Friday, 11 January 2013


Just a short post today...

I spent some time observing my son's school class and it made me wonder about our expectations of children - and the effect we have on children as teachers (and parents).

I observed two lessons with two different teachers and it was like watching two different sets of children.

With one teacher the children were loud, shouting out, doing what they wanted to and so much time was wasted just trying to get the children's attention. It was a shame because the lesson was fun - you could see that the children enjoyed it once they got going - but transitions from one thing to another were slow and noisy every time.

With the next teacher there was quiet - not oppressive quiet, but a respectful quiet. The children took it in turns to talk and they listened to each other AND the teacher. The time was more effective.

The difference - from what I saw - the first teacher was not consequent, if he said that all the children were to do something he did not follow through, one child left the room and returned later - the teacher did not even find out why this child had done so (I took the time later to find out - the child was upset, the teacher was not paying attention to what was going on. The child WAS melodramatic - but I felt that maybe if the child had been seen or heard that the child would be able to learn a new strategy to deal with disappointment instead of storming out of the room and refusing to partake...). It was LOUD CONSTANTLY. It felt chaotic. This was not free play - this was a lesson. This was a time where the children could learn more about teamwork - learn more about how to move furniture around the room together with others so that they learn about ergonomics - how to use the body in a safe way to lift heavy things and not just prove that they can move a bench from one side of the room to another. So much learning was being missed because no-one could hear each other and there was so much distraction that it was hard for anyone to focus...

The second teacher was consequent. She EXPECTED the children to be quiet. She EXPECTED the children to show respect to each other and listen to each other. She EXPECTED the children to be able to focus for more than a few minutes. She LISTENED to the children and told them she was INTERESTED in them. AND THEY LISTENED TO HER IN RETURN. Sure some of them needed the odd reminder. One of them hid for a while in a corner - but when that child came out again the child received positive focus and was SEEN and was LISTENED too.

Believing in the competence of children is important. Believing them capable is important - but we also need to have EXPECTATION that the children will strive to be competent and capable; to show respect to others as well as themselves.

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