According to Dr. Jon Saphier, in his book High Expectations Teaching, we need to get our students to believe in themselves, to believe that they have able brains, and to believe that effort is the main determinant of their academic success. If they are behind academically, it is not because there is anything wrong with their brains or that their "ability" is deficient. We need to teach them that smart is something you can get. Saphier explains that this belief and knowing how to act from it is a belief in malleable ability, effort-based ability, and the growth mindset: malleable ability meaning ability can be altered, effort-based ability meaning one's ability to do something is based on the effort extended to build it, and growth mindset meaning believing one can grow one's ability.
Our students need to believe that we believe in their capacity and we need to provide environments that send these messages at every turn:
Our job, especially with students who are behind, is to:
1. Convince them that they can grow their ability.
2. Show them how.
3. Motivate them to want to.
High Expectations by Jon Saphier is available for loan through the curriculum department if you would like to learn more.