Sunday, February 14, 2010

Creating a positive learning environment

Positioning kids for learning is an underestimated part of teaching programmes. If a student understands that creating a good impression is important, then this creates a pattern of behaviour that can continue throughout the year.

As a form teacher, it's important to remind kids of this, take a personal interest in their successes and reinforce disappointment when they step out of line. This creates a culture of success and reinforces the positives.

It can also snap a student out of negative behaviour before it becomes habitual.

Homework is one of those things that needs to be positioned early. It is time consuming to check homework daily, but initially there is no way around it. There needs to be real punishment for non compliance (I use check ability -> detention until complete -> blue note with letter for non-attendance -> phone call -> demotion to lower class). The letter part is my favourite as I can suggest a number of activities that might be suspended such as PS3/Wii/XBox, MSN, TV, sport, going out etc. until regular homework becomes established. Diaries and journals play an important part in this process to keep parents informed.

I have heard that imposing homework is too difficult (and it is difficult if done in year 10, without having the habit instilled earlier) but without it, we are expecting low SES kids to perform with potentially 3 hours per night less work completed compared to independent schools. This means state school kids are expecting to compete with 2/3 the effective work time.

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