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Started by Louise DAVY 14 Feb 2014 10:21am () Replies (5)

Hi, Lovely people.

I am hoping some of you may be able to help me. I am super experienced with major behavioural problems and learning difficulties but I have a child in my class who I am stumped over and feel that I need help. This boy is Year 8 and Maori and completely disengaged from learning - he has a troubled background but I see chn like him as a challenge not a problem. He will work if I offer incentive but if I don't he won't. He always asks to leave class early/pack up - is very vocal about his dislike of school. From what I can tell he is academically OK but tests low because of absenteeism (he has come from another school). I don't want to be told there is no point as he is only with me for a year (which is the attitude of some I have discussed this with). He loves sport and PE and is very talented at it but will sometimes even opt out of that if he 'doesn't feel like it'. 

Would love to hear if anyone has any brilliant ideas to help this student!!!!


  • Andrew Penny (View all users posts) 14 Feb 2014 11:12am ()

    Hi Louise

    I would recommend participating in a LEARNZ virtual field trip. Worked wonders for the whole class when I was teaching, but especially reluctant learners. Check out the website http://www.learnz.org.nz/ and feel free to contact me for further information andrew.penny@core-ed.org.



  • Phoebe Fabricius (View all users posts) 14 Feb 2014 11:31am ()

    Hi Louise

    Yes, I've had a few of those.  Every child is different as we know, so I can only offer what worked for me.  I love having one on one with my kids and one thing that gets them, is the realisation that you actually care about them.  Have you tried, in a quiet moment, one on one, asked him, why he hates school so much?  And then go from there.  Get into questions of what inspires him or what is he passonate about?  If he is so full of hate, get that out.  It does take time and asking the right questions will engage him (hopefully) to see the world in a better space.  Why does he love PE and sport so much?  Does he see that as a future?  What's required?  Where do we start?  It is a challenge and it will take time.  Bug me anytime, even if it's to vent, pfabricius@cognition.co.nz

    Cheers Phoebe

  • Lisa Allcott (View all users posts) 14 Feb 2014 1:16pm ()

    Hi Louise,

    I'm guessing he might not be much of a reader but perhaps it's worthwhile finding out who his sporting heroes are and looking for easy biographies of people he admires or books on the sports that he loves. Even the not so easy books might be okay if he is left to browse through them just for enjoyment.

    Something else that's great for non-readers are graphic novels. Time and time again I hear from school librarians about how these fly off the shelves - they have great visual appeal and seem to engage all sorts of readers.

    If you don't have much of this material in your school library, remember that you can order books through National Library's Services to schools. The library staff are very knowledgeable and if you are specific about this student's needs they will try to tailor the loan to suit.

    Regards, Lisa

  • Susan Feron (View all users posts) 14 Feb 2014 6:12pm ()

    Hi Louise,

    Students who have home  reasons for disengagement are so hard.  I agree that ultimately the only thing that works is convincing the child you believe in them and really care.  Kindness and fairness go such a !long way.   Has he shifted schools a lot?  There was research I found 15 years ago that detailed problems that can bring.  Most of which seemed to result in apathy and noncompliance.  Does he have any friends at school?  Can you help him get hooked in with the sporty crowd?  I also that no doing research into sporting issues could be a good way to hook him in.  


    Don't throw away the incentives however.  I go to work partly for the pay.  Remember this kid possibly thinks no one cares and that he is worthless.  Incentives might be the only nice things anyone does for him all day.  I remember being taught the incentive scale.  Going from: not needed, praise, Written praise, time incentives eg: computer time, tangible incentives eg: stickers, and the biggest of all is food. If tangible incentives work you are already on the way to weaning him off them!  Quite frankly if my pay packet disappeared I wouldn't go to school every day.  I still work for incentives.  Incentives are hard on the teacher however.  With a boy I had who needed reinforcement every  30 seconds i used to put a marble in the jar whenever he was doing the right thing.  He could hear the marble clink, I could keep teaching and his focus wasn't interuppted.  The strange thing with that boy was that we didn't chart the marbles or give further rewards for marbles.  I just tipped them out and started again the next day.  

    I hope you see some success soon.  You may well be the person that this boy looks back on and says "that teacher changed my life because they cared."

    Hang in there,


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