High expectations + teacher expertise = success

School photo

One of the joys of my job is getting to watch a range of school performances.

On Tuesday evening I went to see the Humbie Primary School Nativity at the Parish Church – a remarkable building in its own right.

Humbie Parish Church

I’ve been to many such nativities and I’m usually captivated by the enthusiasm and innocence which characterise the performance. But on Tuesday I watched something which had something in addition to these elements – and that was high quality performance, in fact quite exceptionally high quality. This is a school with 19 pupils – with every pupil being a member of the choir. They sang an extensive repetoire, using sophisticated singing techniques which I’d never really encountered in a primary school to such a level.

So how does this school reach such high standards? Firstly, I think it’s to do with the feeling of communty which pervades the school – “we do it for each other”, Secondly, the school has high expectations about anything with which the children engage. Thirdly, the singing tutor, Susan Hamilton is quite exceptional. Susan has been working with the school as part of the Youth Music Initiative. Susan is also a Director of Dunedin Consort and showed what’s possible when an adult sets high expectations for children and provides them with expert support to reach that standard.

The children’s response was outstanding and did demonstrate for me that we sometimes don’t set our expectations high enough – of course, having high expectations and failing to provide the support to allow these standards to be achieved can be incredibly damaging for all involved – but there was no chance of that here.

2 thoughts on “High expectations + teacher expertise = success

  1. this sounded amazing, wish i could have been there to see it!

    Having just completed the first run of the pantomime (second run in Jan) we were all working so hard to achieve the highest possible standard we could even when the students didn’t really know if it would all come together they still worked hard and it was amazing.

    I hear what you are saying regarding

    ‘having high expectations and failing to provide the support to allow these standards to be achieved can be incerdibly damaging for all involved’

    but is it not about teaching the students that failure isn’t the end of the world? I always teach my students to aim high BUT if it doesn’t work out then at least you tried and can learn from your mistakes. This is built into my creative and safe teaching environment.

    I always get upset when i see first year students getting emotional about failing, as i said before, it isn’t the end of the world if they do.

  2. Having encountered Susan in other contexts I know she could not but be inspiring. The children are very lucky to have her!

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