Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Mico Practicing's experiment pays off

Published:Thursday | June 23, 2016 | 6:00 AM
Mico Practicing Primary and Junior High School grade six teacher, Michele Bradshaw, going through a question-and-answer session with her all-boy grade six class on things to do and not to do in high school, during one of her usual sessions on Monday, June 20.
Teacher of Mico Practicing all-boy grade six class, Michele Bradshaw, and English teacher, Roger Johnson, with her GSAT class that did exceptionally well in the 2016 exams.
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IT WAS a decision taken by the administration of the Mico Practising Primary and Junior High School to establish a special all-male class that has contributed to a number of its boys securing top Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) scores.

Even though teacher of the class, Michele Bradshaw, is elated about her boys' success, she recalls the difficult journey she had to undertake to get her group ready for GSAT.

"When I got them, some of them were close to where I wanted them to be, some were not there at all, and others needed a lot of work. I had to come up with creative ways to get the best from them," she told The Gleaner.

These boys, from grade four, were identified as students who, for the most part, were not performing at the school's required academic standards. They transitioned together to grade five and then to grade six.

Of the 28 who did the GSAT, 22 passed for well-sought-after traditional high schools such as Campion College, Wolmer's Boys, St George's College and Kingston College.

The overall top GSAT performer at the school, Taric Myles, attained a 99 per cent average, was also a product of Bradshaw's class.

"In the initial stages, I had to find a way to get them on a level for them to start listening. If you know anything about boys, they are harder to teach than girls because of their (short) attention span and because of their high energy level."

"When you actually stand in front of a class and lecture to a group of girls, you can't do that to the boys because they will give you about five minutes, and after that, they take their own break. You then realise that they are not paying attention anymore. That is their way of telling you, 'I've had enough'," she said.

The strategy she implemented to eventually capture the full attention of the boys was to frequently engage them in conversation about sports and other areas of their interest.

"I can identify with them on certain levels. When I start talking about football, right away, everybody is interested. We can have conversation about any sport. When I stand in front of them and the first word that comes out of my mouth is about the football match last night, everybody is on board and then it's easy transitioning from there. You grab them with what is interesting to them. Once you have them listening to you, it becomes easy," Bradshaw said.

She is convinced that the all-boy setting, along with her skills which helped to fine-tune the boys, played a major role in transforming most of them.

"I think they can identify with each other more. When a boy is sitting beside a girl, he gets distracted and a lot of things come into play. He spends so much time troubling the girl as opposed to in an all-boy setting," Bradshaw said.