Sunday, September 28, 2008

Establishing a connection with kids

Being a little fond of gimmicks, I've tried a few measures to connect with the kids. My guitar is a frequent addition during revision periods, I know a bunch of games on Playstation (and have an addiction to Guitar Hero, Singstar and Oblivion) and the Wii (and have another addiction to Mario Kart and the Wii Fit). I play any PC games that aren't FPS (am quite looking forward to Spore). I play a bit of soccer, follow the trials of the local footy teams, play cricket, have been a part of cross country teams, read fantasy fiction, like board games, watch Idol, Scrubs, have watched the first 7 seasons of Buffy, had a V8 commodore, grew up in the area, like modern dance music, remember the 'old school' rap scene first hand, have a history before teaching, can still do a laughable running man in time to music and can mispronouce emo as emu (as sticking your head in the sand is not a subculture). I know what Facebook, mySpace and proxies are.

And talking about all of these works with some kids but the upkeep is a fulltime occupation. The best gimmick I have found is an oldy but a goody.. the 'I'm a big maths dork and I don't have to be cool' line. It's 'like umm, the best thing, EVER!' - I can do whatever I like - dance strange, sing, wear a stupid tie, have green hair, long socks and sandals, anything.. Don't worry - he's just the maths dork.

The best fun of all is during duty sitting with a bunch of popular students. You sit down, they start to freak out and you have a laugh threatening to do this everyday until they improve. It's great and I heartily recommend doing it if you wish to instill a little fear of social decline! If that's not working you can always start talking about who likes who in class.

Entertaining students is not the only path to a great rapport. Another great way is to start a before school maths group for each year group that you teach. This has given us a lot of insight into which students are in the zone and for others given an avenue to ask for more assistance. It also gives whiners no excuse if they fall behind - the morning class is available if they need help!

For those recalcitrants who get sent to my room for faculty isolation, I make sure that the rest of the class has a good time and I refuse to allow the isolated student to engage. When they ask why isn't our class like this - I show them the work that these students get through in a lesson and show how it could be. Many of the younger students assume that more 'familiar' student/teacher rapport that year 11/12 students typically attain is a right, rather than an earned privilege and don't realise that 'respect' is a two way street (although they must be a little slower than normal if it has taken until year 10 to figure it out!).

Peer pressure also works well. If we are doing an activity that the majority enjoys and one student refuses to engage, I'll pack up the whole activity and do board work (copy the following into your book in silence and then complete questions 1-4350). The next time that student is not as quick to use "refusing to participate" as an attention seeking/power play strategy.

Lastly, in upper years I am interested in what their plans are past school. By knowing where students are going can help a lot in establishing relevancy of content. Also knowing their graduation point total (they need to earn 24pts, 'a C average' to graduate) can be a great focal point in the final two terms. The rule is - no work in class, no assistance out of class; no excuses, no extentuating circumstances or whining will change my mind. It's one of the few things I am fixed on as groups of students believing that their issues out of school and their social life ranks the needs of the rest of the class is plainly wrong. Setting work ethic before leaving school is the best lesson we can provide and an equity issue for those that work hard, week in, week out.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi, thanks for leaving a comment.. it's good to hear what people think!