The happiness ratio

What’s that theory about the balance between negative and positive comments? Something along the lines of “for every negative comment you need to make 10 positive comments to balance it out”. It’s not that I ever doubted this, but I think this week has really made me understand it – because the ratio is the same for lessons. For every lesson that fails, every class that you walk out of feeling deflated, you need a whole lot of good lessons to balance it out. And I count myself lucky that I have four great classes, but then there’s my 5th class.

This class only has 16 students, which seems amazing until you look a little closer. I have some students completing the Life Skills course (they cover different content to the rest of the class) and many of the other students have very poor literacy levels and diverse learning needs. I always have at least two lessons running at a time – often it’s more like four. Some students in my class are the most renowned for poor behaviour in their year group. Occasionally we have good lessons, usually we struggle through them with lots of complaints and a few arguments and students held back after class, and then there are lessons like yesterday.

We’ve just started probability so this is one of the rare times where we all work as a class on the same topic, and all start at the same level. Looking good so far – I only have to plan one lesson, so I can make it really good. Unfortunately it’s a double lesson (90 minutes) which is hard for these students, but I tried to mix things up with a few different activities and a game in the last 20 minutes.

The lesson completely flopped.

I don’t know if it was the lesson, my management skills or just a bad day for the students, but I think we all left with a headache. Sure some work was completed (how much they truly understood is a different question) but I had students written up for incomplete work, disrespect to me and to their peers, and for storming out of the classroom.

I’m incredibly grateful for my other classes who give me something positive to focus on and who balance out the happiness ratio.


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