Sunday, August 14, 2011

10 Strategies for Reaching Boys Who Struggle

My goal this year is that I don't have a single boy on an individual behavior plan. "Strange goal", you might be thinking. "Are individual behavior checklists the norm in your class?"

Well, no, last year I did not have any students on individual behavior checklists. The year before, I did have one student who used one as my last resort. However, as I read over the notes about my new students' that I took during conferences with their former third grade teachers, behavior plans could become a norm if something does not change. One third of the boys were on individual behavior plans last year. That fact and the comment,"We spent the year disciplining the boys." left me wondering what was causing the behaviors and what could be done differently that might allow them to experience more success this year.

The book, Teaching Boys Who Struggle in School: Strategies That Turn Underachievers into Successful Learners by Kathleen Palmer Cleveland, provides a lot of  strategies that specifically target the needs of boys. As I prepare for school to start in two weeks, I am going to summarize some of the tools in the book that I find particularly helpful. If you want to know the rationale behind these tools, I highly recommend purchasing the book. There is so much more in it than I can share here.

10 Strategies for Reaching Boys Who Struggle

  1. Build Trusting Relationships
  2. Follow These Guidelines for Classroom Policies 
  3. Understand Boys' Basic Requests for Communicating
  4. Give Effective Directions
  5. Give Informational Feedback
  6. Use Affirming Statements
  7. Teach Pragmatic Communication Skills
  8. Increase Physical Comfort
  9. Apply the Principles of Active Learning
  10. Build Literacy Through Engaging Activities

These tools are ways teachers can help meet the needs of struggling boys in the contexts of school, classroom, relationships and learning experiences. They are meant to support a boy who struggles as a learner, building on his strengths and moving him toward his potential:

  • Replace his negative attitudes about learning with productive perspectives about the role of risk (and even failure) as a necessary and valued part of the learning process.
  • Reconnect him with school, with learning, and with a belief in himself as a competent learner who is capable, valued, and respected.
  • Rebuild life skills and learning skills that lead to academic success and also lay the groundwork for success in life; and
  • Reduce the need to use unproductive and distracting behaviors as a means of self-protection.

From Teaching Boys Who Struggle in School:  Strategies that Turn Underachievers into Successful Learners p.14

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