Congratulations, you’re both the Winners

If you want to create change in others, it's important to recognise how to go about it. I recall a student who, after repeated requests, refused to comply with an instruction. His simple answer was "if you want a different answer, you need to ask a different question". Now while that might seem rude and (for some) unacceptable, at least he was giving his teacher an opportunity to gain an outcome which didn't prolong the confrontation. Is that the solution?

I know some of you will roll your eyes to the ceiling and set your pencil alight with the heat of your fury. But what are these games that we play with our hard-to-teach students at college? Here's a script plus the subliminal message:

Teacher "I knew you'd forget your pen/boots/manners (I'm the winner)."

Student "I didn't forget it, I didn't think I'd need it today (No, you're...

Improving lateness and attendance

For many colleges, lateness and poor attendance among students is an issue.  It's always useful to know how other colleges deal with this.

In recent years, a group of colleges in Bristol took action with hard-core poor attenders.  A working party was created, students were brought together in groups during tutorial time.  After recording their activities, this is what they recommend:

  • Ask students to work out how many days off they have had themselves so far

  • Ask students to work out what these days off calculate as a percentage of attendance

  • In small groups, ask students to think of one thing they could do to feel better about coming to college every day (obviously if 14-16 years old then attendance is compulsory, so the suggestions must be reasonable)

  • Tell students you will take feedback from groups about suggestions

  • Tell students that 17 days away from college every year means that they will probably obtain a whole grade lower...

Motivating your teenager Part 2

In Part 1 your heart should have been warming to the social issues faced by the youth of today.  Here's a follow up, which you might like to think about when you're at home with a teen in your life.

Tips to try at home

Although you may not recognise it, your teenager will look to you for positive responses to their negativity.  Better still, make it easy for your teenager to do the right thing and therefore please you.  Here are some tips.

  • Discuss and draw up a rota for expected household chores.  This removes the arguments around whose turn it is.  It won't do away with the sloth-like pace at which the task is undertaken, nor will the task be completed with a 'song in the heart', but your teenager will know it pleases you when it's done.
  • Allow weekend lie-ins until 11am and start the vacuum cleaning at 10.45am (or...

Motivating your teenager Part 1

Motivating your teenager

Have you wondered what happened to your child, with that lovely beaming smile and helpful disposition long-ago remembered?  If you’ve arrived in Teenage-land with a bump and wonder how you got there, have a look at the facts.

Teenagers get a bad press

If you believe everything you read in the press about teenagers you’d be forgiven for thinking that they are unmanageable and disengaged.

Look at your teenagers and tick off their positive points from the following.  Does your teenager:

  • Eat healthy foods when presented with them
  • Join in with family activities when requested
  • Comply with house rules most of the time
  • Shower and change clothes daily
  • Have friends at school
  • Engage in occasional sport

If you can tick 4 out of the 6 points above, you should be pleased.

Don’t focus on the negatives

On the other hand, you might think that you have lost touch with your teenager and that they are...

Differentiation without extra handouts

I recently came across a really interesting blog: Differentiation without extra handouts.  Sometimes we all find it time consuming to fill the gap before the end of the lesson for learners who have completed their work. 


I came across this site while researching learning activities, and found it so simple to follow the tips I thought I'd share.


The blog is by Joanne Miles (Consulting) and it's really worth a visit as she has some great ideas.


But back to my original point.  Here's a section from an entry in August 2012 entitled "Differentiation without extra handouts: Tips for stretching and challenging learners". 

When you plan your lesson, think up two or three meaty questions that consolidate the learning from different stages of the lesson.  Note them on your lesson plan or on slips of paper to give to students who finish activities early, or who need additional challenge.

If computers are in...

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