Positive learning environments

(STUDENTS RAP) # Don’t smoke, it’s not a joke # You’re just wasting more money and you’re going to turn out broke. # Yeah, “Just wasting your money, going to turn out broke.” You’ve got to fit in the timing. That’s good. My name is Mandy Hargreaves. And I’m the Year 7 coordinator at Centralian Middle School. Our school runs from Year 7 to Year 9, and we’re the only government middle school in Alice Springs. And in Year 7 we have approximately 100 kids from really diverse backgrounds. Around about 70-73% Indigenous Australians. We also have several students from overseas and many kids who, for them, English is a second language. My approach to behaviour management is to be firm, fair and consistent. I guess they’re the really key elements. When I’m starting out with a new class, we sit down and I discuss my expectations and how they fit in with the expectations of society, because school is a microcosm of society, so they need to be realistic and meaningful. And I discuss them in a way that kids can relate to. How can I be fair to myself? Don’t procrastinate. Don’t put off doing things. When I’ve clearly established my expectations and how we operate safely in the classroom, I make sure that I enforce those expectations, so, acknowledging when kids are doing the right thing and also gently guiding students and reminding them about our expectations. Today’s lesson is the second in a series of workshops that we’ll be doing with the students across the school. It’s implementing our School Wide Positive Behaviours Policy and specifically looking at the use of rap music to explore our school values of respect, responsibility and fairness. Today what we’re looking at is how to construct the verses, and so we’re using a matrix where they can start to develop ideas around the words for their song lyrics. (STUDENTS RAP) # Make a choice to choose # Responsibility and fairness # It’s tough to pick And don’t be careless # You tell us what you’ve got to do # It’s up to you to make a choice to choose. # MANDY: Hip-hop is an incredibly engaging way of working with the kids. They’re just…they love it. It’s their thing. It’s not my thing, but it’s their thing and they love it, and I respect that. They are really imaginative with their lyrics and I think it empowers them and it helps them have ownership of those values, and they find ways of actually expressing it and giving real meaning to the values. The critical thing with behaviour management is active supervision. You don’t wait until something goes wrong – almost anticipating when they’re going to lose focus and then providing a change of activity, or a positive comment is enough to sometimes keep them on task. (BEAT-BOXES) That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well done. Would you like to hear the track that you did? Ashley dropped it in this morning, so would you like to hear? But if you do that consistently, you win, you know? There’s very, very few situations where you’re not able to turn things around and work with kids. And, you know, we want them to be here. We can’t teach them if they’re not here. That’s the other thing that’s really important, is being a part of the community, and that’s developed over time and years. It’s your connections with their families. We’re in a small community, so those connections are really, really important, not just with the kids, but with their families. You can’t separate behaviour management from academic learning, and it all comes back to the individual. So my chief goal, I guess, is to build self-esteem and confidence in kids, make them feel good about themselves so that they’re better able to learn.

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