Musings from the Plains
That one child...you know the one I mean.
The one who looks lost in your lessons. The one who does not connect with the learning. The one who ends up not getting you that perfect pass rate. The one that you talk about in the staff room. The one whose parents aren't as supportive as you'd like or who is just lazy or has behaviour issues or any one of a 1000 other reasons for not doing well.
That one child is always of interest to me in my lessons. I am always curious about what makes them tick. Why is it that everything I do works for others but not them?
I delve into data, but that often doesn't help at all. I delve into the myriad of experiences offered by my colleagues on dealing with them. I work with parents, experts, differentiate, you name it and I do have success from time to time but not all the time.
So how do I deal with that one child (or more as the case may be)?
I build relationships.
Instead of differentiating more, I try to find their interests. I let them work at their own pace. I use praise a lot and I rarely criticise. I try rewards, cajole them, probably not the most politically correct term to use, groom them for learning.
In one case, I had to learn about basketball just in order to strike a conversation about the sport and in another read up on One Direction. I made a point to walk about at lunchtimes when that child was playing basketball and strike conversations or use 1D references in lessons. I take an interest in them as an individual, I start valuing their opinion. I don't try to force it and try to let it happen organically. I once had to wait more than three quarters of a year to get through to a student. A lot of learning time had been lost but the gains made in the remainder of the course helped them achieve more than what they did in their other subjects by the time I finished with them.
The end result is, that one child will work their socks off for you if they connect with you and chances are remember you and what they learnt from you for the rest of their life.
“There comes a day when you realise turning the page is the best feeling in the world, because you realise there's so much more to the book than the page you were stuck on.”
Zayn (formerly from 1D)