Imagination, engagement, and the role of gender in school achievement
Whether boys are underachieving in schools – and to what extent – has been a matter of serious debate for decades. The data available at a national level demonstrates a legitimate concern for the achievement levels attained by some boys throughout their school careers.
Teach Rex is a business that has been set up to inspire, motivate and engage children in their learning. Through our own experience in the teaching profession, we are passionate about addressing boys writing and reading within the context of our sessions. We believe that creating, enthusiastic, engaging and purposeful lessons gives children the chance to develop these fundamental skills.
Disengaged teachers breed disengaged pupils. More recently, we had the pleasure of teaching CPD sessions to a team of staff who told us that they get excited when they can plan their teaching schedule without too many constraints. They were motivated by the thought of planning their classroom activities and their anticipation of how the children would react.
We have been lucky enough to teach in similar settings, where teacher engagement breeds pupil engagement. It was what inspired us to begin this journey. We had the pleasure of teaching alongside Lee Parkinson before we delivered these CPD sessions and we learned a lot from his classroom presence. These experiences have confirmed that inspired teaching – delivered with purpose – has positive, measurable results for children of any gender..
CPD at your University?
We have shown that creating purposeful and engaging lessons gives the learners a chance to develop fundamental skills. At Teach Rex, we have put these teaching methods into practice in more than 250 schools across the UK. Our sessions have received hundreds of positive reviews from teachers, parents, and students alike. A common theme is one of formerly reluctant writers and disengaged pupils taking an interest in their learning.
In our morning session, we taught lessons using dinosaurs and dragons – combined with ICT – to students and encouraged them to give feedback. We then provided students with a range of exciting texts and time to plan stimulating, meaningful hooks into learning, with the focus on a specific learning outcome. After all, as exciting as it is to have a 6ft foot dragon crashing through your classroom, without a planned learning outcome, it serves little educational purpose.
After lunch we provided teaching students with iPads and discussed a range of applications that can be utilized in any classroom environment and tailored for any age group. Providing teaching students with new skills that can be taken straight into the classroom was incredibly rewarding and the feedback we received was fabulous.
We have been booked by numerous other universities for the next academic year, so it is important for us to give everybody an overview of what a typical Teach Rex teaching day holds for university groups.
Learning around gender assumptions
The conclusion we have reached from our hundreds of teaching sessions is that there is no real justification for boy-friendly pedagogies. Pedagogies that appeal to and are engaging for young boys have just as much impact on girls. They are characterised by quality teaching, rather than an innate gender bias. As such, these techniques can be applied equally to boys and girls in any classroom environment..
Our emphasis on flexibility and focussed learning outcomes mean a session can be tailored to any child regardless of gender or interests. If an otherwise disengaged boy interested in dancing? Great! We’ll write out a set of dance steps and develop a routine with him. Is a girl in the class more interested in wrestling? Fantastic! We can create the greatest wrestler of all time and write about his or her story.
Engagement is at the heart of our teaching sessions and it has proven to be successful. Engaging and purposeful lessons lead to inspired and motivated children.