Teacher Tip – Let Your Students Manage Their Long Term Improvements

If your class have a particular bad habit, it can sometimes feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall trying to correct it. When telling your students what you want them to do it can go in one ear and out of the other. How can you effectively stamp out flaws for good?

At the beginning of each session, it can be useful to set two or three daily targets for the group. Alternatively, set one group target and ask each student to share their personal target for the day. Examples from our drama classroom including:

  • projecting
  • watching quietly when it’s someone else’s turn to perform
  • following all instructions on the first request

Allowing the students to choose their own targets can help it to stay at the forefront of their mind. At the end of the session we take five minutes to discuss each of our targets and how well we have achieved them. If there is something that the students and I feel they can do better, we may carry this target over to the following week.

When my group uate they hold up their thumb to reflect how well they believe they achieved the target. A thumb up represents perfection and a thumb down shows that they didn’t achieve their target at all. Most of the time the thumb will be rotated to reflect a point somewhere along this scale.

I will then ask for comments from children with differing opinions. This opens up a discussion and allows the children to consider the point further. As a general note to end the uation I will ask students what they believe they can improve for the following week and what they think they did well. In this way you achieve a balance in self-reflection that helps the students not to feel too negatively about the things they need to improve.

By setting targets and asking students to think about how they did instead of telling them, one creates a greater awareness. When students are able to reflect on what went wrong they can better strategize ways to improve. In this way students can make progress from week to week and see their weaknesses as potential areas for growth.

This technique is very valuable for improving acting abilities and behaviour in the drama classroom but can be adapted to various situations. Let us know if you notice an improvement in your group by using this technique!

Rebecca is the founder and chief executive officer of Silly Fish Learning Ltd. She is a children's playwright with a vast and varied career in education, primarily teaching drama and English.

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