Supply Teaching: Expectations
Managing student expections whilst competing with the pressures of society.
One of the first things I do when I go into a class is ask the teacher who the SEN students are so I can include them positively in the lessons, which certainly helps with behaviour. Classroom management is challenging for all teachers with approximately 30 totally individual students with varying values and beliefs in the class. Students are first socialised by their families but many are socialised by the television. My basic research showed that about 80% of the 5-6 year olds I taught had a TV in their bedrooms where they watched all sorts of programmes into the night. Research by Kids and Media has found a significant relationship between young people and the media.
Teachers try to socialise childrento fit into a society that has embraced relativism, where nothing is certain. Many young people have immense power without any responsibility, seeing themselves as adults despite their immaturity. Children repeat and act out what they see. Many students are not use to boundaries and know nothing about 'delayed gratification' which impact on their expectations. This quote from the Guardianlooks at expectations, "In Hamley's …. the role-playing toys section: the boys' shelf has a doctor's kit and a builder's kit while the girls' shelf had what I can best describe as a Paris Hilton kit, with a tiara, mobile phone and stilettos. If we set our children up with such shallow expectations, can we really be surprised when they follow them?" While teachers are trying to raise the student's expectations, students are surrounded by society's expectations. This self-fulfilling prophecy from society expects children to behave in a particular way.
As a former foster carer I was concerned that children were not expected to be responsible for their actions. The role of parents is to socialise their children and the role of teachers to educate them, but we have children who genuinely believe they know everything. Can you imagine making a new university graduate Prime Minister, while mature experienced people are set aside as knowing 'nothing'. Therefore there might be a mismatch between the expectations of teachers and students. Even in a recent UNICEFs report (September 2011) "the UK came bottom on three out of six dimensions of well-being, and came bottom overall in the league table. Other indices of children's well-being have also found the UK to be doing badly."
Supply teachers must model what they expect from the students as time is short in the classroom, and how they expect to be spoken too. How teachers use their voice in the classroom is very important. Many parents raise the volume and pitch of their voices when they are cross with their child so as a supply teacher, if we drop the tone and volume of our voice this will help us remain in control. This should deter students from speaking to teachers the way they speak to their parents. This forms part of conveying how the supply teacher wants to be treated in the classroom. Unfortunately I have been in schools where rudeness has been excused by staff, thereby disrespecting the supply teacher. If contracted teachers do not respect the supply teacher this attitude may be transferred to the students.
Once the boundaries are in place, teaching can begin and the more enjoyable it is, the easier it is for students to learn. When teachers are excited about what they are teaching there is the opportunity for contagion to occur. When teachers are tired, as mentioned in the previous article, keeping upbeat in the classroom can be difficult. I believe children love learning when teachers love teaching. The desire to learn must become a habit and looked upon as an exciting adventure, despite the challenges faced from society.