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On probation

Since January, one of my goals was to incorporate more strategies into my teaching that were relevant to A Curriculum for Excellence - I wanted to give the children in my class more ownership of their learning. So, with this in mind, I thought I would undertake a circle-time lesson and ask them what things they enjoyed and what changes they wanted, to make their learning more fun and productive.

Before doing this, I remember thinking it was a risky approach, especially with a P7 class that would chance its arm at anything. Anyway, I put these thoughts aside and decided to give it a shot.

During the activity, I received some very interesting and quite entertaining suggestions. One boy requested that if the class completed all its work by lunchtime, could everyone do what they wanted for the afternoon? Another child suggested that we shouldn't start our work until 10am, as most children don't properly wake up until then.

In an attempt to be fair and allow every child his or her view, I endeavoured to take on board their suggestions. Some I was a little uneasy with, and I am sure my headteacher would not be best pleased if I allowed the children to have a morning nap until 10am. However, I did receive numerous ideas which made this a worthwhile activity.

We now have our daily brain-break; the children can have a piece of fruit to re-fuel their "tiring" brains; a "chill-out" area to help control their anger or frustrations, and an occasional 15-minute break to the playground to burn-off any stored-up energy.

As a result of involving the children in their learning to this extent, I can see improved behaviour, more enthusiasm and enhanced motivation in the classroom. By simply listening and valuing what they have to say, I see a dramatic change to their attitude.

I also see how this approach can be applied to many aspects of teaching. By managing the playground fight between Jordan and Braden, no matter how angry I am, both children tell their version of events. Even the worst child can be the innocent one, however much my instincts might tell me otherwise.

OK, time for a brain-break. Let's have some fruit.

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