This morning I was in Terry Hillier's year 9 maths class at Maryborough, sitting at a table with a group of students discussing their learning. I asked " How are you going?" and one student replied, "good, I've learnt more this year (two months) than all of last year."
"OH, why is that?"
"Well last year we had heaps of teachers, and this year we've just had Mr Hillier."
"What does Mr Hillier do that helps you learn mathematics?"
"He explains things well."
"And we work."
It was obvious that the teacher has a strong positive relationship with his students. We know that explaining things clearly is important, but the comment that grabbed my attention was 'we work'. Students actually like to work.
A few years ago I remember some of my ex students saying that they liked a certain teacher but that he shouldn't be teaching. The reason was that they didn't work and students didn't respect him as a result.
Work doesn't mean busy work but meaningful, organised and challenging work. And you know, the very kids who struggle with reading and writing usually do very little reading and writing. We wound them by being undemanding.