Expectations and Efficacy
Miss Bailey, a language arts teacher in a high poverty middle school believes “The average student, no matter what his social or economic status, wants to be better when he leaves the classroom than when he walked in. … I try to provide the tools for them to do that. I teach every student like I was teaching the president of the United States. … when more than half of our students are at risk, we are all at risk.
—Rust (1992, pp. 1G, 6G)
Currently, many educators advocate for or embrace beliefs such as “all students can succeed (or learn). ” What does this statement really mean in terms of practice? How do teachers' beliefs about students and their ability to teach them affect their teaching practice and student motivation and achievement? This chapter focuses on two related areas that reflect teacher confidence: teacher expectations and teacher efficacy. Teachers' expectations reflect teachers' beliefs about student capabilities to learn. Teachers' sense of efficacy refers to their confidence about how effective their teaching will be to bring about desired student achievement.
Since the publication of Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson's (1968) Pygmalion in the Classroom, the topic of teacher expectations and self-fulfilling prophecy has been of great interest and controversy. The Rosenthal-Jacobson research was designed to