Goalsetting – any fire in your belly?

Like many other people, at the start of the year I always like to set myself some targets, whether it’s to improve my health, give something up (ie wine, which I’m doing this month!), whether it’s to increase my written output, professional goals – you name it! 

But for 10 days now, as I have been driving to the office and thinking about goal-setting, I have been watching a man jogging.   He’s obviously just taken up this activity; he is larger than average size and weight, he hasn’t been going very fast, and to be honest it looks like it is a bit of an ordeal.  Also this man doesn’t wear what I would call special running gear, you know the kind of swaggy lycra neon look (or am I stuck in the 80s...). 

Anyway.... the first time I saw him he looked decidedly out of his comfort...

The Pisa results and the impact on Functional Skills

I listened to a Radio 5 Live programme this week.  It was in response to the Pisa tables which show that the UK fails miserably in achieving a sensible place in Literacy and Numeracy.  Some points of note are that countries with emerging high-ranking achievements are also a) educating their children for 10 - 12 hours per day and b) noticing an alarming increase in suicide rates of students.

During the programme there were many diverse viewpoints from callers as to why/how the UK may not be doing so well and what we might do about it.  Here's a summary:

  • we can only work with the raw material (ie crap students)
  • we have a cluttered curriculum (too much to learn)
  • behaviour is the problem (really?)
  • we should increase student learning hours (suicide rates?)

This got me thinking, especially as none of the above seems to resonate with my experiences.   But one caller to the show was a...

What do I do when my students……

Here are two questions raised at a recent training day, together with suggested solutions from the collective group.
What should I do when:


Students 'blank' the teacher

Remind students of the ground rules around "Respect"

Mirror the behaviour (NB use with caution, may begin the conflict cycle)

Isolate the negative behaviour by organising group work with engaged learners

Ask them a question

Be sympathetic – show that you've noticed they're having a bad day 

Students answer questions when it's not their turn


Nominate questions

Request hands up

If some answers for someone else, they must answer the next 5 questions

Learner answers questions until a correct answer, then move to next learners


Working with learners who have mental ill-health

Mental Ill-Health
There's a lot of stigma attached to mental ill-health, even though it's not as uncommon as you might think.  As a teacher or LSA working with teenagers you could possibly be working with students who have a number of different mental illnesses, such as

  • Depression
  • Addiction
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders

...... to name a few!  I work closely with a mental health expert, and there are some things which she has shared with me, are good to know.

The term ‘mental illness’ is generally used when someone experiences significant changes in their thinking, feelings or behaviour.  The changes need to be bad enough to affect how the person functions or to cause distress to them or to other people.

The terms ‘mental health problem’ and ‘mental disorder’ have a similar meaning.

If a person has always had a problem in their thinking, feeling or behaviour, then this is not usually called mental illness.  It may...

You’re Not My Teacher!

The plight of the LSA

Recently it has really hit home to me about LSAs, and their role in the classroom, during experiences when I've been working in classrooms with teachers as their behaviour guide/coach.

In a recent class, while ostensibly acting as the Number 2, I asked some of the students to listen to what the teacher was saying.  In response, they looked at me with a snarl and one exclaimed

I’m not listening to you, you’re not my teacher!”

On that day and in that lesson, the teacher had really started well, with a strong on-line activity which was highly interactive.  He selected one of the challenging students to manage the activity – in charge of the mouse – and the student jumped at the chance to assume that responsibility.    We got off to a good start.

So far so good…..

The problems began when the lesson began ‘proper’.  I requested that...

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