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Posted Aug 14, 2019 - 11:43am

By Jane Odom, M.Ed - Director of Implementation Resources, PRC-Saltillo

My new favorite podcast is called ‘Invisibilia’ from NPR.  It looks at the unseeable forces that control human behavior.  I learn something new with each episode. 

One episode focused on “Expectations”.  They told the story of a group of lab rats.  One group was labeled as “smart” and the other group was labeled as “dumb”.  A group of experimenters were asked to have the rats run through a maze.  Amazingly the smart rats were considered quicker, smarter and more apt to learn quickly.  The other dumb rats were considered less intelligent, more stubborn and lazy.  The results were amazing.  The smart rats did twice as well as the dumb rats.  But the thing was, the rats were all the same – just standard laboratory rats. The expectations the scientists had in their heads affected the way they behaved with the rats.  The smart rats were handled more gently and lovingly so performed much better due to that caring interaction. 

What does this have to do with anything?  It does.  Our students.  In Harry Wong’s book “The First Days of School”, he says “the teacher thought I was smarter than I was, so I was”. 

As we begin this school year, you may know your students.  You may hear stories about what they can and can’t do.  I challenge you to ignore all the noise.  Learn who your students are for yourself.  Believe that they can learn.  Challenge them to learn.  Have high expectations whether it is goals for communication, literacy or social skills.  Let them show you who they are and what they can do without any preconceived notions or labels. 

I am pretty sure they will surprise and amaze you. 

Stories and Strategies fo...  -    AAC, special ed, expectations, invisibilia, students