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Showing posts with the label inspiration

Difficult Student Relationships: The Paper Crane

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Building solid relationships with your students is, hands down, the most important part of teaching. Every single other aspect of teaching is much much easier if you have put some time into this.
But. Every now and then, you will end up with a student that doesn't respond to your respectful but firm boundaries. Sometimes the problem is them, sometimes it's you, and sometimes it's down to forces beyond either of your control. 
I had a student like this. Bilal (name changed, obviously) had a very difficult home life, and acted out in school. I tried the usual, followed the behaviour policy to the letter, and quickly learned that all that was happening is he was getting more and more frustrated with me, the school, the work and life in general. Our teacher/student relationship was extremely poor, and getting worse. The lessons I had with him were frequently disrupted. 
Then I stopped, and thought. The system wasn't working for this kid. Detentions were pointless, and the…

Lesson Idea: Parsing Feelings in English

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This was an emergency exam prep lesson and it ended up being one of my favourites ever. I used it with my middle ability KS4 English group because I had had enough of my students telling me that the [quote] had a 'positive feeling' or made the audience feel 'shocked'. They simply didn't have the vocabulary or confidence to talk about emotion or feelings in a sophisticated way, much less in connection to a text. Now, as I said, I used this for KS4, but it would absolutely work at KS3 -- in fact, the earlier that kids learn to talk about this the better. Having the vocabulary to talk about emotion helps people parse feelings and be mindful about them which is incredibly important for life. 
Here's how it works. Configure your room in such a way that kids can sit in groups of three or four. Put a big piece of paper in the middle of each group. On each paper, write down six major emotions mind-map node style:  Set a timer. For ten minutes, get students to brainstorm…

The Maker-Mindset is a powerful catalyst for learning. Here's how to foster it in your students.

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Most teachers have probably come across occasional student who is a maker. There was a girl in my year 8 English class who made the most adorable jewellery out of tiny, perfect, sculpted baked goods and sweets ('Get thee to Etsy!' I may or may not have cried, 'get thee to Etsy!). There was a boy in my year 10 media class who saved up his pocket money for years to buy a video-capable DSLR camera and was teaching himself to make films. He has an incredible, artistic eye. A girl in year 7 wrote pitch-perfect sci-fi genre prose.

All of these makers have really important traits in common - they are highly motivated, resilient and independent learners (all things we desperately want students to be), but these traits are a product of something deeper and more powerful - the maker-mindset.

The maker-mindset is a way of looking at the world that includes an awareness that you have the capacity, the access to tools and learning and most importantly the right to manipulate your envi…