Challenging Expectations

The Problem

Tanya and Wendy work with students with special learning needs and they think it is unacceptable that some teachers have low expectations of children because of their preconceived ideas that learners with special needs ‘can’t’. They believe in a school where everyone is valued as a learner, but the reality at the start of the Changemaker Program was that in their school context some staff had preconceived beliefs about abilities and learning, some students with learning needs weren’t being challenged in the classroom, and staff weren’t particularly interested in change as supporting learners with special needs is seen as time consuming.

Tanya and Wendy’s Solution

Tanya and Wendy decided they needed to challenge staff attitudes towards the learners they work with. At first, they started to celebrate achievement of learners with special learning needs more broadly, before they narrowed their focus to address literacy achievement.

They examined the data at their school to better understand the reality and found that spelling was a major issue. After seeking advice and taking a look at the strategies and approaches used at other schools, Tanya and Wendy purchased a data collection resource for their staff. After modelling the use of the literacy tracker, staff volunteered to run a trial in their classrooms. The trial has been really successful and at their next Student Free Day, staff at Tanya and Wendy’s school are going to decide how they can best move forward together.

Tanya and Wendy’s Impact

At this stage, all 52 children in the trial have experienced progress. Another 115 students have joined the program, with their teachers identifying the needs of their students and their next steps as educators.

“A student with low cognitive scores has moved from a score of 0/20 to 20/20 for his bank of words, and a week later he’d retained 17 of those words! More to come!”

Like the idea?

Tanya and Wendy would love your support for Challenging Expectations, or for you to start a similar program in your school, and they’d love to hear about any ideas you have or lend a hand where they can. Shoot an email to if you want to get in touch with Tanya and Wendy and we can connect you. Feel free to cheer them on in the comments below as well.

#WhatChangeLooksLike #ECStories #EduChange

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