During Term 3, 2017 I noticed one of the relationships with one of my students (student A) in my Year 12 class had shifted. Earlier in the year this student seemed to lack focus, struggled to complete work on time or to the standard he was hoping for and was reluctant to ask for help or support from me with his work. I started to think back on why this shift had happened and I realised his attitude towards me and his work had changed around the time I intervened on a class mate who was a constant distraction (student B).
For most of the year I had thought that student A was the student who was doing the distraction. He was often up and out of his seat walking around the classroom. Giving me the impression he was distracting student B. However, after a conversation with a maths teacher who had taught both of these students before I learnt the opposite was true. Student A liked to walk around or stand up in class for some reason but that was a habit rather than a reluctant attitude towards work. In addition to this new knowledge I realised that Student B rarely completed any work (other than the first assessment). I was also concerned because Student A had been identified as a Priority Leaner because of his lack of credits at level 2 despite his reputation as a good student in previous years.
I realised it was up to me to manage this behavior in my classroom better if I wanted both these students to succeed. The next lesson the off task behavior started and I told these students I had, had enough. If it happened again I would remove one of them….it did and so I took Student A to the deans explaining he was not in trouble I just wanted a quiet place for him to work. I also explained that next time it would be his friend being removed and this would continue to rotate until we could get our work done all together.
The next day I noticed both boys were on their best behavior especially student A choosing to sit elsewhere and Student B did not seem to want to be sent out so they were both able to get on with the learning.
After this not only was student A much more focused in class but he began showing me work and asking for support. This taught me that it is important to provide a learning environment where all students have the opportunity to learn even if is their mates distracting them. I will defiantly intervene much earlier in future situations that are similar – as this not only improved my relationship with the students but also allowed this student to focus on his learning.