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EXPECTATIONS ABOUT HIGH EXPECTATIONS

by Ronald A. Williams, President

In January, I had the opportunity to discuss several issues with you at the faculty assembly —the most important of which is our commitment to establishing and maintaining high expectations for our college, faculty, and students.  Through this column, I would like to reinforce that message and urge you to make high expectations an integral part of our academic culture and institutional ethos. 

Expectations exert powerful influences upon both student and teacher behavior —regardless of whether those expectations come from an external source or are held internally as self-expectations.  Not surprisingly, highly motivated students and faculty do better than unmotivated students and faculty.  The trick is determining what it takes to set and maintain high expectations.

Certainly, without high expectations, we would not have become a Greater Expectations Leadership Institution.  We would not have created the Honors Academy, the Metropolitan Ebony Theatre, Online Express, the Book Bridge Project, the Center for Academic Resource Development, or opened two new campus sites in Hyattsville and Laurel. Our  ALANA/AOBA mentoring program and our many community festivals could not enjoy the sterling success that they do.

These achievements are visible evidence that Prince George's Community College has high expectations.  There are, however, less visible expectations and achievements that are just as important to our survival and success as a nationally recognized, intellectually vibrant institution. We need to expect more of our students and of each other. 

The expectations we set for our students must be just as high as the expectations we have for our college and ourselves.  We must create a climate conducive to learning that changes our students’ expectations about their responsibilities as college students.  Setting high expectations in a student's first semester establishes the tone for the rest of that student's college career.  As I said in my remarks in January, your job is to demonstrate that we expect our students to be responsible participants in a first-rate institution.  In order to achieve this goal,  every faculty member must be committed to preparing our students for the serious work that lies ahead of them.  

We all have to believe that our students do want to learn and develop critical thinking skills and, through our inspired teaching, we must ensure that they adhere to high standards of performance and accept responsibility for their learning.  Students  do want to learn how to think—we simply need to show them how. 

So what does it take to set and maintain higher expectations?  How do you create a climate conducive to superior learning? Interestingly, one of the key factors is how well you communicate with your students—both verbally and nonverbally.  Remember that students are drawn to and learn best from teachers they trust and perceive as competent and caring.  Ask yourself:

  • Do your students know that you expect them to produce high quality college work—good writing, critical thinking, and content mastery?
  • Do you provide feedback that lets your students know how well they are doing throughout the semester?
  • Do you intervene when a student appears to be having problems?
  • Do your students understand that you expect them to come to class on time and to be well prepared?
  • Do your students believe that hard work and high standards will help them learn and succeed?

To the extent that we can answer yes to these questions, we are well on the road to achieving our vision of excelling as a nationally recognized, intellectually vibrant college.  My job, and the challenge facing every administrator, is that of helping you achieve these goals by supporting faculty development.  We will do everything possible to support faculty achievement and find more ways of recognizing and rewarding those who set and achieve high expectations.  To do less is to abandon our mission; to do more is to achieve our vision.

 

The Instructional Area Newsletter, Volume 17, No. 3

Spring 2002