Top tips for a positive classroom

  1. happyKnow your students – really know; find out what makes them tick, walk in their shoes, remember that they are just smaller version of you, with similar feelings and really they just want to feel that you care enough about them to make a difference.
  2. Recognise their individual differences and take action; make it your mission to find out how they learn, what they like to do and arm them with strategies so they can experience success. Teach them how to learn and the rest will fall into place. Perhaps you’d like to use my Learning Styles test and strategies: http://www.joprestia.com.au/images/My_LS_Test.pdf
  3. Be clear on your expectations of work and behaviour; say it, write it, show it, do it
  4. Establish a relationship; don’t think you have to be their best mate, certainly not, you are their teacher, but let them know you care enough to ask how they are travelling, to follow up, to give praise where praise is due and to explain how they can do better for next time.
  5. Encourage them; to be their best, set them high standards but not so high they cannot reach them, scaffold their learning so they can. Ensure everyone leaves with a sense of achievement.
  6. Believe in them; believe they not only can learn BUT they will learn. Now put in place the steps they need to do so, challenge them, question them, learn from them. Watch, listen, learn, they are very good at letting you know what they need so pay attention.
  7. Make learning relevant; find a link between what it is you want them to know and do and their own lives as 21st Century learners. ICT takes care of the facts, your task is to bring the ‘humanity’ to class.

 

Boys in schools

Just a few thoughts, (I’ve been reading up on boys’ education and it seems nothing has changed over the years…disappointingly I could probably, though I won’t, reuse all my work from 5 -10 years ago!) firstly, adapted from Martino, Kehler & Weaver-Hightower (2009):

  • girls are not to blame for boys’ underachievement in school
  • sitting boys next to girls in the hope that girls’ skills might rug off onto them is not the solution
  • it is a generalisation to say that boys don’t enjoy school
  • just because some boys enjoy school less than girls doesn’t mean all girls enjoy school
  • the widening achievement gap between boys and girls doesn’t mean boys are necessarily doing poorly, it could be girls are improving
  • boys’ behaviour may be described as poor BUT what impact is it having on the girls AND on boys whose behaviour is not poor?
  • behaviour – who owns it?
  • has the attention paid to girls’ education in the past come at the expense of boys?
  • Senn’s article EFFECTIVE APPROACHES TO MOTIVATE AND ENGAGE RELUCTANT BOYS IN LITERACY (2012) has some excellent points but it’s a similar message – boys are disinterested and we need to appeal to their sense of adventure. “The idea is not to ignore or pay less attention to the girls in our classrooms, but to broaden our thinking to include the specific needs of our boys and what they can achieve…” (p. 212)

So then what do we mean…the problem with boys? The problem is not just with boys, or with girls, I think the problem lies in the teaching and learning – not all of it BUT enough to suggest that we could do things better.