How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Getting On With Kids In Secondary School
Book reviews > Getting On With Kids In Secondary School
This is a book written by a very experienced teacher who is now an advanced skills teacher and professional development tutor in a large school in England. He has written a number of other books, though this one has particular pertinence for changing minds. He also successfully bridges academics and practice, using suitable references to other studies alongside a deep understanding born of many years at the chalkface.
There has been a very sad trend in recent years to treat students in schools almost as 'products' that are created through a process of structured lesson plans and worksheets. The role of the teacher in really getting through to the children seems to have been forgotten in this process and it seems assumed that if you follow the lesson plan then this is all that is needed.
As the author shows so clearly in this book, discipline should not be based in fear and the autocratic, mechanical, process-driven teacher is not a great teacher. Instead, the 'democratic' teacher can be far more effective. To some this may seem almost impossible, yet a relationship based in mutual respect will develop a trust whereby teaching, discipline and learning can successfully coexist. It is not magic and Dixie modestly admits that, like all teachers, he has lessons that work well and those that bomb, though it seems likely that his win rate is far higher than many other teachers.
This all has a lot to do with attitude and self-perception and a critical step is to stop seeing misbehaving as a personal attack or affront, but an expression of the difficulties that the student is experiencing. A cheerful attitude is important, though it is more than being 'friendly' as many beginning teachers find to their cost. Understanding how the pupils perceive you can be difficult and changing how you teach can be rather challenging, though Dixie guides you through the process, giving you many strategies and methods to become an even more successful teacher, including for your tutor group.
If you are a beginning teacher the message and methods in this book are very, very important for you. If you are an experienced teacher and especially if you feel you would like to get on better with your students (whilst of course sustaining discipline) then swallowing a little pride and really reading this book can pay dividends.
Even if you are not a teacher, this is a fascinating book and it would not be a big leap to translate the ideas and methods here into areas such as management and leadership.
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