There are a number of problems that may arise when supporting learning activities which could relate to any one of the following: the learners, the learning activities, the learning resources or the learning environment. In terms of the learners you may find that they are unable to achieve the learning objectives for a variety of reasons. You may experience bad behaviour amongst the group, from one or more of the children. If bad behaviour occurs the adult must intervene immediately to stop it disrupting the lesson and to show the child that it is not acceptable. You should always praise positive behaviours using the appropriate reward system for the school, for example house points or â€ making it matter (MIM)â€TM tokens.
By praising good behaviours other children in the group are often encouraged to then behave well to earn your positive attention. If a particular child continues to disrupt the class then you should follow the schoolâ€TMs behaviour management strategy and as a last resort remove them from the group. A childâ€TMs own self esteem may prevent them from progressing well with an activity if they think from the outset that they will be unable to do it. They will need a lot of encouragement and reassurance to get them motivated and it important to praise them wherever you can to try to improve their self-esteem. It is important not to become tempted to complete the task for them as then they are not taking responsibility for their own learning but instead to use questioning to try and get them to give the task a try or to look at it from a different perspective which may enable them to feel that it is achievable.
Some children may be unable to concentrate on the task, perhaps because of a condition such as Autism or ADHD, or maybe simply because they find the task too difficult and therefore it seems unachievable to them and pointless to try. Conversely the task may be too easy for some children and therefore they may lose interest if they have completed the task very quickly. In this situation you should ensure that there is another activity to keep them engaged while the other children complete the original task. The problem may be that the child has a very short attention span, especially younger children, and they may be finding the task too long. It may then be necessary to stop the task and come back to it later.
The way in which the task was initially designed by the teacher may not be appropriate for the children involved. This may not become apparent until the activity has commenced and therefore it will need to be adapted to make it achievable for the children involved. Where possible you should consult with the class teacher, offering suggestions from what you have observed. However, in some cases this wonâ€TMt be possible and therefore you may need to modify it yourself, for example, changing the level of the task or presenting information in a different way. The learning resources can present problems when supporting learning activities, especially if they are not prepared properly.
It is important to ensure that there is enough equipment for all the children involved, and perhaps a spare set for you to demonstrate with. You should check that the equipment is in good working order otherwise it will affect the participation and enjoyment of the task by the children. It is also important to ensure that you know how the equipment works and that it is suitable for the age and ability of children who will be using it. If another adult has set up the equipment for your task it may be worth doing a check before the task starts to avoid potential problems. The environment in which the children are learning is very important. It must be suitable for the task and for the children involved. If there is not enough space for the children to easily access all the necessary equipment or to move about if required it will diminish the enjoyment of the task. Noise,
external from the group, may be another problem factor. This could be noise within the same room if you are working with a small group in one section of the room or noise from another room or outside. This can be distracting to children and they may lose concentration in the task. It may be necessary to review the work area or to see if there is a way of limiting noise for future sessions.
If you are working with a small group or 1-2-1 with a pupil other children may try to insert themselves into the task because it looks intriguing or it is attractive to them to have more focused attention from an adult. This will not only prevent that child from participating in their task but will also prevent the group, or child, you are working with to focus on theirs. Sometimes the child can be diverted back to their task if you can tell them they will be allowed a chance to participate like this later, otherwise if the distraction is continuous it may be necessary to follow the schoolâ€TMs behavioural management process.