September 22, 2012

The art of being positively influential (Behaviour for Learning)

Remember when you were young, you would say the word "orange" or "potato" over and over and over again untill the word lost all meaning? Well since beginning the reading for this course I have found myself repeatedly reading, saying and hearing the following words and phrases: respect, responsibility, enthusiasm, fairness, inclusive, appraochable, professional, open-minded, influential, motivational...the list goes on. Now in no way do I believe any of these words should be ignored or undermined, however I am beginning to look at them as sub-titles for what is actually a phenominal list of things that need to be remembered, respected and used when teaching. I hear the phrase "enthusiasm for my subject" and want to replace it with something more specific, more detailed, such as "using dramatic langauge and gesticulations whilst talking about my subject in the hope of seeing the students' faces light up with interest". Then I realise how long and windy the replacement phrase is and, more so, how it may be relevant to only me. And so I return to the dull original; "enthusiasm". Each of the words and phrases mentioned above mean something different to everyone and I think it is that individual appraoch that students need in order to seperate one teacher from the next and to recognise each teacher's expectations in the classroom.

I think we should dress like we mean business. If we're going to say "shirt tucked in please" to them, then we need to look smart. It goes without saying that a dash of personality is a good thing, but looking smart looks like we take ourselves seriously and in turn, makes the students take us seriously.

To state the obvious - I would expect manners and positive language to be used towards me as a teacher, so pleases and thank yous are important as it shows the students that we appreciate them. I may endeavor to avoid words such as "incorrect" and "wrong" and focus more on uplifting and encouraging words. From the academic reading it is clear that spending more time on the latter is essential for a happy atmosphere. Also, although it is probably not a great idea to call the registers like this: "Yo John iz you in today blud?", I think there is no harm in occasionally mentioning or referring to something that gets their attention such as a TV program (without trying to be cool and failing embarrassingly).

It would be great to feel like I have a presence in the room - my voice to be prominent; my movement to encircle their seating plan and my eyes to be omniscient. I understand this is VERY difficult to master but from what I've read, students are not going to cause too much disruption if they know, that I know, and everyone else knows, that I'm watching. Hopefully this would not only avoid disruption but also make them want to get on with some work! How we use our bodies and our voices should reflect how we want them to behave and make them feel safe, motivated and included (there's those words again).

To conclude, good beahviour and successful learning work hand in hand. If they're not only concentrating but they're actually interested then their behaviour will, surely, reflect this. Let's be good teachers - not 'text-book' teachers who take the words mentioned earlier and do nothing with them - but teachers who find our own specific ways of allowing children to enjoy their lessons and want to behave.

June 2021

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