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Tool: Communicating care and high expectations

Teachers communicate the expectations they hold for their students in several ways. The following checklist helps you to reflect on how well you communicate high expectations to your students. Think of each item you answer “no” to as an opportunity to create a more equitable learning environment for your students.

In your classroom, do all students (of different ethnic groups, male, female, different abilities, different social identities)…

  1. have your encouragement to share their thinking and reasoning in small groups or with the whole class?
  2. receive varied and quality feedback from you (questions, constructive criticism, praise)?
  3. expect to take responsibility within small groups and in the whole class?
  4. gain practice trying out their own ideas or solutions to problems as well as applying more conventional approaches?
  5. have opportunities to work with manipulatives and other hands-on learning tools?
  6. have a chance to use examples that draw on their own interests and experiences?
  7. follow classroom rules so that no one dominates class time and your attention?
  8. have equal time at computers or with other technologies?
  9. have opportunities to construct hypotheses, make predictions, use multiple methods to solve problems or initiate inquiry?

Do you…

  1. use language that is inclusive of all kinds of students?
  2. provide activities for all students to develop high-level skills?
  3. allow adequate wait time for students to answer a question?
  4. explicitly communicate how you will evaluate students’ performance and hold all students accountable to high standards?
  5. find ways to engage all students in discussions, including quiet students?
  6. find ways to provide all students ways to show what they learned from discussions?
  7. analyze your interactions with students for biased language and stereotyping?
  8. analyze the activities you engage students in to check for any biases against students’ backgrounds, gender or family structures?
  9. use texts that are free of stereotypes and misrepresentations of people of color, women, working class people and other social groups?
  10. engage students in critiquing texts that may contain such stereotypes and misrepresentations?
  11. structure activities so that you vary cooperative and competitive tasks?
  12. encourage all students to be confident in their abilities to succeed in school subjects?
  13. encourage students to explore and pursue fields that have traditionally been closed to people of their social identities or cultural background (e.g., math and science for girls and students of color, etc.)

Adapted from Christina Perez, Equity checklist for the standards-based classroom,