Friday, 30 May 2014

The Average Child

Picture courtesy of The Guardian

There are so many quotes, pictures and kittens posted on Twitter that rarely does one have much of an impact. However this one did the rounds a week or so ago and it has remained with me. It was a picture of this poem (uncredited):

The Average Child by Mike Buscemi

I don’t cause teachers trouble;
My grades have been okay.
I listen in my classes.
I’m in school every day.

My teachers think I’m average;
My parents think so too.
I wish I didn’t know that, though;
There’s lots I’d like to do.

I’d like to build a rocket;
I read a book on how.
Or start a stamp collection…
But no use trying now.

’Cause, since I found I’m average,
I’m smart enough you see
To know there’s nothing special
I should expect of me.

I’m part of that majority,
That hump part of the bell,
Who spends his life unnoticed
In an average kind of hell.

There is an incredible tragedy about this, as it is a stark reminder of too many children we teach. I teach 50 minute lessons, often with 32 children in each; that's 90 seconds each per lesson. Obviously, we don't work like this, but if we ask ourselves questions about the time taken up by the disruptive ones, the really bright (and outspoken) ones, the weak ones, the attention seeking ones... how many seconds do I give to 'the average child'? How many seconds do they get in a school day?

We had some literacy training about 18 months ago and it highlighted 'The Invisible Child'... doesn't particularly struggle, nor do they particularly excel at school, conform and don't receive hardly any sanctions... I think this is the very same student. 

Results wise, for me they are somewhere in between those we are pushing for A/A* grades and those C/D borderline focus groups; a good solid B. Maybe I need to spend more time focusing on these students, I'd hate to think of anyone I teach feeling "unnoticed in their average kind of hell".

How do you focus on the average or invisible child in your classroom?

I have found this very useful for communicating and entering into discussion with students about tasks, difficulties, problems outside the classroom. Quiet students have said, "Sir, I really don't get this", "Could we go through this?" which has been very helpful.

Every Child
Setting a task that allows you to speak to each and every child in a lesson. You can't do this too often and it invariably does get interrupted by someone!

Random Name Pickers
Whatever you use... lolly sticks, PPTs, websites - or me? 'My random pen'.

Thanks to Naimish who shared it for me to see <here>

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