Educational Leadership for Boys


In this workshop Joseph explores the leadership that is required in order to motivate boys to achieve high educational standards.


 Joseph will focus on the leadership needs of the four groups of boys that exist in schools.


1.         Well - adjusted and high achieving boys


Schools have a number of boys who are emotionally and socially extremely well- adjusted and who are usually also high achievers.


Many of these boys display leadership qualities and aspirations, and fulfil leadership roles in the school. However, schools often perpetuate narrow and unbalanced stereotypes by restricting the leadership roles of these boys to sport and service, rather than learning, thus perpetuating the pro-sport but anti-learning culture amongst boys. Schools should actively pursue a policy to redress the imbalance of the earlier socialisation experiences of boys, which have convinced many boys that learning is not a masculine activity.  In order to change this culture, these boys need to be included in the core leadership processes within the classrooms and school, and should be engaged as role-models associated with learning. By engaging these boys in the learning and teaching processes, the culture within the classroom and the school makes it much easier for all boys to aspire to high academic standards.  Examples will include: academic leaders; reading tutors; mentors for younger students; mentors for gifted students; guest speakers in junior classes and assemblies.



2.         Coping boys


Schools report that a large number of boys seem to be simply coping with school, and try to get by with the minimum amount of effort possible.


Many of these boys simply lack an emotionally literate leadership style. The leadership they receive is often diffuse, indirect, incoherent, threatening or negative.  These boys respond to a leadership style that is coherent and cohesive, direct, assertive, positive and inspirational.  The workshop will explain the meaning of these concepts, and give examples of best practice from various schools.  These examples will focus on leadership within the classroom and with the school. Examples will include the power of positive team talks within classrooms; the need for cohesive and learning-orientated school events; the importance of a coherent, learning-oriented school environment, which includes visual images of student engaged in learning tasks. It will cover the value of visiting male speakers who model successful learning and achievement, and show how individual teacher and pupil ‘team-talks’ and goal setting can dramatically improve boys’ learning outcomes.







3.         Difficult boys


Schools report that they seem to have a significant number of boys who are more or less difficult to deal with, and who display minor but chronic oppositional behaviour. Most teachers and schools manage these boys reasonably well, but comment how much time and energy is spent in doing so, and how much learning time is lost in the process.


The fundamental reason for the chronic continuation of these boys’ poor behaviour is because the school provides them with a approach to guidance and discipline which is based on excessive emotion and language, threats, and unpredictable or symbolic consequences.


These boys’ behaviour, motivation and learning improve significantly if they experience a positive leadership approach to guidance and discipline that is oriented toward coaching positive norms coupled with immediate consequences. The workshop will show how to set up an interaction between teachers and boys which is based on empathy, calmness and firmness, without the use of excessive emotion or language, but with actual consequences. The workshop will illustrate these concepts with examples of best practices in schools and will demonstrate the effective use of language and personal interaction between teacher and student; how to coach the positive norms; how to impose immediate consequences; and how to improve the teacher- student relationship by putting in place a simple but effective warning system.



4.         Damaged boys


Most schools have a small but highly influential number of damaged boys. These boys might have conduct disorder or severe ADHD, or have profound learning difficulties coupled with a strong sense of hostility towards the school system. Some of these boys have had to survive significant personal and family trauma, and have developed strong personal coping skills, which impresses other boys.  Many of the behaviours and attitudes of these boys are dysfunctional within the school setting, and they can exert a strong and pervasively negative influence on others, especially difficult boys.


Teachers and schools report that the time management requirements of these boys can severely impact on the learning and teaching processes, and that the actual intervention techniques are often ineffectual. Most schools report that the influence of these boys is profound, and that they are key contributors to the underachievement of other boys.


These boys are usually unresponsive to teaching and management strategies, which work with most other boys, including difficult ones. The key reason for this unresponsiveness is that fundamental personal and social developmental processes have not taken place, or have been derailed. This lack of developmental process has failed to generate feelings of trust and belonging, the ability to concentrate, the ability to govern feelings, the ability to feel empathy, and the ability to imagine a future where personal security and fulfilment are possible. The misbehaviour of these boys is often due to the high levels of stress they experience in ordinary classrooms. This stress is partly caused by their inability to cope with the social and emotional complexity of the classroom, as well as the cognitive demands.


However, study of best practices shows that these boys are surprisingly amenable to an approach which combines the following elements: removal from peer pressure and complex social dynamics; the placement into a stable and low stress learning environment; the presence of a adult who generates feelings of trust and belonging; the assignment of appropriate individual learning tasks; the transfer of attachment to the classroom teacher; the gradual re integration of the student into existing classroom; the coaching of fundamental classroom skills and norms;  and the setting up of a non threatening warning system.


The workshop will illustrate the meaning of the above concepts and give examples of best practices in schools




This workshop is relevant to teachers who teach boys and administrators who manage boys, and will be found to be most useful for educational professionals who are thinking of setting up single sex boys classes or schools.