Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Educating Boys: An Update


Over the next few weeks, I will be writing up some data from the second year of our BOYS EDUCATION trials at Hackham East Schools. I have made some changes to my previous 'Educating Boys' post to show some of our updated data and am reposting it here.

Boys sometimes get a raw deal in our education system. Research shows that boys and girls brains work and learn differently (Gurian, 2001) and that mainstream schooling better suits the learning style of girls.

If we think about our own schools, who are the most disruptive kids in the class? Do more boys or girls get sent to the office for behaviour problems? suspension? exclusion? Boys perform more poorly than girls in ALL curriculum areas with the exception of Maths and Science. Do we just accept that this is the case, or do we need to be critical about our teaching practices and consider that what we are doing just isn't working?

We need to find ways to engage boys in learning by tapping into their dominant learning styles. 'Brain breaks', using movement, giving a real life purpose for learning and, of course, using ICTs are just a few techniques that can be used for this but the one area that is most important when teaching boys is RELATIONSHIP.

In schools, girls learn subjects and boys learn teachers (Lillico, More often than not, girls will still succeed in school if they don't have an ideal relationship with their teacher. For boys, relationship is the key and it takes time and patience to establish this. Building a strong classroom team is a must and success will be unlikely if this doesn't happen. The relationship between the students and the relationship between student and teacher are equally as important. Taking the time to establish your team at the beginning of the school year is vitally important.

I am the teacher of an all boys class in a (co-ed school) and we are about to enter our third year together. I can say that taking the time to establish 'real' relationships with my students has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. We really do operate as a team in our class and the learning has been really exciting. Boys that were labeled as 'bullies' are now showing their ability to nurture and support their classmates. Students who were not achieving are making strong gains in their learning by accepting support and encouragement from their team.

Placing 'team' expectations on the boys and expecting them to be answerable to their team mates has created a DRASTIC drop in behaviours requiring detention and suspension. Building a REAL relationship is worth the time and effort. Don't try and fake it! The boys will know and they will attempt to eat you alive. It isn't always easy, but you need to find something to connect with for each child in your class. If you can pull this off, you will find a whole new world of learning opportunities available in your classroom.

Over the time we have been together as a learning team, we have collected data. We have seen big changes in behaviour data, Literacy data, Maths data and NAPLAN data. The following graphs represent our behaviour tracking over the last three years. In both graphs, the first column of data was collected for each student before they were in the boys class.

Detention Data:
This group of boys were given 67 detentions in 2007 while in various mixed classes. They received 5 detentions in 2008, and 1 detention in 2009.

Suspension Data:
This group of boys were given 5 suspensions in 2007 while in various mixed classes. They have not received any suspensions in the last 2 years.

In 2010, Hackham East will have 5 single sex classes in total (3 boys, 2 girls). I look forward to sharing new data over the coming weeks.

Jarrod Lamshed
Boys Class Teacher
Hackham East Schools


Wm Chamberlain said...

More good stuff, Jarrod. I wonder how well this would work in my building? Interestingly enough, we started a new "program" two years ago to help with discipline and we have had similar results. Do you think that part of the reason for the decline is due to you identifying the problem and working actively on solving it?

John Hadley Strange said...

All this is "foreign" to me, and not just Australia. I have never attended or been in a school for either boys only or girls only. And I have never taught except in college. And I had never been in a College of Education until I came to the University of South Alabama. In fact, my world did not think much of colleges of education! But it is very interesting. And what remarkable success. My guess is its the people - people like you Jarrod - that make the real difference. Maybe the structure helps, but the people have to make any structure work. Nothing is automatic in teaching and learning.

Congratulations. I will follow this story with great interest.