CamStar Project: Mind the Gender Gap by Kevin White

The CamSTAR project was not one that initially interested me as I knew that it would involve a lot of hours researching around a project area and presenting to a group of teachers as well as producing an essay about the research carried out. However, after speaking to Sophie and others who had previously been on this programme, I chose to continue with this as an option to complete my disaggregated hours.

By going through the process, I can honestly say that I have gained a great deal of professional knowledge about the students that I teach and their individual needs. This project enabled me to research my chosen area of the “Gender Gap” in subjects involving extended writing at KS5. I completed a lot of background reading, but not as much as I thought I would need to do. This gave me an insight into the area of interest and also gave me ideas on how to conduct my research. The support from Sophie and the CamSTAR team was excellent and I had access to their advice when required throughout the programme.

I found interesting facts about the “Gender Gap” and how boys and girls differ in their learning and expression of work that we see on a daily basis. One example is the fact that boys’ brains go into a “state of rest” during the day. This may be when they do not take in as much information as we would like them to. As well as this, there are differences in brain structure development between the genders.

The main reason for my investigation was to try and find out if there was a “Gender Gap” at Goffs in a number of subjects and if so, why; and how we could try to bridge this gap. It turns out that there are no significant gaps between genders within Goffs; in a number of subjects, that is present nationally. This brought me to the conclusion that we at Goffs must be doing things to prevent this gap from forming or expanding when it is present. A number of excellent practices are currently taking place at Goffs to prevent/minimise such a gap from forming. These include, having male-female pairs in a seating plan, treating male and female students the same, providing all students with the same level of support, carrying out personalised intervention where necessary, and many more.

I would recommend this project to anyone that is keen to develop their own professional practice in the classroom and as this programme can be very personalised.

For more information on CamStar, visit the link below or speak to Sophie Enstone

http://www.camstar.org.uk/

Behaviour for Learning: Embedding Routines – by Luzaan Sparks and Rob King

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Think about routines that you have at home e.g. routine in the morning or getting home from work…how does it make you feel?  How does it make you feel if that routine changes suddenly e.g. you sleep through your alarm clock?

Routines make us feel comfortable, safe and secure. It gives us a sense of purpose and contentment.  For our students, it gives them that sense of security too.  Hence, our classroom routines are important, so we need to establish them at the start of the year and remain consistent throughout the year with them.

What routines should be established?

  • Meet and greet – with you being on time for your lessons, you have the opportunity to interact with your students and converse with them in a positive, calm way whilst doing the usual uniform checks. This is not time to discuss who did and didn’t do homework.
  • Bags, coats and equipment – ensure students have removed coats and placed all equipment (including planners) on desks. Your settler activity is ready to get the students thinking which is followed by your lesson objectives, starter and the register being taken.
  • Seating plan – for all classes and your form should be in place and changed every half-term, at least. Many options are available to you based on gender, ability, behaviour, tasks and group activities.  Carry the seating plan around as you learn the names of students which adds to building relationships with students and allows targeted questioning.
  • Structure of lessons – ensure there is a smooth transition between tasks/activities/mini-plenaries so to avoid ‘dead time’ where a few students will grab the opportunity to play around. Think about how you are going to hand out books/scissors/glue/worksheets/practical equipment as well as collecting it in…could you use students to assist you?
  • Rewards – use of effective praise is important not just the ‘good work/well done’ comment. Comment on how well the student has completed a piece of work and what skill they may have used e.g. resilience. Use the R2/R3 on Classcharts and of course, the phone call home is always a rewarding one for both student and us.
  • Follow ups – if you have said to a student you will ring home or mark homework you must do it otherwise students will lose trust in you and even respect (not following through with a sanction) which could lead to behavioural issues.

Behaviour for Learning Routines also should be used by yourself.  Here are some examples:

  • Short cues e.g. eyes this way, listening thanks
  • Give direction to the behaviour you expect e.g. sit down, thanks
  • Take-up time (reflect on correct choice)
  • Non-verbal cues (tap the desk or eye contact)
  • Instructions you give should be DOs not DONT’s (positive language)
  • Don’t label the entire class or punish an entire class
  • Focus on primary behaviours
  • Task-focussed e.g. what can I help you with? (when students are off-task and chatting)

If students see that you are being consistent with your routines most students will fall into line easily. It becomes second nature to you and as for your students, they become used to your style of teaching along with your routines.  You can then focus on building good relationships with your students and enjoying teaching your lessons – as the students will enjoy being in your lessons.