How Teachers Perceive Students

When instruction is guided by where the learner currently stands, it is hoped that the teacher's perceptions are correct. A teacher's perception not only guides differentiated instruction, but also influences in general the future achievement of the pupil. Unfortunately, there are subjective factors that come into play in how a teacher may view a student. It is fairly common for favoritism to occur inside a classroom.

Above copied from Comic Strip of the Day
Yes, it is just a comic strip, but even published research shows how a child behaves affects a teacher's perception. The following is an excerpt from a paper scheduled to be published in the Journal of Educational Psychology:

Above copied from Baker, C. N., Tichovolsky, M. H., Kupersmidt, J. B., Voegler-Lee, M. E., & Arnold, D. H. (2014, October 20). Teacher (Mis)Perceptions of Preschoolers’ Academic Skills: Predictors and Associations With Longitudinal Outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication. 
The above paper looks specifically at the preschool stage, but the findings are in agreement with those of previous studies done at kindergarten and elementary years:

  • The ability in both math and reading of children who are inattentive are often underestimated by teachers.
  • The ability in both math and reading of children who exhibit defiant behavior are often overestimated by teachers.
  • Social skills may protect a child against low teacher expectations for academic performance.

A teacher's perception is significant as noted in the above excerpt. It influences academic performance for multiple years. Teaching involves making judgments. Teacher training in this aspect is especially important for instructors in the early years of basic education. How teachers form their perceptions needs to be addressed and of course, specific training in the area of choosing appropriate support or intervention is warranted especially when the instruction is guided by where the learner stands.