February 24, 2012 5 Comments
As some of you may remember, I posted a few days ago on my YLs class. I’d like to start by thanking everyone for their responses and encouragement:
Reaching out to students like A and B can be tough, Sadly, this is often because you are the only one prepared to do so. As you say, many parents prefer to wait for them to ‘grow out of it’ and this is often the attitude of other teachers as well
Apart from the fact that my brain wants to study these kids (dyspraxia, gifted, shy, … not that I like labels necessarily but by your descriptions it sounds like they need a bit of extra attention at their own particular level: not easy in a classroom full of peers!)
As for the ‘cloud-boy’. If he’s got strong logical-mathematical intelligence, some jig-saw puzzles might do the job. I make jig-saw puzzles myself and there are lots of options of using them. I guess anything that can make him focus would work. Snap! – may be for practicing voacbulary?
secondly yes, absolutely, the best way to control the uncontrollable is to give them the control. If he is good with numbers, assign him as the “Maths Correspondent” of the class. Get him to do a poster outlining his duties in his post in addition to contact details, i.e; the best time to speak etc. Communication problems in language are mostly related to self confidence issues which explains the stuttering and withdrawal from classroom activities
Unfortunately, it would seem that many parents here are either unwilling to admit or unaware of the fact that their children have special needs. Of course, not when the issue is staring you right in the face, to be blunt about it i.e. serious problems with motor skills or physical disabilities. The question calls for sensitivity with their parents; they don’t want to be seen as having ‘the special kid’. Thankfully, my class contains fewer of these children than others, but Student B is a classic example of this kind of issue. His parents wish to remain unaware of his difficulties.
Behaviour is another difficult topic to broach with parents. Many parents tell our teachers, “you need to shout at them more, then they will behave themselves”. It seems that here, shouting is seen as the way of confronting negative behaviour. Of course, any YLs teacher out there will likely know that shouting lies among the least effective ways of dealing with naughty children. Here’s a conversation I had with a parent concerning her daughter:
“but why does she have a low mark for behaviour, is she a bad child, you say she winds up the boys”
“It’s not that she is badly behaved, but she antagonises the boys when she’s with them, especially Student X”
“Ah yes, Student X, she is always talking about him. You should just shout at her more when she does it”
“Yes, he is often the protagonist too. Listen, I think she may respond more to positive and negative feedback on her behaviour. This is why I have given a low mark for behaviour, hoping that she will take it as an incentive to improve in class, I feel she will respond. It gives her more time to think about what she is doing. I’ve also separated her from Student X to give her a chance to show me this”
I think it’s important to note as well that I don’t blame parents for shouting at their children. After all, I have them for an hour once a week, they have them for a lifetime. The situations are completely different. The mother of the student walked away smiling and happy. Her daughter was a little angel in class yesterday. I told her her after class to go and tell her mother that Dale said she was perfect that day. She did with a beaming smile on her face.
The criteria with which I planned my lessons yesterday arose from my previous reflections, advice from the assistant director where I work, and the comments left by visitors to this blog:
- Include touchy/feeling activities
- Give Student B a more ‘mathsy’ task to see how he responds to it
- Give Student A and student B some one-to-one attention
- Make the best use of the space in the classroom to keep students active for the whole lesson.
- Provide positive or negative feedback on classroom behaviour and language use in class.
Here’s a post plan of the lesson:
1. Started by sitting in a circle on the floor and reveiwed animal vocabulary and the chunks we looked at last lesson’snakes are long, sharks are mean’, using mimes and acting to elicit vocabulary. Praised students and asked them to mime an animal to guess as a reward.
Seated still in a circle on the floor, we counted to 40, each student taking a turn. After reaching 20, I wrote 21 on a student’s back for them to guess the number, to model the next activity. We carried on until reaching 40. After, students drew numbers on backs to guess. I got involved as well.
*At this point I made sure I watched Student B carefully. He was by far the most engaged in the activity.
** Student A was allowed to work with her friend as a reward for being so good. Students sat back in their places and completed the following activity with letters and numbers:
I then gave students the following activity to do to practise saying and recognising the spoken forms of letters and numbers, which they still have difficulty with. During the activity I noticed that Student B’s performance differed quite considerably between the two stages. In the first part of activity he needed to listen to letters and find the corresponding numbers. In the second, he said the letters and and listened to the corresponding numbers to write. He found producing the individual sounds very difficult. I helped him out and congratulated him on doing well. It was fairly evident though that he was frustrated.
After we finished the activity. I took some tap measures and put up a piece of card on the wall and we stood around it. One of the students said “quanto sei alto, Dale?” which is “how tall are you, Dale”, which I’d written, without my name, on the top of the card. Two students stepped forward and measured me. I then asked them to measure each other in groups and say how tall they are.
We lined up to take turns to mark our names and heights on the card on the wall.
In a circle at the end of the lesson, we filled out the behaviour chart. Every student received a yellow smiley face for outstanding behaviour. When I gave feedback, I gave it in L1, then English. I made sure also to have a quiet word on the side with Student B to tell him how impressed I was with him that day.
From success to success
This was one positive lesson. I need to think how I can build on this to make one positive experience for learners into another, make short term successes and small victories in long term development.
How can I go forward?
- Think about implementing a marbles in a jar style behaviour feedback system so that students can get feedback without my reliance on L1, even if it’s very little and rarely.
- Do not go over the top with ‘mathsy’ stuff. It worked once but that’s not to say it will work so well next lesson. Include snippets of it in activities.
- I need to continue with varying the activities in class, lots of moving, standing, sitting, pair-work, individual work, groupwork. Include more games too, with puzzels.
- Give students individual responsibilities and think about creating a rota for this. I could make student B responsible for doing a head count.
- Continue with positive feedback to build confidence in the class. I like how the classroom is becoming ‘our space’ and students are taking ownership of it, we have been really bonding as a group in the past few weeks.
- Find a time-efficient way of letting parents know about their children’s progress. We have very little time together, which can make it difficult.
- Do not focus too much on the special needs of the class. Remember the high-flyers and make sure there’s constant challenge for them too.