Basic Tenets & Classroom Practices: What Are They?
The Great Expectations® (GE) teaching/training model is guided by six basic tenets and seventeen classroom practices. The tenets and practices provide guidelines for program training and implementation and serve as standards for evaluating GE schools/districts.
- High Expectations
- Teacher Attitude and Responsibility
- Building Self-Esteem
- All Children Can Learn
- Climate of Mutual Respect
- Teacher Knowledge and Skill
The tenets are further defined by seventeen classroom practices that occur in GE classrooms. The daily use of these practices within the classroom setting assists students in becoming self-directed learners, productive citizens, effective communicators, critical thinkers, and cooperative contributors to the classroom as well as society.
- The teacher models desired behaviors and attitudes such as those set forth in the Life Principles and the Eight Expectations for Living.
- Students and teachers speak in complete sentences and address one another by name, demonstrating mutual respect and common courtesy.
- Students are taught as a whole group, thoroughly and to mastery, with intensive and specific modifications ensuring success for all.
- Lessons are integrated, related to the real world, reviewed consistently, and connected to subsequent curricula.
- Critical thinking skills are taught.
- A non-threatening environment, conducive to risk-taking, is evident. Mistakes are okay. Students are taught to learn from their mistakes and to correct them.
- Memory work, recitations, and/or writing occur daily. These enhance character development and effective communication skills while extending curricula. Recitations are exuberant and full of expression.
- Enriched vocabulary is evident and is drawn directly from challenging writings and/or wisdom literature. Sources should include classic literature, myths, fables, poetry, proverbs, quotes, and other genres.
- The Magic Triad, a positive and caring environment, and discipline with dignity and logic are evident.
- Every student’s work is displayed in some form. Teachers provide positive commentary through oral and/or written feedback.
- Word identification skills are used as a foundation for expanding the use of the English language.
- Students assume responsibility for their own behavior. Their choices determine consequences.
- A school, class, or personal creed is recited or reflected upon daily to reaffirm commitment to excellence.
- All students experience success. The teacher guarantees it by comparing
students to their own past performance, not the performance of others. Students are showcased, and past failures are disregarded.
- The teacher teaches on his/her feet, engages students personally, holds high expectations of students, and does not limit them to grade level or perceived ability.
- Each classroom has a student who greets visitors and makes them feel welcome and comfortable.
- Teachers and students celebrate the successes of others.
The implementation of GE classroom practices is a process. The practices are interwoven and difficult to fragment after one attains full implementation, but it may be helpful to “scaffold” or build a framework of implementation by becoming skilled at a few classroom practices and adding a few more until all practices are implemented.
In an effort to provide an incremental plan for implementing the classroom practices, the following step-by-step approach is recommended.
It is very important that all seventeen classroom practices be fully implemented, on a daily basis, no later than the beginning of the second semester of the school year.
In addition to fully implementing all seventeen classroom practices during the second semester of the school year, specific focus should be given to a particular classroom practice each week.
(1st & 2nd Weeks of Sch. Yr.)
(3rd & 4th Weeks of Sch. Yr.)
(2nd Month of Sch. Yr.)
(3rd Month of Sch. Yr.)
1, 6, 9, 13, 14, 15
2, 3, 10, 11, 16, 17
5, 7, 12
Southwest Educational Development Laboratory in Austin, Texas, investigated the extent that GE practices were implemented in classrooms. The following section describes the four groups of teachers that were identified.
The classification of “Model” Implementers describes those teachers who integrate unique elements of GE throughout all aspects of their teaching. Model Implementers are able to both integrate GE classroom practices at a high level and to incorporate active engaging instructional practices. The unique GE practices, such as conducting lexicon lessons, having students speak in complete sentences, using discipline with dignity techniques, and incorporating the life principles are seamlessly interwoven into classroom events. In addition to direct teaching practices, Model Implementers’ classrooms are often arranged in ways that facilitate group work and provide an area that is “home-like” – usually having a couch and/or a rug area for students to sit and
Teachers who are classified as “Progressive” GE Implementers are able to integrate GE practices at a fairly high level. These teachers incorporate active, engaging instructional practices. The notable difference between Model and Progressive Implementers is that Progressive Implementers are somewhat fragmentary in their approach to GE practices. Progressive Implementers’ practices are not as seamlessly interwoven compared to the flow of Model Implementers’ classroom events. Progressive Implementers are not as skilled as their Model colleagues in bringing together the broad array of GE practices. Progressive Implementers incorporate many GE elements, but not all GE elements.
Teachers who are classified as “Transitional” GE Implementers integrate only a few GE practices. They are called “transitional” because many of these teachers are either new to GE or are slower to incorporate GE practices. These teachers tend to look primarily like “traditional” teachers, although they do use a few GE practices. Teachers at this level of implementation usually do not incorporate learning games or use thematic, interrelated subjects and activities. Transitional Implementers generally conduct almost all their instruction through whole-class activities. The typical lesson is teacher-directed, most often through the use of teacher questioning and student answering. Group work is seldom observed in these classrooms. The primary difference between Progressive Implementers and Transitional Implementers is the depth, breadth, and consistency of use of the GE practices.
Teachers who are classified as “Resistant” GE Implementers tend to incorporate only minor, superficial aspects of GE. They do not appear to be particularly supportive of GE implementation. Most of their implementation involves simple compliance with school-level implementation requirements. Although their classrooms may display quotes, life principles, or classroom expectations, Resistant GE Implementers do not refer to them. These teachers tend to look primarily like “traditional” teachers devoid of GE elements. When they attempt to use door greeters, celebrations, or complete sentences, it is apparent that the students are not accustomed to doing these activities. Teachers at this level of implementation do not incorporate learning games or use thematic, interrelated subjects and activities. The typical lesson is teacher-directed, and most often uses a teacher-questioning and student-answering format. Group work is usually not observed. Resistant Implementers seem reluctant to exert effort toward implementing GE practices.