The rowdy boys

My Level 1 PEO class have been a challenging bunch this year. Somehow it worked out to be a class completely made up of boys. Rowdy boys. We actually didn’t make it off site for the first half of the year due to some very poor behaviour choices and the need to put student safety first. But I tend to stick with challenges and my stubbornness takes over.

Many a time I would hear a young voice say “Miss, why don’t you just give up” meaning why don’t I just accept that things won’t get any better for this group of boys. I always responded with a simple “not my style”. I went through my entire ‘bag of tricks’ many a time and believed that everything I tried just didn’t work (in my eyes). I almost felt like I couldn’t answer another “How might I…?” or “what if I…?” about this group.

It turned out that all we needed was time to get to the right place. This perseverance on my part and the eventual realisation from the students that I wasn’t going anywhere seemed to be a winning combination for all. Not so long ago I asked them what had made the difference. Their responses were all about all the different strategies I’d tried throughout the first half of the year. Even when I thought they hadn’t had any impact, work was going on behind the scenes. The students believe that they turned a corner mostly due to a change of classroom, seating plans, teacher having faith in them and they started to see learning as valuable and fun.

We have since been on many offsite experiences and I have been consistently impressed as well as surprised by their enthusiasm and willingness learn and to work hard for what they want to achieve. The thing is, they’re still a group of rowdy boys but as they’ve said, they’re “just better”. They even say thank you at the end of every lesson regardless of what has happened. What I’ve taken from the experience of working with this group is that you never really know the full impact of your actions and words, positive and negative, on others. Where would we be if I’d taken their advice in the first place and just given up?

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About Jo Smith

Health & PE teacher and TIC Outdoor Education at Aotea College.
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