Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Team Bondage

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Team Bondage

Article excerpt

September is all about team building. These fresh-faced pupils may seem rough around the edges now, but it is possible to transform them into something better. Like simple grains of barley that - with a little love, time and attention to detail - can be turned into the finest oak-aged single-malt whisky, so my seven-year-olds can become greater than the sum of their parts.

Primary-aged children don't always appreciate a whisky analogy, so I try using one within the compass of their experience. "If a fast-food outlet can take bits of mechanically recovered cow, combine them with salt, fat, dehydrated meat powders and chemicals to make the most delicious burgers you've ever tasted, imagine what I can do with you lot?"

"Are you saying we're cows?" asks Angelina. I smile. "What I'm saying is you can be the best class in this school." This will be a challenge to say the least. But just because some children find learning difficult, have behaviour problems and consider sitting in one place for more than 10 seconds physically impossible, it doesn't mean I can't weld them into an effective group of learners.

I slip into motivational speaker mode. "Each one of you has a special talent, and by helping you to use that talent I will turn this class into a team that will be the Barcelona of Arbourthorne Primary School." I pause to let the message sink in, but it remains buoyant. "OK, perhaps somebody can tell me how I will help you become a better team."

I've already put chairs in a circle and written our learning objective in bold letters on the whiteboard. …

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