TEACHERS CREATE AND MAINTAIN SAFE AND CHALLENGING LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS THROUGH THE USE OF CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT SKILLS
I HAVE…developed positive classroom environments through a number of strategies. Firstly, I value students and show this by learning their names, inquiring about and using their interests to inform my teaching practice and providing positive feedback to encourage learning and risk-taking in the classroom. I have written a reflection on these and other personal strategies to build rapport with students and establish a positive classroom environment. Secondly, I design lessons to engage students in purposeful learning experiences which promotes full participation of students and contributes to meeting Syllabus Outcomes. This is a significant aspect of my classroom management strategy, which I have included as a statement for evidence, as well as an outline of Bill Roger’s Positive Behaviour Leadership model of management and discipline, which I model my teaching on. I have had experience in managing student behaviour in numerous classroom situations, including practicums, observation in a behaviour-management S.S.P, Scripture Teaching in more than one school, and Sunday School teaching (for three and a half years). I have also created a Risk Assessment for a day excursion I designed to the Museum of Sydney, which demonstrates I have considered practically the need to ensure student safety both in and outside the classroom.
I WILL…Continue to develop a range of behaviour management techniques in order to improve my teaching practice and promote a positive classroom environment. I will aim to keep a record of management strategies I employ on the next practicum, including new strategies I use/discover, as well as specific case studies of how I have used a strategy to meet the needs of a particular student. I want to make an effort to get to know students personally and develop a rapport with them. I will use this information to inform my teaching and promote a positive environment where students feel safe to participate and are engaged in meaningful learning experiences.
GOAL FOR PRACTICUM: Consciously employ strategies to build rapport with students and create positive learning environments. Experiment with different behaviour management techniques.
I NEED…To consider behaviour management strategies before I attend practicum, and decide how I will create a Quality Learning Environment through engagement, high expectations, social support and student direction (NSW Department of Education and Training, 2003, p. 13). In developing my own personal discipline model for the classroom, I need to consider not only the psychological and philosophical basis of discipline actions, but also whether these are consistent with my beliefs and teaching philosophy (Edwards & Watts, 2004, p. 27). I need to write a plan for specific strategies for students in my practicum class, possibly using information from my cooperating teacher’s Program to apply to my own management and interaction with the student/s. I will also need to access and read the school’s Welfare/ discipline strategy before I attend practicum. I need to continue seeking information about classroom management and discipline from academic journals, from observing teachers in a range of settings and by reflecting on my own teaching practice.
With this in mind, I can take the following steps towards my goals for practicum:
- Go on a Pre-Practicum visit and discuss with the teacher the students in the class, seeking to find information which will impact my planning.
- Read the school’s Welfare/Discipline policy and consider how I will need to incorporate structured methods of discipline in my own teaching practice.
- Consult Edwards & Watts’ (2004) book on classroom discipline and management to consider my teaching approach deeper.
- As part of my first lesson, I will ask students to fill out a personal sheet with questions about their interests, what they enjoy doing at school, what they dislike doing at school, and what they believe they are good at, and who they work well with in the classroom. This will allow me to consider interests and strengths of the class and plan teaching around this information.
- Document strategies used to build rapport with students and write personal reflections about whether I have created a positive classroom environment.
- Try at least one new classroom/behaviour management technique. Document strategies I’ve used/ seen during practicum.
I BELIEVE…that learning is improved in classroom environments which support learning effectively (NSW Department of Education and Training, 2003, p. 12). A quality teacher will manage the classroom in a way which ensures students feel and are safe, are encouraged to participate in purposeful and engaging activities, and are contributing to a positive classroom learning environment. This view has been shaped by my personal experience of great classrooms, as well as professional learning through my degree. I strongly agree with the statement “discipline problems are rare in classrooms in which students are involved and interested and in which they are appreciated and loved” (Edward & Watts, 2004, p. 300), which I consider the foundation of my classroom management beliefs. For me, the teacher has the responsibility of creating a classroom which promotes learning by providing meaningful learning opportunities and fostering a community of learners who encourage one another’s learning.
Element 5 Evidence
Annotations for the Evidence
I have included as evidence of my achievement of Element 5:
A reflection on how I as a teacher establish supportive and challenging learning environments using a number of strategies in the classroom. This highlights my personal beliefs about quality teaching practice and my own strengths as a teacher in this respect. It explains how I establish rapport with students and encourage learning. 5.1.1, 5.1.2, 5.1.3
A behaviour management statement which outlines my philosophy of classroom management, including engaging students in purposeful learning activities, managing student behaviour and implementing classroom discipline. As well as this, I have summarized the main ideas of Bill Roger’s classroom discipline and management model, which reflects my beliefs and practices as a teacher. 5.1.4, 5.1.5, 5.1.6
Reflection on positive and supportive learning environments
A personal strength of my own teaching is my ability to establish a positive learning environment for all students using a number of strategies in line with my personal philosophy of teaching, as reflected below.
Firstly, I believe that students should be valued and respected as individuals, and establishing a rapport with each student is therefore highly important in contributing to a warm classroom climate. Learning student’s names, interests and strengths within the classroom are simple ways in which as a teacher, I can value students and promote their contribution to classroom activities.
Within the classroom, I am calm in manner and enthusiastic in my approach to teaching and learning. I believe that teachers set the tone of the class, and by bringing energy, enthusiasm and encouragement into the classroom, I promote student engagement and interest in the learning activities.
The design and nature of activities in the classroom is something I consider in order to establish learning environments where all students participate. I believe in scaffolding tasks so that all students can achieve the outcome meaningfully, including extra support or extension work for students with specific learning needs. Further, I believe that providing a range of activities is important, especially with recognition of different learning styles and Multiple Intelligences, and providing choice in activities is therefore important to engage all students and support their learning.
Finally, something I value as a teacher is my positive feedback to students in order to enhance their learning and encourage student effort. Using both verbal and written feedback throughout lessons establishes a learning community where students can improve upon their own effort or quality of their work.
Behaviour Management Statement
Behaviour management is a challenging aspect of teacher’s work, occupying much classroom time and teaching energy. Challenging behaviour can range from annoying or distracting behaviours, refusal to participate in work, or even violent and aggressive behaviour. It is important to understand as teachers firstly that challenging behaviours occur for a reason, originating from factors such as the home or school, and serve a purpose (Conway, 2008). I believe as a teacher I need to recognise firstly that inappropriate behaviour is displayed by students for a reason, such as the work set being too difficult for them to complete, or not engaging, or they are having difficulties concentrating due to issues in the playground or at home. As such, when a student is displaying inappropriate classroom behaviours, my first response as a teacher is to ask “Why are they doing it?” and “What are they achieving by doing this behaviour?”.
I believe that the majority of behavioural problems arising in mainstream school situations occur as a result of classroom factors, which are under the direct control of the teacher, especially instructional methods, curriculum content and teaching strategies. In classrooms where teaching is productive and supportive, behaviour management issues decline and quality learning occurs (Conway, 2008, p. 199). Proactive measures aim to engage students in meaningful learning to prevent problem behaviours occurring, and are in my opinion the best way to eliminate challenging behaviours. This is difficult in a class of 30 students where not all students will be engaged by the same activity, however, this is the main challenge of a teacher’s work. Hendley (2007) acknowledges the importance of the teacher in creating a classroom environment which is supportive of positive interactions.
A significant proactive strategy is explicitly teaching the social skills and behaviours expected of the students (Lewis & Sugai, 1999, p. 3). It is important that as a class, rules and expectations within the classroom are established, as well as consequences for breaking agreed-upon boundaries. The most effective way to do this I believe is a school-wide strategy developed and taught by all staff members, which makes behaviour expectations clearly known by students, and is a proactive measure to prevent challenging behaviour. An example of this is the PBIS model which promotes positive behaviour with the rules “Be a learner”, “Be safe”, “Be respectful”, “Be responsible”.
Once a positive environment is established and students have been explicilty taught expectations of behaviour, the next challenge to teachers is acknowledging and correcting the challenging behaviours when they occur (Shanahan & Richmond, 2007, p. 6). For me, the Positive Behaviour Leadership model (Bill Rogers), is an effective model in behaviour management, as it seeks to minimise unnecessary confrontations, promotes use of positive choices and disciplines students respectfully (Edwards & Watts, 2004, pp. 219-220). As a teacher, decision making is important in classroom interactions, especially when it comes to disciplining students. Knowing students personally will inform when and how you will take action to minimise disruption in the classroom and steer the student(s) back on task. Of crucial importance is consistency in managing classroom behaviour issues, as students will understand what is fair and acceptable in discipline.
I therefore believe it is crucial to understand why student’s behaviour occurs, to be critically reflective of my own teaching practices in order to engage learners, to teach behaviour skills and expectations explicitly, and to treat students respectfully when attempting to counteract challenging behaviours.
Conway, R. (2008). Encouraging positive interactions (Chapter 6). In P. Foreman (Ed.), Inclusion in Action (pp. 198-244) (2nd ed.). Melbourne, VIC: Thomson.
Edwards, C. H., & Watts, V. (2004). Classroom discipline and management: An Australasian perspective. Milton, QLD: John Wiley & Sons.
Hendley, S. L. (2007). Use positive behaviour support for inclusion in the general education classroom. Intervention in School and Clinic, 42(4), 225-228.
Lewis, T., & Sugai, G. (1999). Effective behavior support: A systems approach to proactive schoolwide management. Focus on Exceptional Children, 31(6), 1-24.
Shanahan, J., & Richmond, C. (2007). Behaviour management via single case intervention. Special Education Perspectives 16(2), 5-19.
Bill Roger’s Principles for Positive Behaviour Leadership
- Express joint rights and responsibilities in rules
- Minimise unnecessary or embarrassing confrontation
- Enforce the use of appropriate choices
- Use discipline respectfully
- Effectively explain teacher expectations
Behaviour Management Preventative Strategies:
- Clearly establish rules in the classroom
- Create consequences for breaking rules
- Create a positive classroom atmosphere
- Employ a decisive teaching style
Edwards, C. H., & Watts, V. (2004). Classroom discipline and management: An Australasian perspective. Milton, QLD: John Wiley & Sons.