Showing posts with label self esteem. Show all posts
Showing posts with label self esteem. Show all posts

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Role models and dreams of the future

It was posed to me who I looked up to as a role model.  The example given to me was the queen of England and I was asked to think of one better.

Scary to think that I couldn't come up with one.

Scary to think that we, as a generation can offer no-one up that is both as well known as the queen and as publicly selfless.

We've given this generation narcissism and fame hunger.  Sarah Hanson Young and the Leyonhold guy.  "Me too", sexual harassment, anxiety, loss of hope, an emptiness hard to fill.

I think about the cold, emotionless education system we've created where a few people doing horrific things to children have destroyed what could be a loving and nurturing environment and turned it into something sterile and with the sole purpose of providing skills and knowledge to survive post schooling.   ... and not even doing that particularly well.

As a male teacher, being hugged by a student, places you at risk of a standards and integrity investigation and criminal charges.  Being a female teacher now is changing to do the same thing.  To protect ourselves we cannot be a role model to students - the barrier of societal trust is not there.  Where we once at least had gender appropriate roles that protected the emotional self of a student, strong male and female role models that fulfilled different roles that were ok, now neither can help fill the void created by a society where two parents work and the relationships that help build a whole person are not being supplemented by a society that forgets that nurturing its young is its prime imperitive.

When children need emotional support, there is nowhere for them to turn.  There are times when I see distressed students that are seeking emotional support and the best we can offer them is counselling, when they really just want a hug and to believe it will be ok.  Those two things are powerful are missing from our education system.  It wasn't always this way. 

Ten years in teaching and I have not seen this issue addressed in other than band aid modes.  Will we look back and think how the hell did we miss this.

I watch year groups robotic in their approch to schooling, lacking a love of learning, of each other or the school system.  Seeking to get by to their next step as citizens.

It's wrong.

I don't know how to fix it.  It will take brighter minds than mine.   Maybe its a call to our generation beyond the teaching fraternity to stand up and be good role models - do great things and become examples for our youth that teachers can point to.  Something to aspire to and give belief and love back to a generation feeling lost.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Importance of self esteem

There are always groups of students that are difficult to reach.  Students that do not directly benefit from mathematics in the short term can lack motivation to attempt work, leading slowly to disengagement.  Success with these students often relies on making a personal connection with them, sharing part of your life indicating that students that do not go directly to university are still successful in life.

My approach for this centres around experiences when I was not much older than my students.  I am lucky that during my formative adult years I had little support and passed through many jobs; nightfill, fast food, labouring, kitchen hand, reception,  data entry, accounts, furniture removal.  These jobs were not  the high flying roles that I had later in my twenties, but they enabled me, I had skills and could recognise opportunities that those closeted in university may not have had access to.

It's an important message for kids not destined for direct entry university.  Many lack any vision of the future and don't have an understanding of hope - they're simply living for the now. The simple message that "if you're willing to work harder than anyone else, you'll start to get ahead" is an eye opener for them.  I couple this with some basic finance, setting a budget, learning about credit card debt, saving half your income, basic investment strategies and interest calculations to show them that the jobs they may be already in, can provide them with financial security with a small amount of planning.

A favourite lesson is valuing a dollar saved.  Most (if not all) kids do not recognise that a dollar spent is worth more than a dollar earned.  To spend a dollar we must have already paid taxes, the bills and all the costs of living.  An dollar saved may require three or four dollars to be earned first.  If students can get this ratio down to 1:1 they are on their way to financial independence.  When a third factor is introduced (investment) and they can cover expenses through investment dollars they can increase the time to enjoy life and enable retirement.

Many are destined for jobs they will not enjoy.  If working has a clear purpose, it will make for better employees that value their employment. I also tell them that a bit of life experience can help them understand the importance of education.  I didn't finish my degree until my thirties!

Another message is to give them is a multi-generational viewpoint.  All say they want their kids to go to better schools, they want houses, weddings, fast cars, plasma TVs.  If they understand the costs incurred during later life and can aim from the beginning to help their kids during their lives, it will promote a budgeting outlook rather than hand-to-mouth accounting.

I try and invoke the principle that taking pleasure in "giving" is the simplest path to happiness.  There are many occupations where the pleasure of working becomes a part of the attraction to the work.  You won't become rich but you will have a life of rich experiences and make fruitful contributions to society.  Teaching and nursing are two that spring to mind, and we do have a disproportionate number of students seeking math teaching and nursing each year.

These things, together with providing rich mathematical programmes (and not falling into the trap of assuming these kids need an impoverished curriculum purely because of low assessed results), can turn around students that are disengaging.

I think that seeing future pathway is a path to positive self image that can improve their self esteem.  Self worth of some of these kids is at rock bottom but it can take very little to get them excited again about their futures.  Lessons like these are part of a broader picture to get our kids thinking ahead.

I don't think I'm explaining myself well here, but I think the gist is present.  After six years of teaching here, the formula for delivering lower performing students (or students with a disrupted educations) is getting quite complex but some general strategies are emerging.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Reasons to not achieve

"Low ability" students have always been a bit of an enigma to me.  I put them in quotes, as many times they are not actually low ability, they only demonstrate low ability under assessment conditions.  They come in many shapes and sizes.

The student that does not value education.
On occasion I get one of these.  They're the ones that ask why are we doing (whatever it is)...   The answer is fairly simple in that the curriculum is set and the government pays me to teach it.  Blame your parents they elected the government.  The alternative is to identify how each topic is applicable to the workforce (which inevitably ends in I'm not doing that) which makes embedding context for these students a reasonably ineffective approach.  I have a book that does this, if they continue I direct them to it.  Eventually we get to the point where they accept that education is an enabler of general occupations and that their chosen occupation (footballer, dancer, stripper) may not be their only occupation and that math skills will help them in their future life.

The student that sees work as a favour that deserves special credit any time they do it.
"But I did work" - So what? Still less than everyone else and well below your level of ability.  Doing more work in my class than anyone else's is not an excuse for poor behaviour.  If a student disrupts ten other students but finishes their work, it still is not acceptable.  Maturity is the only thing that reliably fixes this, as they get a goal that they need your subject for.

The student that cannot perform under assessment conditions.
I don't have an answer to this one.  I've had to use teacher judgement on a few of these over the years.  They sit in class and work.  They complete assignment work.  If it's done 1-1 they're fine.  Put the word test on the top and their brain explodes.

The student that sees you as an equal.
I'm not a friend, I'm not a colleague, nor am I an acquaintance.  Students don't have a right to discover whether they should respect you or not.  When I walk into a class, I set the rules.  By rights of a degree and being placed in the role by the school I have earned the respect given.  I decide when these rules are broken.  I may tighten the rules at the request of a class.  The right to negotiate is born through acceptable behaviour, not through misbehaviour.  If I don't do a good job teaching I will lose that respect over the year, but I deserve the benefit of the doubt in the early days.  This is best fixed with a team leader or deputy present.  Explain the problem, probably no-one else has.  You will now become a lone entity in the world they don't treat like everyone else and may help them keep their first job.

The student that avoids work.
This student needs to see the counsellor, toilet, drink fountain, office, nurse, dentist at least once per day.  They are late to class and have not been told that assignments/tests/homework are due.  They are probably the easiest to fix.  Fail them.  Early.  Sit them down and explain to them why they are failing.  Give them catch up time at lunchtimes and additional homework delivered to parents.  Then encourage them as their grades improve.  Don't stop too early, it may take a few years to change a habit of six or seven.  It takes a fair bit of effort.

The student that believes life is fair.
Guess what.. it's not.  If I believe you need more attention than another student to succeed, I'll give it to you.  If I believe that one student will respond to a stern word, and another will not, I won't bother with the latter - I'll try something else.

which leads to...

You're picking on me because I'm .....
It's true, some students I will give a hard time to, because I think they'll come good and make something of themselves.  Others require different strategies and a host of people and money for special programmes before they come good.  Swearing is a favourite - kids from good homes don't need to get the habit, others from difficult home lives need tolerance as it takes time to come around.  "Unconscious" swearing is one thing, being sworn at it another.  Very few homes allow disrespect to parents (it's fewer than many believe), and this respect has to be transferred to teachers and being sworn at crosses the line.  I love the shocked look on their faces when I say my grandfather is darker than them and that they need to consider their words carefully because, like them, I take racial vilification comments very seriously.

The student that tries and fails, every time.
If a student can't pass your course legitimately, then you need to act.  Create a course for them, move them, do something.  It's soul destroying to you and the student to allow this to continue.  Heterogenous setups are a trap for this sort of thing.  One curriculum does not fit all unless you are a highly (and I mean highly) organised and skilled operator.  I have not met that many that do this well.