Raising the Bar: 3 Tips for Elevating the Classroom Experience

Greg Shamie
Greg Shamie
Teacher giving a geography lesson in classroom at the elementary school

 In my last article, Meeting Them Where They Are, I shared 3 strategies on how to interact with your participants in a way that makes them feel valued and empowered. Now I want to explore how to raise the bar: Whether you are teaching a class or leading a training, workshop, or weekly staff or departmental meeting. Here are three essential tips to ensure you do this as effectively as possible:

  1. Have High Expectations

Have you ever heard of the Pygmalion study? This was an experiment conducted by Harvard’s Robert Rosenthal in the 1960’s in an elementary school that tested whether a teacher’s expectations had an impact on students’ performance. Teachers were given false information about the learning potential of certain students. They were told that these specific students were tested and were found to have a high degree of intellectual potential. In reality: the students had been selected at random.

The outcome was that these targeted students demonstrated elevated results in standardized IQ tests, much higher than the other students. In other words, teacher’s expectations influenced an improved academic performance. It seemed that if the teacher expected success then the student had a significant advantage to achieve higher results. Consequently, if a teacher had low expectations for a student the reverse would happen. Therefore, in order to raise the bar, you must first commit to having high expectations for all of your participants. 

  1. Interrupt Your Judgments

Have you ever made assumptions about your participants? We all have pre-conceived thoughts and assumptions that we make about others. Our experiences are constantly bombarded with messages based on gender, race and ethnicity, economic status, ability, weight, and appearance, just to name a few. These messages impact our thoughts. Simply put, our experiences shape our perspective. Whatever our prejudices are based on, they are real. As a leader, you must acknowledge them in order to interrupt them before they begin to influence your actions. Therefore, in order to raise the bar, commit to being aware of your thoughts and to consciously interrupt them before they begin to affect how you see and think about your participants.

  1. Encourage

As a leader of groups I commit to being a constant "encourager": someone who is continually assessing where my participants are at and intentionally challenging them to grasp further than their reach. We must make a conscious effort to believe in each individual no matter what may be influencing our thoughts. We must search for their successes, deliberately highlight them, and do our best to help each participant build on what they are already accomplishing. 

Remember these three tips when leading a group:

  1. Have High Expectations: Challenge participants to rise to their potential greatness.
  2. Interrupt Your Judgements: Being a role model by being aware and interrupting your judgments.
  3. Encourage: By being a champion "encourager" of those you are leading, you will increase the chances of raising the bar for your participants.

How do you raise the bar in your work? Where do you struggle? Tell me in the comments below, or

"Raising the Bar: 3 Tips for Elevating the Classroom Experience", The Leadership Program, Inc. 2016

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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Greg Shamie

By Greg Shamie

Greg Shamie is the Director of Staff Development at The Leadership Program, having been with the company for over 18 years. An internationally recognized facilitator, keynote speaker, and strategic coach, Greg’s focus is to inspire individuals to go beyond what they believe is possible. He loves the concept of Leadership no matter what a person’s role and is committed to helping people expand their perspectives on how to set and achieve their goals. He has presented internationally on such topics such as, “Leading By Example”, “Finding the Leader Within”, "Perseverance and the Power of Failure”, “Delivering Dynamic and Compelling Presentations”, and many more. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Broadway Inspirational Voices (BIV) in New York City. Greg received his Masters in Educational Theatre from NYU. His professional mantra is ‘Connecting people and performance to purpose’.