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A teacher's beliefs about students' chances of success in school influence the teacher's actions with students, which in turn influence students' achievement. If the teacher believes students can succeed, she tends to behave in ways that help them succeed. If the teacher believes that students cannot succeed, she un wittingly tends to behave in ways that subvert student success or at least do not facilitate student success. This is perhaps one of the most powerful hidden dynamics of teaching because it is typically an unconscious activity.
In the Classroom
Returning to our classroom scenario, Mr. Hutchins realizes that he has different opinions about the abilities of the different students in the class. As a human being, it is difficult not to have such opinions. But he also realizes that these opinions can influence how he behaves toward individual students. To counteract the potential negative influence of his behaviors, he continually asks himself the following question, particularly when dealing with students for whom he has doubts about their chances for success in class: “If I believed this student was completely capable of learning this content, what would I be doing right now?”