I expect greatness from my students. I don’t mean that in the way that the stereotypical Asian dad in Searching for Bobby Fischer expects greatness from his super intelligent, but repressed son. Nor do I mean that in an epic-win sort of way. I also don’t mean that I expect every kid to be great at all times. There are two broad things I mean.
First of all, I always go on the assumption that somewhere in my classroom, there might be an Einstein or a Martin Luther King Jr. Perhaps a Bob Marley, an Earhart, or a Rosa Parks. I have no trouble admitting I’m horrified at the idea of being remembered as a teacher who stalled that child’s progress as a leader in any way, shape, or form. I want to do everything possible to have had an instructional and nurturing role in that person’s timeline.
Secondly, I mean that I expect all of my students to eventually become great in anything period. I’m totally positive that we are all stupendous at something already, and that we have the make-up to be supreme at other things. Whether it’s that they are the greatest hiker, or gardener, or tango teacher. If it’s that she will be an elite doctor, or cafe barrista, or sniper. A father, a store manager, a real estate agent. I like to think that I make an effort as a teacher to teach literacy, math, or phys. ed. with this framework in mind (whether I succeed in this may be another matter).
Greatness is culture-bound, relative, subjective, and sometimes beguiling. I expect it regardless.