Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Boys


I have always been one of those people who has always struggled to understand why there are so many courses and books specifically on how to engage boys in learning. I haven't had any difficulties in doing this so I haven't really understood why others have. But then I didn't actually realise that I am a "boys" teacher. My Principal kindly pointed this out to me last year. Not just boys specifically but that I am gender balanced in the way I treat my students. I can't believe I didn't notice this myself.

So I thought I might today unpack what it is that I do to create balance in my teaching. The first thing that springs to mind is me. Who I am. I play football, I watch sport, and when a student starts talking about Brendan McCullum I mention Nathan McCullum too. I join in all P.E and fitness. I also go to Zumba because I love to dance. I dance everyday in class with my students when we have GoNoodle brain breaks. I am really quite hands on.  I also have no bias towards one area of the curriculum.  Science, maths, writing, reading, P.E., art, technology, drama, music.

When students come to talk to me, I listen. I also believe that boys in particular need reassurance that it is ok to be them. Celia Lashlie put it best in an interview I listened to of her on National Radio - boys actually need a more physical way of relating. Playing tag games, a firm touch on the shoulder, me tackling them at lunchtime and stealing the football off them (always surprises them the first time!) are all ways that I make sure I spend time with the boys allowing them to be boys. I discuss sport, computers, minecraft, science and gross stuff on a regular basis.

With the girls they just want someone to talk to about their lives. Loom bands, brownies, ballet, jazz, cats, animals, books...

MY OH MY I SOUND LIKE I'M STEREOTYPING!

But that's the thing. I don't. I am always breaking down stereotypes in my class. Last year the girls got into coding, the boys wore pink shirts. The thing that is becoming clear is that the RELATIONSHIPS I have with my students are the most important thing in my teaching. I know my learners because I make time to get to know them. I understand them as a learner and perhaps have a good understanding of some of those differences in gender.

So that's me. But I respect that everybody is not me. What do you do in your classroom to ensure gender balance in your teaching? Are you aware if you are showing a bias towards one particular group?