While chatting with some undergraduate seniors who had just finished their advancement to candidacy interviews, I wasn't surprised to hear one student say to me, "I know someone who got you on their panel and she was petrified that you were on it." I knew in the short time I had been at this university that I had developed a reputation for holding students to high expectations. What I was unprepared to hear was another student who interrupted with, "But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Since I took your class last year I now think in all my classes, 'how would Professor Mo expect me to complete this assignment?' and that's what I try to do in all my classes. I am sure that's why I've done so well in school since last year."
I try very hard to find the right balance between having high expectations for my students yet providing them with the skills to meet those expectations. What I have found is that many students' have not yet developed a strong sense of self-efficacy. As a future teacher, it is imperative that they develop this sense of self-efficacy because without it they will never be able to nurture it in their own future students. There are several strategies I am currently using to support all students, but particularly those who still need to develop this sense of self-efficacy. First, I give very targeted advice on all assignments similar to "If you do xyz, this paper will be greatly strengthened." This was the type of advice I needed as a student and didn't necessarily always receive. Second, I emphasize the importance of class discussion as a means of critical thinking rather than to a "right answer." For example, I typically ask one student to "start of" a response to a question noting that an incomplete response is perfectly acceptable and get additional students to add on to the response when we discuss complex concepts that are new to them. I know that many students feel uncomfortable with this kind of engagement but my goal is to transform such occasional discomfort to routine professional discourse. Third and finally, I outwardly agree with my students that my classes are both challenging and demanding but explicitly remind them that I have faith that they will succeed. When students lose faith, they must rely on others, especially their mentors. I by no means consider these strategies as "solutions" but rather consider myself still endeavoring to find the right balance between meeting my students' academic and professional needs and nurturing their confidence. In all my years of teaching I have held similar high expectations of all my students whether I was teaching a course at Harvard, Lesley, Salem State, or UOP. I believe that all students are capable of success and that a large part of my role in facilitating their success isn't just to impart knowledge and skills, but also to foster a visceral belief in their own abilities to succeed. By providing my students with practical steps to success alongside my belief in them, I hope to affect their own sense of self-efficacy, and hopefully also, the success of their future students.
EdD, Harvard Graduate School of Education Language and Literacy, November 2010
EdM, Harvard Graduate School of Education Human Development and Psychology, June 2003 Boston College Lynch School of Education Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology, June 2002
Credentialing, Los Angeles Unified School District Clear California Credential with CLAD, November, 1997 L.A.U.S.D. Intern Program
B.A. University of California, Los Angeles World Literature & Psychology, December, 1994
- English Learners
- Literacy Development
- Vocabulary Development
- Multicultural Education
- Critical Literacies
- Teacher Development