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Techniques for dealing with challenging boys

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by CharlesEkin, Nov 9, 2016.

  1. CharlesEkin

    CharlesEkin New commenter


    Much of the responsibility for the issues around the behaviour of challenging boys lies, in my opinion, squarely in the lap of the education system generally and would require gigantic reform. However, there are obviously things that can be done in the classroom that help enormously.

    I am doing research for a charity which provides practical and emotional support for young men who have gone through the Criminal Justice System and we are exploring how to offer effective programmes in schools that would help teachers to support boys in becoming emotionally literate, confident, responsible, caring young men and with a keen sense of purpose. In order to help in this endeavour, I would be really grateful if you could....

    • tell me about your successes. What are the techniques you use that help boys to comply with requests, engage in the task and feel good about themselves?
    • outline the challenges you still face, despite your best efforts. What knowledge or skills would you like to acquire?
    • tell me what practical things you feel need to happen to ensure that these boys are better catered for?
    Thank you

  2. install

    install Star commenter

    The problem is that the Govt charges schools to exclude and if there are too many exclusions then schools get an Ofsted visit.

    You recall the Summer riots a few years ago where police were powerless to step in and stop it happening infront of them for fear of accusations..Poor behaviour goes with the job but teachers are less powerless than the police.

    Sadly some HTs and CEOs just leave the problems to classroom teachers to sort out.....
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
    pepper5 likes this.
  3. sarah_dann1

    sarah_dann1 Occasional commenter TES Behaviour peer advisor

    Hi there,

    'Boys' has been an Ofsted target group for a while now, particularly in English GCSE where they have traditionally done less well than their female peers.

    Although there are many problems with categorising by gender of course, there is (at least in many of the schools I have worked in) a difference in the ways the majority of girls and boys act in and react to the classroom environment.

    Disclaimer: When efforts are made to engage different groups, the outcome is often based around making the activities more varied, more active and more fun. If that's possible, why wouldn't you do that for all students? Just because a girl might typically be more willing and able to engage in a longer, quieter, independent activity, she would still benefit from and enjoy the more active one too. So, for all students mix it up and make it fun wherever you can. The suggestions below I think are important for all students, not just boys or EAL or disengaged students etc.

    I think schools do need support from outside organisations and charities, especially given the current lack of funding. Charlie, it would be interesting to know more about the plans you have and what age ranges you anticipate working with. I think boys/girls behave differently separately and in mixed environments at the various points in their childhood/adolescence.

    My experience is mostly in a traditional classroom setting which requires children to sit, listen, read, write, talk. I imagine you could get some interesting ideas from more practical subjects/alternative enviroments too.

    In terms of successes:
    Variety - short bursts of activity interspersed with short clear instructions
    Time limits - given, displayed, kept to. Youtube has a wealth of funny countdown videos (although be sure to choose one that only does something at the end or students will watch it throughout!)
    Writing tasks broken up and writing frames given to support
    Lots of discussion before approaching challenging tasks
    Praise, often and honestly
    Personal achievable targets
    Group tasks that encourage role taking and responsibilities e.g. leader, scribe, group envoy
    Practical lessons on note taking (help to identify key words/main points in a text/context so students have a starting point)
    Clearly displayed keywords
    Active lessons - desing opportunities to get up and stretch the legs, have to speak to other students
    Some activities with right/wrong answers. Some students find the open ended/subjective nature of some activites difficult/off putting
    "Male oriented" texts and topics - a problematic phrase of course but more could be done in many course syllabi to appeal more to both the current generations and also boys

    Honest discussions about men/women in society, role models, stereotypes, expectations, fears and hopes. I have had some excellent discussions with teenage boys about these issues. Using appropriate stimuli such as current news items, adverts (e.g. comparing cosmetic adverts aimed at men and women) celebrity actions etc. Providing some vocabulary to begin these discussions can help students put feelings into words and the opportunity to participate anonymously can also be useful here.

    Low literacy levels
    Low emotional literacy
    Poor role models either at home or in society
    Expectations on young men (and women)
    Exposure to inappropriate material
    Reality TV shows and their "stars"
    Confusing social messages about masculinity
    Mixed sex environments (although I personally prefer this as I believe it mirrors real life, I think it brings its own challenges for teenagers)
    Fear of failure embedded by the Government's obsession with every student achieving the same
    Devaluation of practical and creative subjects
    Social devaluation of practical trades
    Zero money in schools for any training for teachers/support staff/to engage outside agencies
    Fewer apprenticeships and alternative provision
    Reduced extra curricular programmes in many schools
    Lack of engagement with the community ie getting people in from all walks of life to speak to students
    No 1:1 support or capacity for mentoring (in many schools lack of budget means lack of extra bodies so pastoral care is increasingly neglected)

    It would be interesting to hear from others what they think needs to change to help engage our young people more effectively. I understand the emphasis here is boys particularly but again, I feel these techniques can, and should, be aimed at everyone.
    karldudley likes this.
  4. CharlesEkin

    CharlesEkin New commenter

    Amazingly detailed reply, Sarah. Thank you. I'll look at this in greater depth sometime soon and will get back to you.

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