Right from the start, one particular student was contributing to the workshop more than most. His observations and suggestions were sensible and well thought out. When it came to the impromptu speaking exercise, he was one of the students who volunteered to come to the front of the room and model the exercise for the rest of the class.
His participation and engagement during the morning session was second to none. He was superb. You might imagine my shock when at lunchtime he asked the teacher in attendance to sign his report card. I hadn’t had a single issue with this student in terms of his engagement, participation or behaviour all morning.
To find he was on report came as a huge surprise.
When it came to the final presentations to peers – one girl had just started speaking when I saw four boys chatting, of which this particular student was one. I interrupted the girl and asked her if she would wait a moment. I then addressed the four boys and asked them, without naming anyone individually, if they could tell me what the last thing the young lady at the front had said. After a moment, my student said “no”.
When I asked ‘Why?’ he said, with great humility, “Because I was talking…” I thanked him for his honesty and the girl continued with her speech. The important thing to note in this is that this student was the only one of the four to accept responsibility – and that in doing so set a great example to his peers.
I think it important to walk into a room without any preconceptions about the students that we are going to meet. Of course it’s important that we are made aware of any barriers to learning, but I don’t think it necessary to be made aware of any minor behaviour issues as this muddies the water. Part of the success of Talk The Talk is that we have no preconceived judgements before the session starts. A positive attitude to all students in the classroom helps them to develop a positive identity and a greater awareness of others.