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very able student who won't or can't write

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by rce500, Oct 25, 2012.

  1. I have a Year 10 girl who reads voraciously, has reading and spelling ages of 18+ and who either can't or won't put pen to paper. Apparently this has been on-going throughout secondary, and her mother claims nothing has been done about it in the last 4 years. Has anyone experienced anything like this?

    The student is very quiet, and gets very frustrated in my lessons. She mutters about wasted paper every time I give them a worksheet, and says things like "what's the point?" a lot. She seems really disaffected. She seems to have no confidence in her writing ability.

    Any ideas or experiences would be gratefully received.
     
  2. I have a Year 10 girl who reads voraciously, has reading and spelling ages of 18+ and who either can't or won't put pen to paper. Apparently this has been on-going throughout secondary, and her mother claims nothing has been done about it in the last 4 years. Has anyone experienced anything like this?

    The student is very quiet, and gets very frustrated in my lessons. She mutters about wasted paper every time I give them a worksheet, and says things like "what's the point?" a lot. She seems really disaffected. She seems to have no confidence in her writing ability.

    Any ideas or experiences would be gratefully received.
     
  3. dts

    dts Occasional commenter

    Well, there's a huge difference between "can't" and "won't" and I'd say you need to find out which applies here before you can do anything to resolve it. I'd be speaking to your Learning Support Department as soon as possible - does this girl have an IEP or any kind of statementing in her background? If so, your SENCo should be able to guide you.

    If there's nothing on file about her, then the best thing is to go through her Head of Year - I doubt this is an issue that's only affecting your subject, and any attempt to put things right will be much more effective if it's coordinated right across her timetable. In short, this doesn't sound like something you can sort without calling in the cavalry!
     
  4. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    I used to work in a secure unit so I've met kids who refuse point blank to do all sorts of things... including writing.

    Firstly do your homework before taking on the kid...

    Mother says ongoing through secondary... so the first thing to do is phone her primary school and find out if she wrote there and what happened in Y6 and Y7 to convince her that the is no point. Don't just look at school... ask if there has been a death in the family or something of that kind. Ask your child protection/ safeguarding person if there are any concerns about his pupil. Miht sound silly but what were hers SATs grades and did they match expectations... did someone 'help' her... a smart kid would be disillusioned by that, why should she write if someone will cheat for her in the end, does that mean her best isn't of any value?

    Then get a little creative. If she doesn't want to physically write will she type? Can you provide a laptop. (ask her ICT teacher first so she can't blag you) If she loves the trees she might prefer to be paperless... ask her to write an essay on recycling and the carbon footprint.

    If she won't type can you set a task and then send her to an office or the library with a laptop and a microphone so she can say what she wants and then have the laptop write it for her (look in word tools: speech recognition)

    Alternately sit with her, on her own, quietly and tell her how useful you find it to communicate through writing because you can take more time to process your thoughts and you can return to them again and again... so, although you accept she does not want to write, you know she understands the value of the written word because she reads it all the time, so can she explain why she feels her writing in particular is pointless. This needs to be totally non confrontational... more of an I'm not giving you a hard time but I need to understand you, I don't think you're taking the mick or trying to be annoying, I think there is a real reason and I need to understand it in order to access the help you need to take your exams next year.
     
  5. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    To be fair I feel quite similar about worksheets... sorry. :)
     
  6. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    I agree that there is a need to get to the bottom of this. Dig a little- ask other teachers if she writes for them. If she's selectively literate, then you just need to crack down on her, because it's just laziness, and indulging it with laptops and soft strategies will simply feed her narcissism. This is serious, because until the exam boards accept e-submissions, she'll be writing her exams, and without practice, even the most able can come a cropper. That said, she might be one of those gifted kids who could sail through a GCSE with her eyes closed.
    TBF, even if she doesn't write much in other subjects, I'd be minded to park the laptops and so on anyway. Unless she has some kind of identifiable writing problem (check with the SENCO- or, indeed her) then she needs to write because it's a requirement of being in a school, if one is able. She can't get into the habit of only doing what she wants to do, because life is not kind to kids who leave school thinking that this will continue to happen after the final school bell. I'd have a good chat with her; I'd do the investigation suggested above, if you have time. But if all else fails, she needs to experience a route of sanctions and rewards appropriate for any other kind of significant non-compliance. And this is misbehaviour that could seriously damage her life chances.
    Good luck
    <em style="color:#1f1f1f;line-height:16px;font-family:Arial,sans-serif;font-size:13px;background-color:#e5f4fb;">Read more from Tom here on his blog, or follow him. His latest book,Teacher, is out now, published by Continuum/ Bloomsbury[/i]
     
  7. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Ask the mother if the girl writes at home. Does she keep a diary or write poetry etc? Does she email friends and communicate on Facebook/twitter?
    I went through agonies at school in English because I had the same English teacher throughout my 5 years at Grammar school and she clearly didn't like me. To this day (I'm 58) I don't know what I did wrong because I was such a quiet, obedient child. I shone at English in primary school and never passed an internal English exam at Grammar school. I was very strong at spelling and at correct grammar etc but my creative writing and literature essays suffered greatly.
    I once spent an entire weekend writing and re-writing an essay on Northanger Abbey, a novel I really enjoyed reading. I was so chuffed with the end result and was beaming when the teacher described it as a very good essay. She then said that I was to thank my older sister for writing it as it clearly wasn't my work!
    I knew how important my O level results would be and had been dreading the exams. Then, as I opened the question paper for the first exam, it dawned on me that the teacher would not be reading my efforts or marking them. I felt incredibly liberated and left the exam hall more than satisfied with my submission. I gained a Grade 1 for English Language. The teacher was so shocked that she wrote to the JMB exam board and requested a re-mark! My grade stood.
     
  8. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    She sounds like she might be really gifted and there may be many reasons why she refuses to write.
    Maybe
    1) She doesn't, really doesn't understand why she has to provide you with evidence she can do something which she finds so easy.
    2) The worksheets are far too easy and she is bored rigid
    3) Her thoughts are too fast for her writing so her handwriting is awful and she misses large chunks out and is fed up of being brought to book about it.
    Whatever she needs to write and her arrogance needs to be tackled. I agree forget the laptop unless her arm is broken. Employers and universities value hard work more than anything.
     
  9. Joydoron

    Joydoron New commenter

    There are hints of Aspergers syndrome in here. Not saying she has autism, but everything you say just could be typical of a teenage girl with Aspergers. They are often excellent at reading and spelling. One of the areas where they have fixations can be reading (thus read voraciously). They often find it really difficult to produce their own original, creative writing. They also often just can't see the point of a specific piece of work (especially the "jumping through hoops" kind of stuff that education requires). They also can have very high levels of frustration because their view of the world is often very different. They can also be extremely quiet.
    Girls with Aspergers often go undetected, so it is definitely a possibility worth considering. Speak to your SENCO and try to find out what her communication is like generally.
    Of course, I may be totally on the wrong track, but I would give it some thought.
     
  10. I don't see quite how a student putting pen to paper therefore loses all individuality, let alone intelligence. I'm sure it would be charming to live in a world in which each person only had to do the work that they deem worthy, but that's certainly not this world, and this girl is not developing a skill that she's very likely to need in the future in some form or other. To what extent does she have the skill? We can't possibly know. And that's actually a problem for the teacher who's trying to ensure that she has developed the skills she should by the end of her education (and that she gets some qualifications along the way, by-the-by).

    Your last sentence is just silly. The problem is not that she will not conform. It's that she will not <u>comply</u>.

    And I'm fascinated by your concept of "interesting"... I work hard, I turn up on time to my job and stay the whole day, I seek to meet the expectations of my colleagues and superiors. I strive to do my marking because I can see beyond my immediate enjoyment and accept that evidence shows quality feedback to be hugely valuable - even though when I do it, it feels boring and pointless.
    By your reckoning, have I had the individualism and intelligence knocked out of me? I'm sure you find me terrible dull.
     

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