Developing High Expectations for Students with Disabilities

Focus Area: Students with Disabilities


Phase: Targeted Support

Available Now


The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted and widened a spectrum of gaps in educational systems, policies, and practices that already existed, however, issues relating to equity and access have had longer lasting impacts that we see today. Students that have historically been marginalized have suffered the most, including students of color, students from low income households, and students with disabilities. Teacher expectations have long been an indicator of student achievement, which COVID19 has further exacerbated. This workshop focuses on students with disabilities and the influence an educator’s mindset and biases can have and manifest as expectations. Although there’s a lot of institutional change required to improve student outcomes, raising teacher expectations is a skill that can immediately shift engagement, achievement, and emotional competence now and with positive long-lasting results.


This virtual workshop experience is designed for educators that work exclusively with students with disabilities and educators that work with students that have disabilities integrated into the general education classroom. This virtual workshop reminds participants that all educators are special needs teachers, a core BL principle to working with students with disabilities.


I maintain and evaluate expectations that are both high and realistic for students with disabilities.

Learning Experience


To start, participants will share their experiences with having limited beliefs of students before reading an article to understand the impact and implications of those limiting beliefs. Shelves/Big Ideas are offered as pathways to challenge deficit thinking and, instead, to promote an asset-based mindset to maintain high expectations for all students but especially students with disabilities.


Next, participants explore the shelves that are acting as pathways. Participants will engage in a jigsaw to become an expert about one shelf before sharing their learnings with a group. To close this section, participants will engage with scenarios and agree to a solution for moving forward with an asset-based mindset of higher expectations.


To conclude this workshop, participants recall a time when they didn’t have high expectations and name strategies or shelves that could have helped them show up for a student differently. They’ll share their take-aways with peers to learn about what others are doing to remain accountable and for feedback.