Professional the school and he isn’t falling behind as

                                             Professional
Competency Exam

 

Educational
Theme: Classroom Management

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Professional
Problem: Managing a behaviourally challenging group of students.

The
case began in my teaching practice
school in Odense. The class was P2, who were aged six and seven years old. The
student in focus had a particularly difficult start to school. While he was in
kindergarten, his parents got divorced. This was very difficult for the
student, especially because his dad moved to Germany and his mother decided to stay
in Denmark. Another very challenging problem for him was that he wanted to live
in Germany with his dad and his mother was having some health issues as well. This
resulted in a very turbulent beginning to school life for him. The students in
his class didn’t help his problems either. They were equally disruptive in
class and unbeneficial in rectifying his issues or providing any support. At a
recent parents evening, his mother was concerned to hear that he has been
struggling with his schoolwork and has fallen significantly behind in some
subjects. He is often involved in arguments in the playground and there is also
evidently issues in classroom tasks and he always ends up falling out with
class members because he fails to pay attention and ends up disturbing others.
On his own, he lacks concentration and the teacher has to constantly check on
his progress, repeat the instructions and keep motivating him to complete the
tasks. On one positive note, the student is actually very bright (when he wants
to be). In those rare moments of concentration he is very capable of doing the
school work, which is a relief as it just behavioural issues he has within in
the school and he isn’t falling behind as well. More seriously, this student is
at risk of being expelled and he is aware of the ongoing issue. The mother has
become defensive and is refusing any help from the school and is unwilling to
cooperate. She sits outside the classroom, trying to listen to conversations
that are happening during class and is constantly trying to catch the teachers
/ principle out in emails. This of course is very disruptive to the child. The
student was as well displaying symptoms of ADHD, trouble paying attention,
hyperactivity, very impulsive etc. but as the mother is unwilling to get him
tested. It is very difficult to know if he has any learning difficulties or if
his behaviour is due to family circumstances and personal struggles.            

 

 

Introduction:

I
reason I began looking into the particular theme and problem was that it is a very
relevant issue to many teachers today. One of my biggest concerns, alongside
many of my other classroom peers, was that would we be able to manage a
classroom effectively after we graduate? And how best would we manage the
classroom situation if we had been given a particularly challenging class. In
terms of competencies of this paper, I feel I will be including competence area
2 the most. With competency area 2, the teaching competence – I will be mainly
looking into the inclusive learning environments, how best to keep an equal
level of inclusion with a few particularly disruptive children. Classroom
management, what techniques, tactics etc. are best when dealing with very
disruptive students? As well, I will be looking into how best to cooperate with
collages, how best to utilize resource persons, finally I will be looking into
the impact of the parents within this situation. I will also be slightly
looking into competence area 1: The pupil’s learning and development is about
pupils’ learning and development in social relations in school. As I will be
looking into how I can facilitate pupils learning and development, I will be
seeing how to lead learning processes that consider the development of
individuals. Finally I will be looking into social and communicative
competences as well as conflict management, as this case quite often ended in
conflict. Finally, I will also slightly be looking into competence area 3:
Special education is about substantiated planning, completion and evaluation of
specially arranged teaching of pupils that are in complicated learning
situations. The student in focus does appear to have symptoms of ADHD / ADD
etc. but as no one in the class has been tested for any learning difficulties
so this won’t be my main competency focus. I feel this problem statement is
relevant to the teaching profession as classroom management is a main aspect of
a teacher’s profession. It is a lot more manageable to apply strategies and
learned techniques when you’re teaching a manageable class. But when you’re
thrown into a situation where the class is very unmanageable you have to have
to look outside and see what solutions you can come up with, this is why I feel
like this particular topic is an interesting one to explore as it is a
situation that most teachers, at some point, will have to face. I hope to investigate
and analyse managing a behaviourally challenging group of students in the light
of relevant theory and research results. To see what theories are out there,
which may be of some use in the future as well as researching different ideas
and strategies online and in the library to see what other research has been
done on this problem previously and what recommendations for dealing this
situation are available.   

Theory:

Skinner’s
Classroom Management (1938)

I
chose Skinners theory, as one of the theorists I wish to examine for
behavioural management philosophy. His theory and research on operant
conditioning and reinforcement schedules is one of the main theorists that
teachers learn about for classroom management. His ideas began with the idea that
the operant (behaviour) is said to be reinforced if the consequence increases
the likelihood of the behaviour’s occurrence.

“Operant
conditioning is a learning process through which the strength of a behaviour is
modified by reward or punishment. It is also a procedure that is used to bring
about such learning.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operant_conditioning,
n.d.)

He
also had secondary reinforces included in this theory which reinforces whose
reinforcing properties have been acquired through experience (typically through
second order conditioning)

While
this may seem like an abstract idea, it has become very common amongst
teachers. An example of this would be reward charts, stickers, free play time
etc. Anything really that teachers use as motivation for good behaviour within
the classroom. The student quickly learns that if they behave in a certain way
they will receive the sticker, free play or whatever the teacher gives out for
good behaviour, completion of homework, being friendly etc. They also learn
that if they don’t behave in the conditioned way, they will receive a
punishment e.g. they won’t have the time off or may lose a sticker or again
whatever the teacher uses as punishment. This in theory, does sound like a very
good idea. But as Skinner himself has said, it doesn’t really reinforce self-discipline,
the student becomes relient on the motivation or privileges from the teacher
and or other individuals. This can in turn then cause problems as the student
may become unwilling to cooperate in activities that won’t give them a reward
or they may result in demanding a reward for every action that they do. Which
of course isn’t how the real world works and we are teaching the students to
grow up to be respectful, functioning adults. Although used in moderation and with
careful consideration, it can be useful to the child’s academic and social process.

The
school in which my case was on going, they decided not to use these rewards
systems in the classroom. The teacher believed that the students would become
too focused on the reward and forget about the principle behind the reward
system, she also said that the class was too competitive and any reward system
would cause additional conflict in the class. So she believed it wasn’t worth
doing. Although they did have an overall “smiley” reward system in the school.
The class as a whole, collected smileys from other teachers – especially the
teachers who specifically taught them the additional subjects, such as Danish,
art or P.E if they taught they were behaving well or were working hard etc. the
main classroom teacher wasn’t allowed to give them the similes. They were
rarely given, so it was a big deal if they received one. The whole school had
this system in their class and at the end of the year, the class with the most similes
won a pizza party or something along those lines. This proved quite effective
across the school, this would be a good example of moderate use. As the
students never knew if they were being watched. If a teacher just happened to
see the class being friendly in the playground, they would take that into
consideration, but the students were never really acting nicely or working hard
just to get the smileys as they were so rare.

Another
theorist who I feel was applicable to my case was William Glasser (1925
to 2013) and his choice theory. He developed the term choice theory in 1998.
His theory simply states that all we do is behave. He suggests that almost all
human behaviour is chosen, as in we choose to do whatever behaviour we feel
like. He also states that our choice is decided by genetics to statisfy five
basic needs that he has decided on. These five needs are survival, love /
belonging, power, fun and freedom. In his theory, he believes that the most
important need is love /belonging because he feels being connected with other
people is needed as fundamental basic in satisfying all of the other four
needs. This links into the classroom as this theory shows that the classroom
should be a satisfying place for students. Across the world, his choice theory
has changed the way that many teacher deliver their lessons / instruction. Glasser,
identifies the teacher as the leader of the classroom. He believes they need to
work hard and effectively if they want to have successful students. He says that
their role is have the students understand that by working hard in school /
home is worth it in the long run, i.e. acceptance in college, internships etc.
Which in turn will have a positive and successful influence on their lives.
This is slightly different than Skinners theory where the students immediately
or almost immediately see the reward (extrinsic motivation), this theory is
more based on intrinsic motivation, influenced by the teacher.  This leaves the question then of how does the
teacher achieve this level of motivation for their students. Glasser says, you
can try and create positive relationships with the students. Have the students
become comfortable with you, while of course maintain professional boundaries.
So that they feel they can come to you as the teacher for mentoring and
support. As well, the teacher can create relevant learning experiences that the
students can use to demonstrate their success within your classroom.

How
his theory applies when developing lessons: When a teacher decides to practice
choice theory, they have to design the lesson in a way that satisfies the student’s
needs. Glasser believes that this will allow the students to learn more and
increase their activeness within the classroom while reducing the amount of disruption
due to interest in the lessons. He believed that students are able to connect
and feel a sense of power or freedom and enjoy themselves in a safe learning environment
when teachers design lessons in his way.

1.      Coercion: “Coercion is the practice of forcing another
party to act in an involuntary manner by use of threats or force.” (Wikipedia – Coercion, n.d.) He believes that
this is minimized because it never inspires quality. He believes that students
aren’t designed to behave using reward and punishment systems such as Skinners.
Instead he believes that teacher should build up positive relations with the
students and be an inspiring leader instead.  

2.      Quality: When the teacher focuses on quality, the
expectation increases. They expect mastery or a high level of understanding of
the given concepts and encourage the students to re do their work and continue
trying until they have demonstrated a certain level of competence and high
quality work. While to some teachers this does seem harsh and de – motivating. The
students learn that they are capable of high quality work, they have a deeper
understanding of what they were learning and in turn this will result in better
grades thus in turn earning the benefits that come from higher grades and a
good work ethic.

3.      Self – evaluation: In this choice theory, self-evaluation
is common. Students are provided with the information from the teachers and
then they take ownership of their learning by self-evaluating their own performance.
In turn this promotes independence, free thinking, responsibility and it helps
the student reach their goals while becoming efficient decision makers who take
an active part in their own learning and education.

I
thought this theory was relevant as it shows a theory in contrast to Skinners.
Skinners theory is more based on extrinsic motivation and Glassers theory is
more based on intrinsic motivation. Glassers five basic needs that are
survival, love / belonging, power, fun and freedom seem to fit into my case
fairly well. When I think about the student and what he was doing or in what
manner he was behaving it really does fit into these needs. Especially the love
/ belonging one that Glasser states is the key need. The student in focus was
dealing with a divorce, the teacher had said to me that she believe the student
feels that he is blame for his parents to split up. This ties into love /
belonging need, he may have felt his parents didn’t love him enough to stay
together and this left him with a feeling of where he belonged as he wanted to
be in Germany with his dad but as well he wanted to be in Denmark with his
life, friends and mum. This unsettledness resulted in a lot of turbulent
behaviour stemming from these basic needs. As well with the power, fun and
freedom needs, I saw that a lot of behaviour also came from these needs. Which
I will explain further in my analysis.

I
have looked at Skinners theory from the early twentieth century, Glassers from
the end of the twentieth century and now I will look in Alfie Kohn’s work from
2006. Giving a few different theoretical perspectives from different time
periods over the last 80 years.

Kohn
questions the traditional school model. He doesn’t believe in the reward system
such as Skinners ideas. He believes that everyone feels that there is a “born
leader” inside of them when in fact leaders especially within school systems
are scarce.

He
thinks that using reward systems are ineffective especially in the long run and
are unbeneficial in schools as it doesn’t set up learners to be competent
adults.

He
states that some people become so focused on the reward (extrinsic motivation)
method of education that they forget why they are behaving this way, why that
this behaviour is required the principles behind the behaviour etc. In turn
simply not being effective.

This
reflects back into what my mentor teacher was saying that they would get too
distracted by the reward rather than the meaning or the requirement behind the
reward system. He believes that in an ideal classroom, curiosity and
cooperation are key factors. He says the student’s curiosity is what should
determine what is taught. This somewhat links into Glassers idea that we are
led by 5 key needs and this influences what we learn. What differs here to
Glassers principles of high expectations is that he argues that standards
should be kept very minimal and he is critical of standardized testing. He also
says that a strict curriculum and homework aren’t beneficial to student needs