One of our counselors recently came in to speak to each of my block classes about an upcoming mentoring program in which they were about to be involved. As she spoke, she kept saying things like, “I know this may be new, but I thank you in advance for cooperating and giving it a chance. Thank you in advance seemed to catch me off guard. As I listened to her speak several more times to each of my other classes, she continued to use the term, “thank you in advance…”  It occurred to me that she was setting an expectation of behavior. That expectation spoke volumes in my mind, and I had to ask myself if I taught with expectation, and if I lived with expectation in my job and personal life as well, and if I didn’t, would my life and career dramatically change if I did? Is there any real power in the expression of expectation? It is a type of Growth Mindset? It turns out that the Power of Expectation and the Growth Mindset are nearly one and the same, and are two very real tools that we as educators can and must use in order to get the results we need in and out of the classroom.

The Power of Expectation-

The Power of Expectation is: “A strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future,” or, “A belief that someone will or should achieve something.”  In Growth Mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work, and that brains and talent are just the starting point. It seems that having the ability to believe you can achieve is an amazing tool. When we express expectation, we are saying that we believe that our students have the ability to become more than they are.

Fascinatingly enough, when looking at a graph on the usage of the word “expectation” from the years 1800-2008 (Google Books), the word itself has dropped off dramatically in the last 208 years. This could be an interesting fact or mean nothing at all, but I had to wonder, do we use the word less because we’ve become a society that has come to expect less from ourselves, our world or our young people? Here are some famous expectations of 8th grade students little more than one hundred twenty years ago:

8th Grade Final Exam:

Salina , KS – 1895

Grammar (Time, one hour)

  1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters. 2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.  3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.  4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.  5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.  6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.  7-10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

  1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.  2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?  3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts. per bu, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?  4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?  5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.  6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.  7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $.20 per inch?  8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.  9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?  10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

History (45min.), Orthography (1 hour) and Geography (1 hour) were also included in this same test.

It is true, our youth today are expected to know many things as well, but one has to wonder if the youth of yesterday were treated with the same power of expectations as the youth of today?

All is Not Lost –

Society has changed over the years, but all is not lost. Young people ARE doing life changing, world changing things each and everyday, only it rarely makes the news. Look at this article of what eight young people have done in their young lives. Or these ten young people of 2013. S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders when she was in junior high and Mary Shelley produced the manuscript for Frankenstein at the age of nineteen. What separates these young achievers from the rest of the pack? Could it be at an early age, some adults instilled a type of Growth Mindset in their lives? Could it be that someone said, “Thank you in advance…” to them and it stuck?

“Thank you in advance” are powerful words. They set an expectation. Some would disagree that having high expectations is a good thing (see the equation for happiness), while others like Carol Deweck and her Growth Mindset discovery would concur with its power. Having the courage to say “Thank you in advance” can set the course for achievement in many cases. It is indeed a powerful thing.




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