student Thinking Visible

Webinar: Classroom Discourse That Makes Student Thinking Visible

Listen in as Jon Saphier, author of High Expectations Teaching, discusses key teaching moves that help students display a higher level of thinking and create rigorous student dialogue.

Watch now

“Students and teachers need the language to learn how to support one another in their growth.  High Expectations Teaching provides not only that language, but also strategies to lead student and teachers to an understanding of the potential for improvement.

Kelly Minick, English Teacher and Instructional Coach
Saluda High School

High Expectations Teaching is a must read for anyone committed to creating equitable school systems allowing all students, especially students in poverty, educational opportunities for enhancing their lives. Included is a strong research base with practical instructional strategies for creating positive interactions with students, and suggestions for impactful school level policies and procedures.”

Janice Bradley, Author and School Improvement Specialist
University of Utah

“The techniques in High Expectations Teaching will help us all become better teachers for our students.”

Jude A. Huntz, Professor
Penn Valley Community College
Key features
(1) An assets-based approach to advancing student achievement by helping students to believe that "smart is something you can get" and that one’s ability to do something is based on the effort extended to build it

(2) Debunks the myth of fixed intelligence by presenting compelling evidence that effort actually creates ability.

(3)  Emphasizes the critical importance of teacher language in building student self-confidence, promoting healthy risk-tasking, and perseverance.

(4) High Expectations Teaching can serve as a catalyst for promoting educational equity by helping teachers to uncover unconscious biases that hamper their effectiveness with struggling students.

(5) Includes a series of compelling Case Studies based on experiences of teachers and administrators
who worked to implement high expectations practices in their respective work with students and teachers.

(6) Accompanied by a series of original video clips that provide vivid depictions of High Expectations strategies in action.

Purchasing options

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