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Is there anyone or anything more predictable than Norm from the decade-long television show Cheers? One district in Texas uses “predictable” Norm to make visible its norms of behavior. Fortunately, the district’s norms are standards of professional behavior and not the predictable behavior of Norm on Cheers that Sam, Woody, and viewers got to know all too well. The District does two things to normalize and encourage alignment to its standards of professional behavior:

Make the Norms of Behavior Visible. There was never an episode where Norm either said or did anything contrary to his reason for being at Cheers. His conversation was predictable; his behavior was predictable. Viewers witnessed (and enjoyed) his actions each episode—they expected it. The Arlington Independent School District reminds its leaders, teachers, and employees of its professional standards of behavior by making the behaviors visible on meeting agendas.

Empower Employees. The District also empowers participants at the meeting to be active in “NORMalizing” behavior. Each individual has a 5 x 7 of Norm on a stick that he/she can wave when an individual or conversation is not aligned to the district’s norms. Thus, district employees are actively engaged in aligning themselves and their colleagues to the professional standards of behavior.

A few days ago on National Public Radio, Morning Edition reported a story from their health blog on teachers’ expectations and the influence on student performance. A friend of mine introduced the story to me with the description “acting our way into right thinking” (personal communication). Similarly, one of my colleagues who is a former special education teacher shared that she has “often seen how teacher expectations tend to guide reality” (Facebook share). Dr. Robin Largue, a retired principal and school district administer offered that expectations need to be challenging but not overwhelming; it is a “fine line” (Facebook share). So, what does this mean for “expecting” behavior aligned to standards of professional behavior? Districts must make the norms visible and engage employees to take responsibility for them; like Norm on Cheers we want our colleagues to get to the point where they respond, “Have I gotten that predictable? Good,” when it comes to their actions and behaviors as educators.

 

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There are more than 64,000 students enrolled in the Arlington Independent School District (TX). Check out AISD at http://www.aisd.net/ to see how it delivers “More Than a Remarkable Education” to its students.

Teachers’ Expectations Can Influence How Students Perform. September 18. 2012. Available online.

Dr. Sarah Miller and Dr. Robin Largue comments available on the Studer Education Facebook page.

Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. To do this we work with school boards, leaders, and teachers to apply Evidence-Based continuous improvement processes and the principles from How to Lead Teachers to Become Great in their districts to get the best student learning results and create results-oriented school cultures. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.