Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Creating inspirational students

Students aren't born inspirational. They're born rather podgy blobs that whinge a lot... Some never change...

This week I spent a bit of time reminding my year 10's that they are inspirational. Lower school students look to them for cues on how to behave, on determining what is important and setting the tone within the school. If they want a happy school - be happy. If they want a school with a million rules - do stupid things. If they want a school based on success of students, show the lower years that our school can perform at a high level.

For this I think it is important that we create opportunities for them to be successful and protect those that foster these activities. It might be taking an interest in a student that is doing an afterschool ESL class, or not getting grumpy with the dance teacher that is taking students out of class for a recital, being supportive of the physical education staff and their events, supporting SOSE excursions by providing extra supervisor bodies or helping out with relief classes.

I think it also means looking for information that might help inspire kids. I recently found two books by the actress that played Winnie on the Wonder Years (Kevin's girlfriend for those of you ancient enough to remember). One is called 'Math doesn't suck' and the other is 'Kiss my Math'. The books themselves may be just the thing to get a student going and get them to believe that you care about how they think. The maths is a bit dodgy in places ('Highest common factor' becomes 'greatest crush factor') but it has a go at making maths pop culture ready and that's a good thing.

Another bit of success I've had is to let them into my life a little. Last class we created tally tables on the best baby name that we had selected. Next time I'll have a silent poll as it was a case of many just following the leader. Maybe this is a discussion in itself. We've also used my history to investigate stocks, examine salary ranges and evaluate priorities on what is important in life.

Another opportunity has been with my guitar. I am worse than hopeless, but the kids see that I am still learning well beyond school.

Lastly whenever a leadership event occurs I draw their attention to it and suggest that they pay heed to things done well or poorly as they will soon be in that position. If they can learn good leadership habits now, they will be in better stead going forward.

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