Monday, 10 October 2011

The leader of the class

Last year for the first time I came across a certain problem in my class.  I found that the boys elected (in their minds) a leader.  Someone they found was cool and then they without question followed this boys behaviour.  It was such a problem I had to devise ways to group the kids so that the girls separated the boys.  It was a massive pain because that is not how I like to work.  I believe in letting children choose.  But when you have a child with "power" it becomes a struggle to get the other children to realize they have their OWN minds.  After a lot of work on this:  Separating kids, getting my prinicipal and parents involved, constantly checking behaviour...I finally got this settled around April and things started to look up.

Fast forward to this year.  The leader has moved on to middle school and all the kids seem to have their own thing going on.  Until this week.  I was gone for one day and they decided to elect another child a leader.  Once again the boys fought to sit near this child, to the point where fights broke out.  This child is "cool" and must be followed.  OY.  Why does this happen???  What is this need to find someone to follow?  Unfortunately the boys also follow the behaviour of the leader, so of course it's a leader who needs reminders on his behaviour.  My Friday was stressful because I now have a little posse of kids following one boy.  I had to move kids to new spots because of arguing.  Argh.

I'm going to keep my eye on this situation this week and see if it falls or increases.  I'm hoping it's a one off fad and they move on.  I can't go through another year of "leader" worship.  I just won't let it happen!

Research Hypothesis

Most of you know I'm working on my masters and right now I'm heavily into figuring out what my research question or hypothesis should be. 

I've done quite a bit of background research on how furniture affects students on-task behaviour.  Studies I've read have said that students are more on-task with ergonomically correct furniture and that there is no difference between rows and group clusters.  Another study concluded that students arranged in a circle formation had more on-task behaviour and more positive on-task discussion than those in rows.  So after doing some background research what I saw was a need to see if student choice factors into this.  If a student is given a choice of where to work rather than me telling them where to work, will they be more on-task?

This is my basic question.  I'm thinking of this as my hypothesis:  students on-task behaviour is greater when given the choice of where to work versus being directed by a teacher where to work.

I was thinking that if I direct the kids in one setting and then in another give them the choice I use the data to see if my hypothesis is correct.  I was also thinking...should I use another class too?  I teach Montessori, perhaps that is too narrrow a sample.  Montessori kids are used to choice.  So if I also sample a regular classroom, it might make my research more applicable to other teachers.


I also want to look at surveying the kids and asking where they like to work and why?  I want to see if there is a difference during Language vs. Math topics.  So I have a lot on my mind right now.  I have to write a paper detailing my question and what my sample might be.  So I need to decide this week on my sample.  I'm also afraid it might be too small.  It will also only apply to classrooms with tables and alternate work spaces.  Classroom with rows of desks and set seating...don't work for my study. 

Thoughts thoughts thoughts.