Thursday, 24 November 2016

Don't you know? The kid's are alright!

Another eye opener today with regards to the teaching within my maths classroom, remarkable what activities work and what doesn't work so well but the main thing is that every experience improves us as lecturers and teachers within this FE minefield!

A fact we always forget when we are delivering to the students within compulsory English and Maths is that they are giving it another go, we've all been deflated over not receiving news we don't want to hear however for some of the students we work with, this may be a fresh start on a subject which they had lost hope in. The amount of students who require extra arrangements for exams is staggering, a lengthy referral process ensures that students who are struggling get seen, assessed and then awarded different arrangements from the examining body.

One of the striking moments within teaching today was helping a problem learner through some maths work, a learner who I thought would not achieve surprised me and completed work of a very good standard, we are getting somewhere! We are making progress towards the goal, what goal that is becomes subjective to the students you know within your classroom and what you view as a step forward in their motivation, achievement and learning. This is what I am going to talk about today, how do we define success within the FE classroom and how do we measure progress from the starting point, we have tunnel vision regarding our learners however I am here to open up the box and make you aware of the little victories you all experience day to day.

When we get our learners at the start of the year, they are apprehensive, don't want to be there, have their own stories and experiences that we are unaware of. The big issue here, it's a guessing game to identify which learners belong in which category. Some of our students are not able to read correctly and struggle with basic life skills in the classroom, some have such terrible experiences within education that the thought of coming along to their functional skills classrooms sends them into a wild frenzy. We often forget this when we have 16 learners and 4 of them become disruptive during a lesson, however we need to be more subjective and student centred to move forward and keep our heads in this ever changing system.

We make it a habit of talking about the general student group. Statements like "the kids are on one today" and "they are all behaving terribly" sometimes becomes defeatist about the role we are in. I want you to practice something, for every negative you say regarding a student's attitude or behaviour, consider the small victories, did a student perform better than expected? Did a student impress you with their knowledge? Did they thank you for the lesson at the end of the day? I always make it a practice to thank my students and tell them to enjoy the rest of their day, a positive message to leave our learners with and show that you do care about each and every one of them.

Dale Carnegie wrote a book called "How to win friends and influence people" in 1936 but a lot of the lessons within it are still prevalent today, especially within the role of education. Dale Carnegie suggests that we should always try to give honest and sincere appreciation, appreciate your students for the effort they made in getting to your classroom and the work they completed. This rule applies to all the staff that you work with in a support capacity, thank your learning support and teaching assistants within your classes as well as the administrators that make your life easier day to day. The more you appreciate the students and staff around you, the easier your life becomes. Richard Branson once said that "employees come first, if you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients", let's remember this in day to day workings with our staff and our students, use this message to inspire us to keep going week in week out, lesson by lesson and day to day.

For every negative, try to find a positive in your classroom