Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Teaching Boys and Girls Separately
Last year, I was so frustrated with the progress of one of my tutoring students. He had no desire to perform in the classroom, but would perform for me. I dug into many books and as always returned to one of my favorites, Why Gender Matters by Dr. Leonard Sax. I had remembered that he wrote another book just about boys called, Boys A Drift.
I read that book so quickly! At first, some of the things he was saying sounding ludacris and he even admitted they sounded that way to him, but as he researched-he found them to be true. One of the topics he covers in depth is Single Gender Schools.
He had some websites listed about Single Gender Schools and I immediately visited them. One of the sites called Single Sex Schools had a directory of schools in each of the 50 states. I looked at my home state of Idaho, only two schools. Only one within driving distance.
I had to go see it! I was super curious. The principal Robin, happened to answer the phone that day when I called and she was so gracious to let me come out and see her school. To say the least-her school is AMAZING! This school was recently highlighted on the front page of the newspaper. They've been at it for 6 years now and they are getting results.
I believe there really is something to the science behind boys and girls learning differently. Does that mean I think everyone should be split up-NO! I think teachers need to be aware of how the sexes learn differently and try to apply some of this knowledge in the classroom, without splitting them up.
How would I do it?
Make sitting optional. Boys (I am sure you have noticed) are not usually sitting still for long hours at school. They need the option to stand while they work, bounce around a little while they work. As long as it's not bothering their neighbor. Robin's school has these tall desks around the room, maybe you could get a few of those.
Teach small group reading lessons with boys making the sure the literature is highly appealing to boys. Boys like books with action, description, and how to books.
Find as many ways as you can to get them active while learning.
Boys also don't hear as well as girls do. When you are giving directions, are you speaking loud enough for them to hear? If you consistently get a lot of "Huh?" from boys, check your volume of your voice and try to keep it even toned (not sing song like). Try not to assume the boy isn't paying attention, they honestly don't hear well!
Discipline a boy by standing side by side with him. They don't like confrontation to their faces. Standing by their side while you are redirecting behavior goes much better than standing in front of them and requiring them to look you the in the eyes.
Teach small group math lessons with girls only. Boys and girls often feel like they are competing. Several girls feel inferior with an assumption they have made that boys are better in math. Simply not true! A girl may blossom in a small group with only other girls around to learn math.
If you are a male teacher, girls are more sensitive to your louder voice. They often will think you are yelling at them because you talk so loud. When talking with a girl, try to soften your voice some. Also know that girls prefer to befriend teachers and ask questions. They are not trying to be annoying, just seeking your approval.
When you are working with a girl and helping her with a problem, smile and look her in the eyes. This encourages her and let's them know that you appreciate that they came to you.
Relaxing techniques before a test is beneficial for a girl whereas for a boy it has no effect. Try walking some of the girls through a breathing exercise before they test. Look at their body language, is their shoulders up by their ears? Are they nervously looking around the room or frozen staring at the board. Help them relax a little.
These are just a few ideas for the classroom. I HIGHLY recommend that you read Dr. Leonard Sax's books about gender issues. They have really helped me with my own boys and tutoring students. What thoughts do you have on Single Gender Classrooms? Are there any close to you? Do you work at one? I would love to hear more.
Why Gender Matters by L. Sax
Boys a Drift by L. Sax
Girls on the Edge by L. Sax
Teaching the Male Brain by A. James
A Gendered Choice by D. Chadwell