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Creating Cultures of Thinking: Expectations

Resources for "Creating Cultures of Thinking: The Eight Forces We Must Master To Truly Transform Our Schools" by Ron Ritchhart of Project Zero at HGSE. [Guide by Stephen Taylor for Western Academy Beijing]


EXPECTATIONS: Recognizing How Our Beliefs Shape Our Behavior


A set of strong beliefs surrounding future outcomes and anticipated results. As a culture shaper, expectations operate as “belief sets” or ‘action theories’ that influence our own efforts in relation to the achievement of desired goals and outcomes with respect to our teaching. In this way, expectations not only set our course, but also act as an internal compass that keeps us moving toward our goal.

It is important to note that this departs from the way teachers more typically think of “expectations”, that is, as an explicit expression of standards used to direct and inform the behavior of others.

[Source: Project Zero]

How do our expectations shape the culture of the classroom and our students' approaches to learning?

What messages are we sending regarding our expectations for learning for our students? 

Development of a Culture of Thinking Self-Assessment


Below is a list of five ideas to consider when creating a Culture of Thinking in your classroom 

  1. Make a conscious effort to communicate to students that your classroom is a place which thinking is valued. 

  2. Establish a set of expectations for learning and thinking with your students in a similar way that you establish behavioral expectations.

  3. Stress that thinking and learning are the outcomes of a class activity as opposed to 'completion of work.'

  4. "Developing understanding" is the goal of classroom activity and lessons versus knowledge acquisition only. 

  5. Student independence is being actively cultivated so that students are not dependent on the teacher to answer all questions and direct all activity.  

from Ron Ritchhart's The Development of a Culture of Thinking in My Classroom: Self-Assessment

Five Expectations That Help Shape A Culture Of Thinking

Poster by Stephen, adapted from