Thursday, February 05, 2015

What attitudes towards learning have your students brought with them - what will need to change?

The first week of school has all but finished - tomorrow, Friday is Waitangi Day. Insightful teachers would have used the day to undertake a 'mini' unit on what the day stands for. If not then Monday
would be  good time to 'harvest' their thoughts - and clarify any misconceptions.

A good idea is to use the concept of a treaty to develop  the beginnings of a class treaty on good behaviours by both partners - the students and the teachers. Your ongoing success will depend on developing  respectful relationships.

What are the best behaviours of a successful learners?
What are best behaviours of a  good teacher?

During the first few days - more the first few minutes - your students will be carefully observing you to see what you stand for ( or even what they can getaway with!). It would be a good idea to discuss with the class your stance as a teacher - this will contribute to answering the above questions and will at least clarify your role as a teacher.

The first week or so is a good time to gather 'data' on the attitudes individual students have towards  learning area and any aspect of school you might want to know their views about. I saw this demonstrated by a teacher who went through it with the class as if she was there age. She let them know her strengths and weaknesses at the time and how she has improved on things since then.
Howard Gardner

If this were to be done the list of questions would be best drawn up by the teaching team - and latter repeated to see how things are changing. Students could answer on a five point scale going from 'I love it' to 'don't like it at all'.

You might like them to tell you how they think they learn - get them to consider something they learnt over the holidays. How do you get good at anything?

Attitudes make all the difference in learning but few teachers bother to gather such information.

At the beginning of the year is also a good time to find out what talents , or interests, your
Colour in the amount of your interest
students bring with them to class. Use  Howard Gardners concept of multiple intelligence to see what your students bring with them that you can capitalize on during the year.

Negotiating with your students to develop ownership is always a good idea. It would be interesting to ask your class to list and then share the things they would like to learn about, the things that concern them and the things they wonder about.  Teachers who have done this have found that their students study ideas align well with the suggestions of the curriculum.  Teachers can then include suggestions into the years programme.. Students could be helped by discussing the various strand of the Learning Areas of the New Zealand Curriculum

Another good idea is to , at the beginning of the day to go over the days programme and  just as importunately having a ten minute reflective period  at the end of the day to discuss the three things they achieved during the day. What did you do at school toady is the first questions many parents ask - it is a good idea to ensure students have a positive answer. Great PRO.

Although the holidays have passed it is not too late for your class to list the best things they did during their holidays and to select one to write about - as if they were there. If this is done model the process by sharing your experiences and elaborating the best thing. Sometimes small experiences - like catching a fish - provide the best ideas for powerful writing.

Is such a piece of focused personal writing is done then it could be written out ( after drafting and maybe discussion with you) in their best handwriting. This will give you an idea of the quality of their handwriting. Such writing could become a weekly task - drafted out Monday morning.

An illustration could be added to such a piece of writing. Many students have never been taught the skill of drawing and will need help. One again focus on the important aspect selected for their story - as if they were taking a photograph.

My own experience is that far too many students will arrive in your class thinking first finished is best. By 'slowing the ace of their work', by encouraging observational skills, by teaching them some simple formats to present their work you will slowly develop the id era if a thing is worth doing it is worth doing well.'

'Slowing the pace' gives the students time to think and you time help those in need.

Slowing the pace, learning to observe and trying to beat your own personal best, doing fewer things well will all make your class a more purposeful learning environment.

The above ideas , plus a few more, can be found in this link

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