“Pygmalion in the staff room: how the manager’s expectations affect the development of the staff’’ – Part A

(Reading time: 3 - 6 minutes)

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Reaction formation

When students have had many negative experiences from various schools and teachers, they end up rejecting all schools and teachers as useless. Actually these students exhibit the very behaviour that is expected of them.

They seem to be telling us that if we think they are hopeless losers they will behave as such.

The cause of this behaviour is that the students have been disappointed so many times, that they do not want to invest on yet another teacher, only to be disappointed again because this teacher will never have any expectations of them nor believed in them.

Much like those disappointed students, teachers exhibit reaction formation too.

If teachers feel that the school administration does not value them, they don’t value the school either. Valuing others is a two way street and we cannot expect to be appreciated by those we do not appreciate.

If teachers are made to feel “lacking” and “limited”, they will soon perform as limited to the detriment of the school, its students and its future sales.

This will trigger a vicious circle, as the staff which was perceived as limited will bring about the negative consequences the manager thought it would.

Once again, self-fulfilling prophecies can take over once we let them. What the staff does is inextricably related with what the school administration does to guide and support the teacher.

Therefore, to have a better staff, we must have better administration.

More issues
This month’s article does not end with a conclusion. It just poses more questions. Why is hiring and firing in our field so hastily done and never based on actual data that can derive from observations, appraisals or the teacher’s professional portfolio?

Finally, why would managers who run their own businesses end up working with people they do not hold in esteem? And what can be done to change this situation? These will be answered in November’s column.

Maria Sachpazian BA education / RSA dip/tefl (hons) is the Academic and Managing Director of Input on Education a company which provides academic, business support and consultancy to Foreign Language Schools. She is also an educational management specialist who has worked as a teacher trainer and materials’ developer. Maria works as an EFL teacher at the Straight Up Markoyannopoulou schools. www.input.edu.gr / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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