Friday, 5 May 2017

Focusing on my priority student

One of the key goals for our school is to find ways to improve the achievement outcomes for our priority students.  A school wide initiative to address the challenge is the formation of a cross-curricula group of subject teachers who meet to identify students who are not achieving success across curriculum areas and discuss and implement intervention strategies that could support them.  We call the initiative our 'PLuGs' groups (Professional Learning Groups) and for this term, we meet fortnightly.

At our first meeting we looked at years 11 and 12 and the students who had not achieved any credits across all of their curriculum areas in term one.  I don't teach year 11's but in my year 12 class there are a few students who had yet to achieve credits in social studies and this was an opportunity to see whether other staff were having the same issues with the same students.  It was interesting to see that yes, they too were having the same problems.

I selected a student (Student A) who had almost 100% attendance and seemed motivated and engaged in class.  In the first term, my class completed an inquiry and over half the class gained an achieved which was positive, but I still struggled with a few kids who weren't getting work done, in or out of class and student A was one of them.

One of the strategies that I used was a class tracking system.  I put the tracking sheet on the board each period and it worked to motivate many of the students to complete tasks set, especially the highly able students and some of the boys who were competitive.

A tracking system that helps to motivate kids to complete tasks set.
I linked their assessments to their names which made it easier for me to access their work and as they completed each task, the task would be shaded green - to gain an achieved in this standard, students needed to complete tasks 1 to 4.

I was also committed to giving as much digital feedback as I could because sometimes there is not enough time during class to give students any feedback on their assessments.  Here is feedback that I'd provided student A on her assessment.
Feedback on student A's assessment.
I noticed that my feedback became less and less about the work and more and more about motivation and encouragement.  I was even checking after one in the morning in the hope that if a student could see that if I'm willing to put in the time and effort to check her work, she would put in the time and effort to complete tasks set.  However, this tactic failed to work.

In class, I would talk to student A and she reassured me that she was working on a task and a number of times, I had sat next to her to see how she would write to try and gain a sense of what the struggle was with her work.  She always started off well but never finished a task.

I knew I needed a more focussed plan.  Once I selected her as my priority student, I created a document to share with her, that asked her to tell a story about herself to me (that she could include as much as she wanted and as little as she liked).  I then wanted to find out what kind of learner she was so I included a few surveys like the ones below that I would sit down with her and guide her through (I have linked the surveys below).  
I wanted to discuss a few goals that we could make together and then ask her to link up work that was due onto a common document as a way to see an overview of what she needed to do and how she needed to do it.

Yesterday, I shared the document with her and spoke to her about how I wanted to help her with achieving success in her school work and she seemed positive and excited, but time will tell.  I have a hunch that it may be a confidence thing but I needed to develop a trusted relationship with her by talking through goals and aspirations so I could get a better sense of what the barriers could be.  My next strategy is to think about ways to help her with her confidence, then look at her learning needs in an attempt to understand how she writes.

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