Assisting Schools to Setup Advanced Student Performance
Geoff Ayling and a team member would welcome opportunities to spend a year teaching and training teachers in a developing country.
To train teaching staff in the teaching methodology that best serves the needs of their students. To train the staff of a school in the necessary management routines for maintaining learning climate, which need to be coordinated among teachers by a principal.
The major objective is to prepare students to be able to study when they arrive at a university. Most students in middle or high school will not have been taught this. Acquiring the skill to study is the most important task of years 11/ 12. Adolescents are still developing and as a result possess limited self-esteem and internal locus of control. These characteristics are closely linked to academic performance and need to be enhanced. This becomes a student’s greatest strength when he/she commences studying for a degree.
The strategy relies upon enhancing self-esteem (and hence academic performance) through students experiencing success in learning. This follows upon acquiring the skills to study.
The particular course of study is immaterial, whether International Foundation Year (IFY), Cambridge A-Levels, Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) or one of the Australian state education department systems (SACE, WACE, VCE or the HSC of NSW). All may be utilized to enable students to acquire enhanced self-esteem and academic performance.
Detailed tasks in delivering the service:
Geoff Ayling and a member of his team commence with the following program of training seminars for school staff:
- The strategy for enhancing academic performance
- Techniques for enhancing self-esteem
- Teaching students to study as a means of enhancing self-esteem
- The need for formative and summative testing throughout the year
- Monitoring of individual students
- Managing students of different ability levels
- Climate for learning
Teaching is undertaken simultaneously with the management of students’ study in different subjects. It is necessary that students learn that study is a prerequisite skill for university, which needs to be acquired at school by year 12. Without this skill a student’s ability at university can be impaired.
Testing and monitoring of students:
Most systems of education specify testing throughout the study year. However, monitoring of individual student progress at Qianhuang served many purposes. It involved regularly calling in students’ study books, e.g. private study notes and practice problems in physics, chemistry or mathematics. Regular monitoring served most importantly as a habit-forming initiator for students, who had not yet learned to undertake study as a regular task. For the teacher, monitoring of students’ study effectiveness provided the basis for managing students individually.
Managing students of different ability levels:
Students inevitably consist of a range of abilities and as a result, need to be managed differently. The most noticeable feature at Qianhuang was the change in students’ academic performance simultaneously with their self-esteem. A system of student management is most effective when other teachers know how individuals are responding in different subjects. Such a system of management needs to be set up and used to steer individual students through progressive stages of their changing performance. Finally, towards the end of the school year a class of responsible students results, which no longer resembles the noisy, child-like 18 year old children who commenced the trial.
Self-esteem and internal locus of control are enhanced according to the principles espoused by Professor John Shindler of Charter College of Education, California State University at Los Angeles. He is an authority in the behavioural sciences and the author of a book on this subject. Click here for the book
A member of a two-person team will train teachers in practical techniques. Teachers learn that teaching students to have responsibility for their own actions enhances internal locus of control. Teachers are then taught to understand how students acquire a sense of acceptance and belonging, which directly enhances self-esteem. Finally, teachers learn to utilize opportunities for enhancing students’ self-efficacy, which further enhances self-esteem.
Climate for learning:
Perhaps the most subtle form of management practiced by many principals over the past century has been the climate for learning. Climate for learning is now recognized by researchers as being linked to the academic performance of students throughout a school. Students are complicated individuals and bring to school with them many social attitudes, which can be helpful and destructive to learning for those who come into contact. This is the infectious social aspect of a community, which needs to be managed by a principal and staff, who are able to coordinate their efforts to counter and reform unhelpful attitudes. Climate management usually means eradicating negative behaviours.
A principal has however the opportunity, through skilled management of school climate, to engender a healthy approach toward study for many students. That is, he is able to establish positive learning behaviours.
The transformation of a school, from low incidence of high achievers (and high failure rate) to 40-60 percent high achievers (and two percent failure rate), can be completed within the course of a single year 11 or 12 school year. Changes in some students will become noticeable within the first 2-3 months. The seminars for teachers need to commence just before the school year begins and should be completed within this period.
It has been found useful prior to starting the year to commence sending preliminary information and communicating directly with students’ families on the meaning of study. Families should be advised that students can be expected to undergo noticeable changes which will improve their academic performance. Such communication tends to commence a positive approach and willingness among the more child-like students. They may then become more amenable to the responsibilities expected of them toward undertaking tasks involved in study.
On the first day, students are taught the requirements of regular study, most of whom will immediately go in search of exercise books to record their study work.
On teaching the first of a number of topics, with considerable emphasis upon whiteboard notes and drawings, which students record, the first formative test is held in about three weeks. However, students are requested to hand in their study notebooks each week, for the teacher to review, record and write a helpful advisory comment for each student.
Within two weeks sub-groups of students will have become apparent. A need will become clear for a teacher’s attention to bring some onto the study track. Within two weeks most will have responded well to study, but others will have tended toward childish behaviours and try to avoid such work. The latter may persist with this for several months. Finally, when most of their classmates are showing that they can study and receive good marks in both formative and summative tests, the more stubborn will generally succumb to peer pressure and also succeed. After the introductory phase, in which students are initiated into the study habit, the work of teachers for the remainder of the year will be largely concerned with enhancing middle-level and less-able students on the study path.
One by one, most will suddenly begin to reveal an ability to succeed as high achievers. Some students will achieve this in the first month. Others will suddenly experience a transition up to six or more months from commencement. A small number, around 10 percent will for unknown reasons not respond at all. They will not generally fail, but neither will they gain better than middle-level marks in their university entrance examinations.
Teachers who have been trained in this way will form and build their own ideas about how to do things better in the following year.
We have a small team of skilled teacher-trainers and in order to satisfy enquiries from developing countries have a need to recruit and train further members.
Cash (Qian Xuefeng)
Cash trains teachers and is a teacher of physics and mathematics. He is a graduate teacher from Nanjing University
Geoff Ayling and 14 year old daughter Leah – Geoff trains teachers and is a teacher of physics, chemistry, pure and applied mathematics. He holds a higher degree from the University of Tasmania
Li Mei (Li Qiong Guang) and Dodo – Li Mei is a project assistant with experience in Chengdu, Beijing and Changzhou, Jiangsu Province
Michael (Zhou Qi)
Michael trains teachers and is a teacher of mathematics. He is a graduate of University of Technology Sydney and holds a higher degree from University of Western Sydney