There’s a buzz in my Business Studies class that is hard to explain but I believe it stems from a situation of mutual respect. Early in the course I introduced a concept of the boardroom discussion (briefly mentioned in an earlier post). I would break the syllabus points to be addressed into the form of a meeting agenda. A student acts as chairperson and they find from the class what they already know. I simply act as an external consultant, or as the phone-a-friend option. This gave the students confidence that they actually already knew a lot about Business Studies. All they had to do was learn to use the language, write in an appropriate format and fill in some gaps, but together they know the bulk of the material.
We also do a fair bit of group work where I try to give them as realistic business scenarios as possible (also mentioned in a previous post). At the moment they are individually working on their business plan assessment tasks but often as a class we brainstorm ideas for each others’ plans. They are actually willing and genuinely interested in helping each other. My mantra is Keep It Real.
To ensure they do cover each of the syllabus points there is an activity on Moodle, one for each syllabus dot-point. These activities can be drawing diagrams, internet research and much more. One of my weaknesses in teaching is the monitoring of work completion. I know my students very well from my interactions with them but sometimes I am caught out when their written responses don’t match what they have demonstrated verbally. Therefore I have been making a concerted effort to check every item uploaded through Moodle and giving some very quick feedback. The most basic feedback is by selecting one of the following Moodle options:
(One of these days I will develop my own words to replace these. For instance, it is only now, and I have been doing this all year, that the students have asked which is better between Satisfactory and Substantial.)
Lately I have been doing this feedback process while they are going on with their work. I have found this very useful to do in class for the benefit of immediacy. For instance, yesterday I noted that Mr R was not only completely up to date (at last), he had moved from being consistently Satisfactory to consistently Substantial. One piece of work was better than the majority of the class. I commented on all this in front of the class, and his chest puffed out with pride. I am trying harder this term, Miss, he said (paraphrased). I’m not sure I can keep it up but I’m giving it a go. I did the happy dance inside.
This is a class of 13 boys and 3 girls. The vast majority of the boys are athletic rather than academic, there is a boy with learning difficulties, a couple of really quiet boys and a boy who was known to have behaviour difficulties (I only see it every now and then). There is a girl who often places a target on her back with her loud and attention-seeking ways but she has a heart of gold. A couple of the boys find it very hard to resist going for that target but we talk about it openly. I might say, Miss L, stop putting that target on your back. Mr R, please resist the temptation to hit that target and they laugh and we move on. One student has been sent an N Award warning letter for not completing an assessment task and another has been sick and away for sporting events regularly and has not completed any work for approximately six weeks. I still need to monitor these situations quite closely.
This class takes a lot of energy. Yesterday, second last period on a Friday afternoon, I didn’t feel I had the energy to give but the buzz enlivened me and in the end I was actually energised by it. It is a colony of working bees that relies less and less on their Queen Bee for discipline and knwledge. The hard yards made in establishing this hive is really paying off. Yay!