Sunday, August 14, 2011

Reaching Boys Who Struggle: Guidelines for Classroom Policies

"Abiding by the policies when one has helped develop them becomes a choice rather than a restriction against which to rebel, and this, in turn, reduces defensiveness...For an underachieving boy, being consulted about the policies not only feels respectful, but it also levels the playing field, so to speak, removing the power structure from the process and making all students views equally valuable and relevant." Kathleen Palmer Cleveland

Guidelines for Classroom Policies
  1. Involve boys in creating the policies.
  2. Limit the number of policies to five or fewer, for younger students one to three. Less than five policies are easier to remember and easier to enforce.
  3. State policies positively. The brain does not read the word "not" in a declarative statement. So a rule "Don't push." emphasizes the word push. Pushing may actually get worse. Better to state what it is that students should do.
  4. Make sure policies are fully understood before enforcing them. Avoid creating policies that are too vague (Be nice. Be respectful) If an underachieving boy is prone to defensiveness and insecurity, the enforcement of a policy he doesn't yet understand may further diminish his sense of self-confidence and belonging.
  5. Be consistent. Be consistent. Be consistent. Consistency helps create the feeling of safety in the classroom.Boys need clear, firm boundaries. If they push on those boundaries, the boundaries have to be even stronger. Some boys push on a boundary because they want to check to see if it is still there, it is actually a way for them to feel safe. Consistency also builds trust. Boys who push the boundaries may see inconsistent reinforcement as a weakness in the teacher. To be consistent, once a policy is set, it needs to stay that way and applied the same to everyone. A sense of security develops when there is no guessing about what will happen when the boundary is pushed.
  6. Enforce policies in a matter-of-fact way. Keep emotions out of it. Appear calm at all times even if you don't feel calm.
  7. Forgive and forget. No grudges allowed.
  8. Acknowledge effort. Notice when boys are trying to make better choices and improve.

From Teaching Boys Who Struggle in School:  Strategies that Turn Underachievers into Successful Learners P.90-100

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

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