I was talking to a teacher from America last week, and was disappointed and shocked by what I heard about her

Your students will not climb the mountain if you praise them for sleeping at the bottom.
Challenge your students to succeed. 

school’s expectations for students.  Unfortunately, low expectations or no expectations are common.

Teachers do not give bad grades, such as Fs or anything below 60.  Mediocre effort is awarded a good score and even the worst submissions are a “good effort”.  Difficult subjects, like math, are considered hard and students are not expected to do well because, you know, it’s hard for them so we should not expect too much.

There are so many things wrong with this style of guiding students that I could write a book about it, but I will only say that, by doing this, teachers are telling students not to try, learning is too hard so don’t bother, and that any effort is good.  For students learning under this system (if you can call it that), they will have problems coping with the harsh demands of the real world later on, thanks to bad teaching.

The worst thing about low expectations is that it does not respect the students.  It assumes the students are so daft that they do not understand what the teachers are doing.

No way.  Students know how much effort they put into the assignment.  They know the quality of work they did. They also know that they could have done better.

As I often tell my students, they are not competing with each other.  They are competing with themselves.  They should work hard–not to do better than Jane or Jim, but to do better than themselves.  They should do better today than they did yesterday.  Improving yourself is the only important measure here.

Students will have high expectations if you, the teacher, also do.  We cannot reward poor efforts with praise, but instead we should be honest.  “You can do better than this,” is a good phrase for a student whose work is below potential.  For the slow student, “You’re improving, so keep at it,” or something like that is ideal.

But, telling a student that they did a “good effort” for poor work is not only lazy for the teacher, but it is a lie, and will lose you respect from the students, and your respect for yourself.