Effective teaching, learning and relationship building is optimised when students are healthy, feel safe, can regulate their feelings and emotions and are largely worry free. Following our previous posts related to the Psych4Schools Effective Student model this post provides strategies to help students to Believe in their own capabilities and to Adopt school values and rules.
Believes in own capabilities (self-efficacy)
Self-efficacy is an individual’s belief in their ability to successfully complete a task or achieve an outcome, not their actual ability. Students with low self-efficacy tend to focus on negatives in their lives and have poor problem solving skills. They are less willing to take risks and try new things, and often lack self-confidence. Low self-efficacy can have a detrimental impact on motivation to learn, attention span, ability to make friends, and willingness to try new learning. These attributes can ultimately impact negatively on academic performance, reinforcing the student’s lack of belief in their ability.
- Build on strengths, talents, interests and pro-social passions. Help the student develop an area of expertise or an interest. Focus on strengths to help them develop new skills or try something new. Examining the student’s character strengths can be helpful and non-threatening. Students in Year 5 and above can complete the 45 minute VIA strength survey for children or select their key strengths using Strength cards for kids.
- Allocate classroom roles. Assign the student roles that give them a sense of responsibility and meaning in the classroom such as messenger, pet-carer, tutor or buddy to younger students. Alternatively, arrange roles outside the classroom for example, weeding the veggie patch, or reading to a Prep or Kinder class for 10 minutes each day.
- Reward effort rather than the end result, for some tasks. Encourage students to give tasks a go rather than always focusing on getting right answers. This can assist the student to feel they can safely try new or previously threatening tasks, such as public speaking. Give marks for effort, as well as the end result.
Adopts school values
- Explicitly incorporate activities around school values and rules. Classroom values such as tolerance and acceptance, a love of learning, along with respect, harmony, honesty and responsibility help instil a clear set of guiding principles. Values based curriculum ideas, lesson plans, and interactive web-based programs can be accessed at http://www.curriculum.edu.au/values
- Develop a predictable and fair code of conduct. Students may lie or not speak out if they are unsure of consequences. Some may be inclined to disobey rules if they are not treated fairly or worry that the teacher will yell at them. Providing predictable and fair consequences will help students to anticipate the action school staff will take in response to breaking classroom or school rules.
- Reward students for pro-social behaviour. It is important that the school code of conduct provides positive reinforcement as well as consequences that are fair and logical. For example provide positive reinforcement for good behaviour through specific praise, house points, a special lunch with the principal, or additional free time.