Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Tough Love

Having spent a substantial part of my teaching career working with students who present with social-emotional issues - such as low self-esteem, disaffection, anxiety, anger etc. - and struggling daily with questions as to why they do what they do and what to do about it, it was a genuine revelation when I was finally introduced to the Nurture Group initiative and Attachment Theory back in 2009. Since then I have undertaken the Nurture Group Network training (which I recommend) and I'm currently awaiting confirmation of accreditation.

As part of work around Nurture Groups in my current setting, I created two presentations (one for senior leadership and one for whole-school) to raise awareness of what the provision is / isn't and a resource booklet for day-to-day use in the Nurture Group itself. I have made these freely available on TES to download. You will see that we have placed our own Nurture Group within the framework of Catholic Salesian mission, and I would advise colleagues to consider their own school's ethos and vision (what binds you together and motivates you) when developing this kind of provision - that way it becomes 'owned' by the school rather than being viewed as a 'pet project'.

SkillsBase Nurture Group @ Thornleigh

I would also add that in our work with students with Specific Learning Difficulties, even if it is primarily a learning issue such as reading we are dealing with, we still have to be aware of the emotional aspects. For example, recent neuro-biological research has shown that the human brain 'shuts down' parts that facilitate learning during periods of anxiety, which will naturally impact on a student's ability to focus, process and comprehend. This was also, interestingly enough, something that Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham touched upon in their pioneering work over 70 years ago around dyslexic-type difficulties - proposing that interventions put in place for students experiencing difficulties in literacy must also be 'emotionally sound' by deliberately ensuring they regularly experience a genuine sense of accomplishment. This is a good reminder that as we engage in the business of learning, we also have to actively engage in the business of building secure attachments with our students - putting down roots - and that this is not wooliness but in fact a hard-headed approach to raising achievement.

No comments: