The Anti-Pygmalion Attitude:
High expectations, reflection, and self-efficacy in high-performing teachers. 

by Chase Young

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Showing up to school with positive beliefs (Laureate Education, 2001), high expectations (Brehm & Kassin, 1996), and a combination of risk taking and reflection (Frank, 1999) safeguards against low achievement in students, frustration in teachers, and negativity in the classroom. In addition to success in the classroom, it helps prolong a healthy career as a teacher; this reminds teachers why they began in the field originally, and keeps high quality teachers working with eager students. 

Having a clear educational mission keeps expectations high, and enables teachers to stay on course with success. A positive attitude is renewed everyday with a clear focus on the mission. Disregard negative outlooks by society, the media, and colleagues (Laureate Education, 2001).  By eliminating these negative aspects of education, teachers can simply focus on students and the admirable task as a mind-molding machine. 

It is important to remember that negative beliefs are real to your mind. The power of negative thoughts are detrimental on a healthy career, however positive beliefs can sustain a good mentality with positive interactions, and an optimistic view in the classroom (Laureate Education, 2001). It is my belief that optimism coincides with the belief that every student can learn; every student learning coincides with success; and success coincides with a job well down resulting in a desire to return, and do it all over again--day after day. 

However, having high expectations can sometimes create frustration. Every day teachers face challenges. Each challenge is followed by our response. If our response does not create the desired outcome we become frustrated. However, high-performing teachers simply manipulate the response until such time a more desirable outcome is produced (Laureate Education, 2001).  This method has proven to be a useful tool for teachers as well as students. I have utilized this methodology in my classroom where students and I have seen change in outcomes for the better by manipulating responses based on a one on one discussion. 

Maintaining a sense of self-efficacy, utilizing your own mind to control challenges met in the classroom keeps teachers on healthy track towards teacher retirement as apposed to burnout (Wood, 2002).  To fully utilize this control, risk taking is a necessary skill to practice in teaching. Changing lessons to hit more learner styles can only happen by working outside a teacher’s comfort zone. After taking a risk, it is always important to reflect  to determine success, how deep the concepts were taught, modifications that can be made next time, and a way for you to feel good about a job well done (Costa & Kallick, 2000). 

We all became teachers because we wanted to help students learn. Personally, I fell in love with how students learn. There is nothing better than watching their sponge-like minds eagerly soak up material presented in class. This is why it is so important to remain positive, have high expectations, and take educated risks to ensure learning of all students. Dr. Schwab said to be positive and proactive, and that’s just what I’ll do (Laureate Education, 2001). 


Costa, A., & Kallick, B. (2000, April). Getting into the habit of reflection. Educational Leadership, 57(7), 60-62.

Frank, P. (1999, Fall). Become a reflective teacher: Define your teaching goals and continue to reevaluate them. ASCD Catalyst.  

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2001). The high-performing teacher. Los Angeles: Author.

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