CREATE AND MAINTAIN SUPPORTIVE AND SAFE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
4.1: Support student participation
4.2: Manage classroom activities
4.3: Manage challenging behaviour
In relation to standard 4 I believe that:
Every student has the right and need to feel safe (MCEETYA, 2003; 4.4), included (4.1) and supported (4.1) within a relaxed (4.4) and non-threatening learning-friendly environment. It is the duty and challenge of the classroom teacher (Levin, 2006) to create this environment (Rogers, 1995) where each student feels a valued (Boynton, 2003; 4.1) and cooperative member of the classroom community (4.1) and competes not against other students but against themselves (Woolfolk & Margetts, 2003) to be the best they can be (MCEETYA, 2003). To create this environment the teacher needs a detailed behaviour plan (4.2) with meaningful and coherent rewards and consequences (Gottfredson, Gottfredson & Lois, 1993; 4.3) explicit instruction, consistency and fairness of application (4.1). The teacher should negotiate rules, procedures and enter contracts with students (4.2, 4.3, 4.4) and involve parents and carers in the expectations (MCEETYA) of the classroom community to create a foundation for successful learning (4.1). It is when the teacher has confidence in the students to behave in accordance with the classroom community expectations that both the students and teacher can relax, have more time for learning and can concentrate on the best methods of learning (4.2), then engagement and full participation occur (4.1), rather than the micro management of behaviour (4.3). The personality of the teacher and student (Curwin, 1994) are then free to flourish and meaningful dialogues (Freire, 1993; Mayo, 2013) occur in the classroom and most importantly of all, learning becomes a joy.
“Modelling to develop character voices was exceptional.”
7 August 2013
For my internship, I was invited back to the same site as my third practical experience. Amongst other lessons, I was responsible for planning, teaching and assessing a second Science unit to a composite Year 6/7 class of 24 students. Located in a small urban school south of Brisbane, significant cultural diversity existed in the class, with 58% of students speaking languages other than English. Academically, apart from a few high achievers, most students were historically low to medium level achievers with a lack of engagement and behavioural challenges (4.3). As a returning visitor to the class, I had already identified the classroom culture of rivalry and put downs and ridiculing mistakes as a concern (4.1, 4.2, 4.3). As part of my duties I also helped at various times in the adjoining classroom of Year 5/6 students, taking some English lessons and supervising during sports sessions. The class were still transitioning from a change of teacher and in particular a boy with ASD (4.3) and another boy recently returned from suspension with aggressive behavioural tendencies (4.3) were creating strong challenges while the class in general was unsettled and rowdy (4.2).
In Year 6/7 class I supervised groups of between 6-12 students for reading or maths groups. These sessions were conducted either in a small workroom that doubled as a kitchen or at a large desk at the back of the classroom. In the kitchen/workroom, taking lessons awkward as the whiteboard was above a wide kitchen bench and I had to jump up onto the bench to be able to write on the board and there were no ICT facilities. In both locations students were squeezed closely together with behavioural issues resulting.
Classroom management is the most critical factor that influences student learning (Wang, Haertal and Walberg, 1994 cited in Boynton). I had to largely work within the existing classroom management plan so I identified the five factors of classroom management that I could personally influence the most in a short period of time as: positive teacher-student relations, clearly defined acceptable student behaviours, monitoring skills, consequences and content instruction (Boynton, 2005).
I continued to strengthen student relationships when appropriate and shared stories about my family, weekends and interests. I related things I did to their world through my similarly aged son and used humour on occasions. I joined in games at times such as handball at lunchtime, and talked to students I met before school and at lunchtime, e.g. asking them what they were reading and helping them find other books they might like or how their sports day went. I addressed the class about appropriate responses and the rights of students to be able to hear, to listen to learn and that I would enforce rules to ensure those rights were met. I explicitly modelled the behaviour I expected from them and treated them with dignity, requesting quiet conversations with them when I needed to enforce consequences or issue warnings (Rogers, 1995).
To address non-participants (4.1) with a fear of humiliation from other students I introduced a checking for understanding (CFU) strategy of T.A.P.P.L.E. (teach, ask, pause-pair-share, pick a non volunteer, listen, effective feedback). With TAPPLE, any student can be called upon to answer a question if their name is drawn from paddle pop stick collection (4A: see left). I worked on content instruction where I explicitly instructed behaviour in tandem with content. I reiterated frequently while instructing the expectation of answering to the best of your ability and how others should respond if the answerer made a mistake – an opportunity for learning (Wiliam, 2008). Further I gave strong encouragement and frequently reinforced my belief in their abilities.
With defiant students (4.3) I tried to understand how best to help the student feel capable, connected and contributing (Albert 2003; 4B).
With group work I employed a multi faceted strategy. I reset expectations for behaviour I needed (Churchill et al, Rogers) and linked the behaviour of group lessons to be the same standard as normal class lessons with the same consequences and rewards. Students were required to line up and settle before entering. For maths groups in the kitchen/classroom and limited distractions by banning chairs with wheels. I wrote any notes that I could prior to lessons so that my jumping up and down off the counter was limited.
I also linked behavioural and content instruction with the curriculum with students self-assessing their behaviour and how it affected their learning in their reflective learning journals (4D).
The students responded well to me and they all knew that I genuinely cared about them, their learning and their future. I believe they also knew I believed in them. On my last day students thanked me for being an “awesome teacher” and asked me to come back and visit and to be at their graduation ceremony. Behaviour improved so much I was able to trust the students to work in groups and conduct challenging activities such as their rocket launching project (see video) where safety was paramount.
I have spent much time during and since my experiences in these classrooms researching behaviour management plans. I am developing a framework for my future behaviour management plan (4E: work in progress) which can be modified to suit particular circumstances following the Education Queensland Developing a PBS (Positive Behaviour Support) plan document (4G). I will also be sure to display of rules, guidelines, and consequences in the classroom.
Albert, L. (2003). Cooperative discipline. Circle Pines, MN: AGS Publishers.
Charles, M. (2002). Building classroom discipline (7th ed., pp. 67-84). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Boynton, M. (2005). The Educator’s Guide to Preventing and Solving Discipline Problems. Retrieved from http://www.eblib.com
Churchill, R., Ferguson, P., Godinho, S., Johnson, N. F., Keddie, A., Letts, W., … Vick, M. (2011). Teaching: Making a difference. Milton, QLD: John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.
Curwin, R (1994). Teaching at-riskers how to hope. Education Digest. 60(2), 11. Retrieved 15 September from http://ezproxy.usq.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=9410251806&site=ehost-live
De Jong, T. (2005). A framework of principles and best practice for managing student behaviour in the Australian education context. School Psychology International, 26 (3), 353-370. from http://ezproxy.usq.edu.au/login?url=http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0143034305055979.
Department of Education, Training and Employment. (2012). Myths, misunderstandings and milestones in implementing school-wide positive behaviour support. [Video].Retrieved from http://mediasite.eq.edu.au/mediasite/Play
Dreikers, R., Grunwald B.B. & Pepper F.C. (1998). Maintaining sanity in the classroom: Classroom management techniques. Washington: Taylor & Francis.
Fields, B. (2013). Behaviour management: The essentials for pre-service teachers. Toowoomba: University of Southern Queensland.
Fields, B. (2013a). EDC 2100 Managing Supportive Learning Environments: [Course Notes]. Toowoomba: University of Southern Queensland.
Freire, P (1996). Pedagogy of the oppressed. London: Penguin.
Gazley, J. (2006). Communication assertiveness. [videorecording (DVD)]. Scottsdale, Ariz.: AskTheInterneTherapst.com.
Gottfredson, D.C., Gottfredson, G.D., and Lois G. H. (1993). Managing adolescent behaviour: A Multiyear, Multischool Study. American Educational Research Journal. vol. 30, 1: pp. 179-215.Retrieved 15 September, 2014 from http://aer.sagepub.com.ezproxy.usq.edu.au/content/30/1/179.full.pdf+html
Kohn, A. (2008). Progressive Education. Retrieved from http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/progressive.htm on 5 September 2014.
Lee, C. (2007). Resolving Behaviour Problems in your School : A Practical Guide for Teachers and Support Staff. Retrieved from http://www.eblib.com
Levin, J. (2006). Principles of classroom management: A professional decision making model. US: Allyn & Bacon.
Lewis, T. (2014). Myths, misunderstandings and milestones in implementing schoolwide positive behaviour support.
Mayo, P. (2013). Echoes from Freire: A critically engaged pedagogy. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA). (2003). National Safe Schools Framework. Canberra, ACT: Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
Rogers, B. (1995). Behaviour Management: A whole school approach. Sydney: Scholastic.
Wiliam, D. (2008). Changing classroom practice. Educational leadership, 65(4), 36-59.