This essay is about effective teaching and in particular effective behaviour management in primary school classrooms. As a primary teacher myself, through my experience in teaching at primary schools, I noticed that even during the best lessons, with the most experienced and talented teachers, there are incidents of problematic behavior. One of the main issues for new teachers is how to deal with inappropriate behaviour in the classroom. Teachers today must come to the classroom, not only well prepared for the school lesson, but also prepared for how (Westwood, 1998)to make their pupils behave appropriately (Canter, 1992, p. 57).
The classroom is the basic unit of organization of school and educational activity. This area should provide the conditions that will allow convenient and efficient conduct of teaching and the all-round development of the student. Misbehaviour disrupts the process of learning, so it is more effective to prevent misbehave than deal with it.
“The well-managed classroom provides pupils with the sense of security of purpose which enables them to take progress. Classrooms without teacher-managed behaviour tend to be chaotic places where little academic learning take place, where teachers’ stress levels are high and pupils’ insecurities give rise to inappropriate behaviours.” (Visser, 2000, p. 5)
Every classroom becomes a complex of “different” children; different not only in relation to gender but also in terms of socio-cultural levels, values, religious believes, needs, abilities and/or background. The classes can justifiably be described as mixed ability classes. Every child is unique, with its own personality. Children come from different families, so it makes sense that the values â€‹â€‹that each family cultivates may be different. Therefore, a major concern of the teacher is to create an environment that can manage students’ behavior. This process is not easy, but is essential for effective children’s learning (Visser, 2000, p. 19).
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There is a vast amount of literature on effective behaviour management, from which the following essay will focus on the causes, prevention and dealing with inappropriate behaviour. The essay suggests that there is a clear relation between these three areas, which if combined can aid teachers find the causes of misbehaviour, suggested ways of preventing misbehaviour and identify effective approaches in dealing with misbehaving pupils.
Effective teaching as an educational theme is wide and with no specific definition. Depending on the context and situation, effective teaching can be differently defined. For this assignment I chose a definition provided from Westwood who states that effective teaching is for a teacher to provide maximum opportunities for his/her student to attain better results (Westwood, 1998).
However for a teacher to be able to provide these opportunities to the students certain conditions should be met. The behaviour of the students and classroom climate have a vital role in both teaching and learning. Thus, I am introducing the term of effective behaviour management which according to Canter and Canter is “a system that allows you to clarify the behaviour you expect from students and what they can expect from you in return”.
One of the main reasons I chose to deal with this issue is that in my home country, Cyprus, high levels of delinquent behavior in the classroom are present. For new teachers this is the biggest problem in the classroom. As a teacher who wants to work in primary schools, I think it will be very helpful to be trained and read more extensively on the subject. I hope to enrich my own knowledge with innovative and creative ideas in order to manage my classroom more effectively in the future.
Causes of misbehaviour:
There are several reasons for pupils to misbehave in class. Sometimes, children’s misbehaviour is related and affected by the school environment, and sometimes it is related to external factors outside the classroom (Muijs & Reynolds, 2005, p. 85). More specific, on one hand the quality and content of the lesson can make pupils either become bored of the lesson or not be interested in it. Thus, pupils in this situation may provoke misbehaviour and disturb the class. On the other hand literature suggests that there is a direct relationship between the achievement and the behaviour of a pupil in the classroom (ibid, p. 86). This relationship says that low achievement often leads to misbehaving pupils since they do not care about their achievement they are not interested in paying attention to the lesson.
However, there are external reasons causing pupils to misbehave in class. Such reasons can be family and home situations. For example parental divorce, unstable background or even lack of authority and caring at home can result in challenging behaviour in class (ibid, p.85). In addition, the values promoted at home can be different from one home to another; so a pupil since is not told off at home for misbehaving is probably going to repeat it in class. Nevertheless, there is always a number of pupils who seek attention and try to achieve it by misbehaving especially between teens. (ibid, pp. 85-86)
External factors that may cause inappropriate behaviour of students, who are required to be identified in order to help the student are cultural, linguistic and poverty factors (Visser, 2000, p. 20). Every culture has different norms that would be good and useful for the teacher to know, in order to be able to recognize and justify the behavior of the student. Classes today are comprised of students from different countries with different cultures and language. We can justifiably characterize these as multicultural classrooms. As a result for many students the language used at school may be different than the one used at home. Therefore the student because of the limited vocabulary might not be able to understand what he is being asked to do. This can be seen as a reason for pupils’ misbehaviour. Finally, poverty can affect students; this problem can cause lack of motivation and incentives to use the appropriate behavior in the classroom (Visser, 2000, pp. 20-21).
In addition to all the other factors that cause the unwanted behavior, the largest barrier to the successful administration of class, is the negative impression of the teacher; that he/she is not able to manage the disruptive behaviour of students. Teachers feel unable to manage difficult students and consider that they need in most cases the help of a professional that is an expert in each case; In other words, “teachers simply feel powerless” (Canter, 1992, p. 18).
Since a teacher is the one to manage the class, he/she needs to find effective ways to prevent misbehaviour from taking place. Prevention is always more effective than confrontation. Consequently in the case of unwanted behavior, is the best way to make efforts to stop it before it even occurs. Even the best lessons with the most experienced and talented teachers present misbehaviour.
Usually undesirable behavior occurs because the lesson and the methods used by teachers do not meet the needs, interests and abilities of children. If teachers try to make lessons more attractive for their students, then surely it is an effective way to prevent misbehaviour.
Many teachers use in their teaching limited learning styles, especially visual and auditory. This certainly is not attractive for their students who prefer to learn in a different way such as by listening to sounds or movements. Students who do not have the opportunity to be taught in the manner they prefer are more likely to misbehave (Muijs & Reynolds, 2005, p. 86). Different learning styles should be used in teaching in order to cover all the pupils way of learning. Moreover, a teacher should adjust the curriculum to the pupils’ needs and interest and make it more attractive and suitable for them. The best solution is to teach school subject by including the interests of children (ibid, p.87).
Most importantly a teacher should listen to the pupil’s voice. It is very important to involve the pupils in school operation because in this way they believe that the teachers take into account their problems. “Rudduck and Flutter (2003, cited in Muijis & Reynolds, 2005, p.88 ) suggest that pupils can become “pupils leaders”, who, as well as taking responsibility for their own learning, are actively playing a role in the running of their school.” The pupil council is an effective way to involve children in the work of the school.
From the beginning of the school year it is very important and necessary to establish between the teacher and students a good and positive relationship based on respect. Once children feel comfortable and trust their teacher, it is easier to create a climate conducive to effective classroom management.
(quick, easy and effective behaviour management ideas for the classroom)
A good relationship in the classroom is essential in order to say that classroom management is success. If children do not respect and do not like their teacher, then they can not trust him and learn from him. A good tactic to create good relationship between student and teacher is that the teacher has the ability to fall into place with the students and see things from their own perspective. One way to develop good relationships with students is to show interest in the things they love or care about. Children will be thrilled if they see that the course includes things that move their interest. The teacher should also be able to listen to students anytime and help them when they need it. “Essentially, both pupils and teachers often say that what they want in the classroom is mutual respect.”
(behaviour management in the classroom p.64-68)
Humor is an essential element to create good interpersonal relationships. “Cole et al., (1998), Viser (2000), and Porter (2000) point out; having a sense of humor is seen as a vital component in achieving good classroom management.” () It plays a particularly important role in the effective management of the classroom. Humor can make the student to entertain, relax or feel better and gives a pleasant note during the course. Students need and seek the use of humor both by themselves and by their teacher. The teacher who uses jokes or he is expressive in class is always more attractive to children. Everyone, especially children want a course that is more enjoyable and pleasant. (Rogers, 2007, pp. 68-69).
Contracts are one way to engage students in classroom management. Through contracts students gain a voice and they know from the beginning what is expected of them, because they know their rights and responsibilities in the classroom. If a student in the classroom presents problematic behavior that impedes learning, the teacher could sit together and create one behavioral contract. The teacher can explain to students why it is necessary to create such a contract and how it will help him. “Contracts encourage pupils to be active and not passive”. (p.32) (Newell & Jeffery, 2002, pp. 30-34)
A traditional way of preventing misbehaviour in class is setting specific rules and routines to be followed in class. “Rules establish the boundaries of behaviour (Nakamura,2000,) and consistency in their implementation is essential for effective classroom management.” Rules should be few in number and be fully understood by the students so that they can follow them. It is very important for them to be clearly stated and for teachers to clarify exactly what is required of their students. In addition rules must be reasonable in order students follow it.
(qualities of effective teachers)
It is essential to include students in creating the rules, the rewards and the consequences. By involving students in the creation of the rules they feel that they are their own and that is why they try to support them. (Canter, 1992, p. 54). That means that you take into account their thoughts regarding classroom management. It is very helpful to be reminded at rules at regular intervals and to clarify the expectations to the pupils. Rules should be positioned in a place that is easily seen by children in the classroom.
(quick, easy and effective behaviour management ideas for the classroom)
Rules make students more responsible and protect the rights of those who are in the classroom. The rules should be written in a positive way, not negatively. (Rogers, 2002, pp. 30-31).The rules of the classroom must agree with school-wide rules so that children will not confuse them with their observance. (Rogers, 2007, p. 93). When a rule is broken an effective teacher is prepared to address the problem.
In order to prevent misbehaviour in the classroom it is essential and helpful to create range of daily activities. Routines make children feel safe because they know what is expected of them to do. (quick, easy and effective behaviour management ideas for the classroom)
“Classrooms typically require many routines to operate efficiently and effectively”(McLeod et al., 2003). Routines reinforce the behavior of students and make them more responsible for their actions. Examples of routines that can be used in a classroom are how children can enter and exit the classroom, how to sit in their seats or how to share materials. It is very important to teach children from the first days of school routines to create a good learning environment.(handbook of qualities of effective teachers 67-68). Routines regulate the order in which operations will be conducted.(effective classroom management). By using routine during lessons , It leaves more time for learning because time is not wasted on the management class. (Relf, et al., 1998, p. 35)
In the case that prevention is not successful a teacher should be able to deal any kind of misbehaviour in class by managing the whole class effectively. Firstly the teacher should spot misbehaviour at the time and deal with it immediately to prevent maximum disruption of the class and lesson.
The most important thing in dealing with incorrect behavior is not giving it more importance than is required. Teachers should address the issue with as little interruption as possible to the flow of the lesson. One way to do this is to use the technique of overlappingness in which the teacher approaches the student who misbehaved and touches him gently in order to stop the inappropriate behavior, while continuing to teach. Sometimes it is better to ignore some incorrect behavior in order not to cause more consternation in the classroom by interrupting with a reprimand (Muijs & Reynolds, 2005, pp. 88-90).
Students should be aware that if present, improper behavior must bear the consequences of their actions. They know the consequences from the beginning of the school year since these are directly connected with behavioral rules of the class. (Rogers, 2002, p. 31)
The teacher should make clear to students which behavior is unacceptable in the classroom and will be punished. To be effective the consequences must be something that children do not like. For example remain 5 minutes in classroom during the break, or getting time -out of the classroom for a specified period. In any case consequences should not humiliate the student or hurt him physically or psychologically. Consequences have to be differentiated by the misconduct. To be effective the teacher needs to create a discipline hierarchy that represents the order of the consequences applicable to student. The first consequence should be a warning which then gradually becomes more severe when pupils continue disrupt the lesson.
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Some consequences that proved effective by teachers are time out and one minute wait after class. The time out tactic is to move the student who is bothered by his position and go in a specially designated area in the classroom in order to continue his work. The time that he will stay there should be fixed from the beginning and in no case he/she should be isolated from the rest of the class. Another tactic is when the student remains in the classroom for even one minute while the others can go out for break, lunch or game. This approach sounds simple but is very effective because the student feels discomfort because he/she is late leaving the classroom. The teacher has the opportunity to take advantage of this minute and has a discussion with the student for his improper behavior. (Canter, 1992, pp. 79-92)
The behaviorists emphasize that it is particularly important to use rewards and punishment if you want to effectively administer your classroom. Awards strengthen the reappearance of the desirable behavior and punishment weakens undesirable behaviors reappearance.
Rewards and punishment is again a traditional and widely used method to deal with misbehaviour. There are many different kinds of rewards. Praise is the most overused behaviour management tactic in the classroom (Muijs & Reynolds, 2005, pp. 91-92). Teachers also use a lot of different rewards in order to strengthen desirable behavior. Rewards can be stickers, happy faces that children wear or stick in a specially designed table of prizes. It can also be a letter to the parents of the child who showed the right attitude or even sweets.
Apart from the use of rewards it is sometimes necessary to use punishment as behaviour management tool in the classroom. Howsoever punishment should be the last option of the teacher. (Newell & Jeffery, 2002, p. 120).”Punishment is designed to create an avoidance response, in that pupils should avoid behaviours which result in punishment in future.” (Muijs & Reynolds, 2005, p. 93)
Punishment can take many forms as the deduction of points from the table of good behavior, students staying in the classroom for longer or a verbal warning for misconduct. One point that all teachers should be aware of is that the student can associate the punishment with the punisher and not with his delinquent behavior. Consequently the teachers who use punishment often notice that the punishment is associated with their own and not with the behavior that they want to correct. (Muijs & Reynolds, 2005, p. 93).To be effective a punishment should be given immediately after the offending behavior without sentimentality and fairly (Ayers & Gray, 1998, p. 33).
“No one teacher, no matter how skilled he is or how much experience or training she has had, is capable of working successfully with each and every student without support”. (Canter, 1992, p. 239)
Teacher must notify the plan of discipline of the classroom, both to parents of students and to the director of the school. If the parents and director do not know the requirements and rules set by the teacher in the classroom, they will not be able to help in the effective management of the classroom. From the beginning of the school year it is important to give parents and the director a copy of the discipline plan. Since the teacher is primarily responsible for the administration of the class, he must react first and take action when a misbehaviour observed. However, parents should be informed about the behavior of their children, thus if something is judged by the teacher that parents need to know, he must inform them. The help of administrator at the school is very important and effective. Administrators can have a discussion with the student or/and his parents and discuss the problem. Having the principal spend time for you in order to help you with your behaviour, make the situation more seriously and try to be behave better (Canter, 1992, pp. 239-250).
Despite the traditional aforementioned ways of dealing with misbehaviour new innovative ways have been developed and used in schools to tackle this issue. Such creative approaches are aromatherapy, calming corners and the use of peers as a solution.
In aromatherapy, oils are used to treat pain, headaches and anxiety. Nowadays many schools use aromatherapy to help students, especially those who have discipline problems. Parents are saying that their children are calmer after the therapy and they are more able to talk about their problems. (Shelton, n.d., p. 102)
Many pupils need to relax and unwind from the general hustle and bustle of the school during the course of the day. Many schools in order to help pupils find their rest when they need it, created calming corners in the classroom or in specially designed rooms that contain recourses which help children relax. Such items can be books, pictures, music, toys and pillows. (Shelton, n.d., p. 108)
Children who present behavioral problems react more smoothly to the acceptance or rejection from their peers than from their teachers. Ask peers to redirect problem-students attention when they are off-task or to ignore them when they purposely disrupt the class or engage in attention-getting behaviour. (Darrow, n.d.)
In Cyprus, as there is the problem of misbehaviour, teachers try to find ways to prevent it. The curriculum changed and efforts are made so that all courses meet the needs and interests of students. Also students gain voice through the action of the student council. Teachers in their efforts to maintain the desired behavior apply contracts, rules and routines in their classrooms. When asked to address the unwanted behavior they use rewards and punishments or in worst cases, inviting parents of the student at school. The teachers committee of the school decide on the most serious situations.
The main objective of the Cypriot educational system is that every student can use self-control and self-discipline .The Ministry of Education of Cyprus created and sent to all schools a code of conduct. Every school must implement it according to its specific features. The code is explained in the classroom to children in order to know how they are expected to behave. Moreover it is be disclosed to parents and guardians of the pupils. Teachers regularly remind children of the code, to check that they remember and understand it. Each class is meant to differentiate the code at certain points depending on its needs. The code is placed at a place in the classroom which is visible to all children.
When a student exhibits delinquent behavior, the teacher must use punishment and penalties, depending on the behavior. These sanctions may be observed, and reprimanded and in more severe cases, this case is considered by the teachers committee of the school. Where misbehavior is still exists the teaching committee may seek help from an educational psychologist, who will judge the progress of the case. (moec) http://www.moec.gov.cy/dde/peitharhia.html
Effective behaviour management today is considered one of the most important issues facing teachers, newcomers and older. Ones It is a matter dealt with and discussed about too many researchers, hence there is a large literature on the subject. One teacher to be considered effective must be able to monitor his students and maintain an environment in the classroom that promote learning.
In the above essay I tried to analyze the three aspects I personalized considered as more important: the causes, the prevention and the dealing with misbehaviour. There is a direct relationship between the three areas. The reasons that children react offensively can be directly related to the school environment or is completely unrelated to this. Pupils today come to school not only with bags and books, but with many problems from their family. Teachers also contribute to the problem because they believe that they cannot handle some situations and insist that they need specialist help.
The most important step to address this problem is to prevent it. The teacher must adapt the lesson and the curriculum to the interests, needs and different learning styles of his students. It is also very important for teachers to listen to their students and to integrate the management and organization of the school. It is still necessary to develop good relationships between teacher and students, based on respect and understanding. Other practices that can be used for preventing the problem are contracts, rules and routines. The student knows through them from the beginning what is expected of them and is knowledgeable of the consequences.
If prevention is not effective, the teacher must act quickly to address the problem. Depending on the delinquent behavior of the student, the teacher selects and the most suitable penalties. Other traditional ways according to behaviorists contribute to more effective management of the class are rewards and punishment. However it is especially important for teachers to realize that sometimes they need the support of others to address the problem such as the parents and the school management. Apart from the traditional ways that all teachers experience in the classroom, there are new and innovative which are increasingly seems to be used.
The problem of misbehaviour is particularly large in Cyprus. Year after year, however, things seem to get better after teachers are trained regularly. I hope, as a teacher, to develop the necessary skills and to be able to effectively command my class so I can offer the most to my students.
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