"No one rises to low expectations." Many educators have probably heard this quote at some point in their professional career. The saying challenges us as educators to set the bar high for our students, and for ourselves; to seek excellence as a standard, not as a fortunate surprise. It challenges us not to engage in deficit-minded thinking when we interact with students, because our words and our actions send a powerful message that can quickly become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Often, when I am introducing myself to a group, I start by letting the audience know that I am the mother of a four-year old son, and that reality makes me an optimist and a realist (for those of you who don’t know me, I am African American, which may shed some light on that statement). I make this opening remark not to elicit praise, sympathy, or empathy, but to state a fact about my lived experience, and my optimism and skepticism about what will be my son’s lived experience.