Generally teachers develop a built in radar for off task behaviour by noticing subtle changes in body language (and not so subtle ones - a recent example being a student who collapsed in tears after she found out I'd thrown her plastic drink bottle away). But teaching all girls (and by extension working in a largely all female staff room) has ratcheted up my levels even further.
In Square Peg, Todd Rose tells the story of how he was a high school dropout but became a Harvard professor in educational neuroscience. Diagnosed with ADHD in middle school, he was always in trouble.
From his study of complex systems and neuroscience, he makes four points about learning and why it should be personalised:
Variability is the rule: perceptions and reactions are much more dynamic and diverse than previously thought;More and more, I've noticed how the girls I teach are
Emotions are important: emotional states influence learning;
Context is key: circumstances affect the behavior; and
Feedback loops determine success or failure: small changes making a difference.
Hyper perceptive (they think they notice when I've moved desks and chairs around - in reality I haven't but they don't believe me), and Hyper reactive to anything and everything - nobody misses a trick. Their emotional state is a key to how they approach an English period (last year I had a class those emotional state I could NEVER predict), and The time of day influences behaviour (perversely my Level 2 class are usually much more receptive and better focused after lunch). Noticeably,Small changes made via feedback loops have been key to improved grades (especially this year as we've move to much more personalised learning in our English classes).Personalised learning is common sense!