Professional Development In Secondary Education Education Essay
This assignment is a reflection of the trainees’ performance during placement two with the focus area of ‘classroom management’. The author will refer to a personal log kept during placement two and use Johns’ model of reflection (1994). The learning log includes three different ranges of classes; top, middle and bottom sets for pupils in years 9, 10 and 11. The model looks at the following areas:
It has been estimated that within the first three years of qualifying, over twenty percent of teachers leave education and up to fifty percent within five years. Many of these teachers refer to the poor behaviour of their pupils as one of the prime reasons for them leaving. (Teachingexpertise, online). It is the desire to avoid becoming a similar a statistic which is the reason for the chosen topic of the assignment.
A range of cross-curricular lessons were observed at both placements, particularly in placement two. The observations were a great opportunity to recognise different factors that were affecting lessons. Observations showed pupils misbehaving, disrupting the class, use of bad language and being very uncooperative; examples of which refer to the following three classes, as follows:
9A, a middle set ability class consisting of consisting of 27 pupils. There are 8 pupils who are classed as SEN with 4 G&T pupils. During observations the class was observed to be talkative and argumentative, this issue was a regular occurrence with the same pupils. 10D is a low ability class with 19 pupils, with 9 SEN pupils. This class is considerably small in comparison to the other two classes, but extremely challenging. The class mainly consist of boys. 11Z has 28 pupils, it is a low ability class; 15 of these pupils are of special needs with one G&T pupil.
When observing the latter two classes it was observed that the attendance varied on a day-to-day basis, with pupils entering the classroom at any possible stage of the lesson. The language used in lesson inappropriate, it was felt that pupils majority of the time had no real realisation of what they were saying. It was sad to see swearing on such a big scale. Attitude to learning varied from day-to-day, and it was noticed that pupils either found work too hard or too easy. Other pupils were clearly finding the new behaviour system and many changes to their schooling life difficult. Behaviour of these two classes can be described as ‘very challenging’.
It is the firm belief of the author that successful classroom management strategies are essential to maintaining high expectations and allowing all pupils to achieve their educational potential. Having positive management techniques provide a safe learning environment and allow all pupils to learn in a minimum disrupted classroom. A personal belief is behaviour management in the classroom should not be aimed at control, and instead on teaching pupils responsible choices.
The school setting of placement two are strong believers in adapting positive behaviour in all classrooms. The Positive Behaviour Management Policy (Appendix A) gives guidelines to all teachers in the school on techniques to deal with all levels of disruption in the classroom. This policy, despite being only introduced 22nd February 2010, can be effective immediately as a whole school approach because all pupils and teachers throughout the school understand their expectations.
The school has been awarded ‘Satisfactory’ by OFSTED in 2008 quoting “They [pupils] behave well in lessons but still lack self-discipline during unsupervised times. The school has correctly identified this as an immediate priority for improvement.” This was before the school went into special measures the following year to reopen as an academy.
According to the school policy pupils were given a new seating plan; the pupils were seated in boy-girl-boy arrangement and when it was not possible to seat them in this order due to an uneven number of boys and girls it was at the teacher’s discretion to seat pupils accordingly to the best of their judgement. (Appendix B).
Naturally this caused quite a bit if disruption in the classroom where pupils were constantly out of their seats and walking around to see their friends. However, sticking to the seating plan and employing other strategies such as the schools’ rewards and sanctions policy, the pupils settled down eventually. As a result of remaining firm on a decision, pupils were more focused on tasks.
To understand how to effectively manage pupils’ behaviour you need to understand why a young person chooses to behave a certain way in the classroom. Good teachers need to address their classroom expectations to build boundaries for the pupils to feel safe, be treated with respect and learn; (Rogers, 2000, p.76). Good teachers need to model their expected behaviour and demonstrate this in every lesson. This approach was used in different forms according to different year groups.
For consistency, every PowerPoint presentation had the behaviour policy implemented within it (Appendix C). Even though it was not always spoken about in great detail but just a reminder for pupils, it worked very well to be on the electronic whiteboard for pupils to see alongside the rewards for the lesson. Modelling behaviour expectations consistently every lesson showed significant importance to the lessons. Carrying out uniform checks at the start of every lesson, welcoming pupils into the room, having the behaviour and rewards system on the board every lesson created a teaching style, thus becoming an expectation for the pupils. After roughly three lessons of this practise it came to attention that pupils naturally lined up and were attentive when the teacher was present ready to welcome pupils in.
Having a well planned lesson could minimise low level classroom disruption because these pupils will be motivated to learn and achieve Philpott (2001, p.81). It was experienced, when different tasks were tailored for the different needs in the class, pupils were more engaged in their learning but in some classes no matter how much planning and differentiation was planned, there was still disruption of various kinds that could not be completely eliminated.
An example of this is referred to in log 2, 10D. The lesson was planned in great detail; it was full of differentiated short tasks just as other lessons were planned, but this strategy did not work. On evaluation and speaking to the mentor, it was clear that the school was undergoing a very big change which affected the behaviour of the pupils. The log takes into consideration the internal and external factors that affect behaviour.
The lack of respect for the new rules and understanding of change is just one of the many factors that could affect pupil behaviour. Despite the amount of planning put into the lesson pupils carried out very little work, and they seemed to think it would be acceptable to do 5 minutes of work and then spend the next 10 minutes on games. It was advised to remain firm and consistent in when dealing with game playing in lessons. Every time pupils choose to disobey the rules and played games, teacher went through the C1-C4 behaviour policy and wrote them on the board. After four lessons of recording the behaviour on E-Portal, a departmental action was taken on the use of games in ICT lessons. This had more of an impact on pupils’ behaviour in comparison to whole school rules. Using the behaviour policy has been extremely challenging for this class, with the reason being that majority of the class choose to do it ‘wrong’ and it gets very difficult to track throughout the lesson.
The host teacher advised, “Spending time on getting the class to respect the rules is worthwhile as its benefits will last longer and are great, and you need to stop teaching every time pupils are late or caught doing it wrong on the board to stay on top of everything.” Therefore the author recorded everything on the electronic whiteboard with minimum disruption to the lesson (Appendix E). Log 11, discusses how the author took on board this advice and put it into action. The image shows the scale of which the class are generally late and disruptive.
This was not the case with all classes as it also came to attention that the pupils who were academically slower than others would cause trouble in the class instead of cooperating. The reasons for their behaviour were frustration of not understanding and therefore feeling that they were not a part of the whole group. Another factor for these pupils’ poor behaviour was the lesson not being interesting, especially when they had fallen behind from their classmates. These factors would results in them finding the lesson difficult and they would feel that they were not given full consideration so they would display unpleasant behaviour. This is a stage of teaching where no classroom management can work as it is a factor a teacher needs to recognise and change. This is when the author started to differentiate more for weaker pupils to ensure they were given the right attention. The form of differentiation was more kinaesthetic; the author involved those pupils in the class demonstrations more. This proved to support pupils learning in the lesson because in effect they were busy working therefore had little time to display inappropriate behaviour.
Tactically ignoring pupils is another positive tool to avoid giving meaning to their negative behaviour and to prevent any further disruption to the class. A positive approach to ignore bad behaviour is to reinforce positive feedback to the pupils’ demonstrating the teacher’s expectations (Rogers, 2000, p.111). One could ignore low level disruption if learning for others can continue. When the class are involved in practical/written work the teacher can use the time to deal with disruptive pupil’s behaviour without a peer audience and disruption to the lesson. Log 3 is a perfect example of how this theory was effectively used to avoid major disruption to the lesson. For strategies to achieve positive behaviour Canter, Rogers and Cowley firmly believe in ‘catching them being good.’ The message this gives to the pupils is positive and hopefully builds self-esteem to maintain the teachers’ expected behaviour. This can build a positive working relationship within the classroom.
For example, when pupils are asked to switch off their monitors, pupils are normally very reluctant to do this and it generally takes longer with then older pupils. Instead of focusing on pupils who are taking time and are not following instructions, the teacher focuses on the pupils who are doing it right, the teacher will say ‘thank you’ to pupils X, Y and Z for following instructions. By focusing on the positive and not the negative created a positive environment, pupils smiled when rewarded with praise for doing the right thing. It created a sense of realisation with other pupils that they were doing something irregular to the rest of the class hence why they were not praised. It instantly created an environment to do the right thing where other pupils followed.
Before embarking on research into positive behaviour management, the author was very weak at being assertive to low level disruption. The author was academically unaware of tactically ignoring behaviour and diffusing situations. Praising positive behaviour and trying to catch pupils when they were good is felt to be a strong characteristic of the author. It was not clear how to use non verbal responses, which resulted in personal exhaustion to maintain the focus of all pupils.
Log 1 is an example of this characteristic, which gradually improved with the advice of the host teacher which is evident in log 6. A mixture of behaviour management strategies were used with this one particular pupil, including the advice to use humour to end the friction. When the pupil started to listen, the teacher would then use the behaviour policy in a different way to maintain a safe working environment. It was vital to observe other staff and see other techniques and try to adapt them. Other strategies such a positive reinforcement, ignoring minor disruption and raising the hand for an end to a matter or to silence an argument worked effectively.
Even though the year 11 pupil did not respect the teacher, she still responded to the different strategies, the humour, positive reinforcement and positive language, which eliminated her desire to create a confrontational scene. Providing choices to pupils gives them the responsibility to control their own behaviour. Giving sanctions to pupils for being disruptive could teach pupils ‘that they live in a consequential world’ (Rogers, 2000, p.90). Giving consequences to a pupil can be effective to control a pupil’s behaviour, but it could argue that the pupil does not learn morally why to control their behaviour especially when the behaviour is not discussed.
Giving pupils choices is important to establish working relationships with the pupil. The pupils can learn how to behave for the teacher’s behaviour expectations (Appendix E). A perfect example of this has been identified in log 4. A pupil’s behaviour dramatically improved, along with his attitude towards his work. He always came to lesson wanting to achieve the lessons objectives. It was amazing to see a pupil grow in maturity and develop for the better with the use of compromise.
During both placements it was observed that teachers used non-verbal directions to keep pupils on task. Some teachers would invade the pupil’s space with a hand to gain their attention. With lower years this strategy was most effective, however with older years it would only control the situation for a short while. The younger pupils would normally comply with no confrontation. With the older pupils, the problem would continue and the teacher would then diffuse the situation by moving one of the pupils to another seat in the classroom.
When the same techniques where used to diffuse distraction, the author would encounter further confrontational refusals. Research shows that outright confrontation should be avoided at all times. It was extremely difficult to remain positive by remaining clam and focused. In log 10 the pupil argued that their behaviour was not a problem and how it was not affecting the learning of others. Different techniques were used to avoid argument such as, ‘can you please move to computer 23, thank you’. This technique has worked effectively in the past as it confuses the pupil. As you have already thanked them in advanced it was found pupils felt the need to comply. On this occasion, the pupil insisted to remain in their seat.
Giving up and allowing the pupil to remain in his seat would have resulted in other pupils losing respect for the classroom rules. To overcome the problem, the pupil was presented with a choice which was delivered in a calm tone of voice. The choice was to comply or receive a consequence if they choose to defiance. This worked as the pupil complied eventually and moved to another seat, albeit in a disruptive manner.
To avoid any more time being wasted and giving the pupil the attention he so clearly wanted, his decision to move in such a manner was tactically ignored. Once seated, the pupil was thanked again to keep a positive atmosphere in the classroom. During the practical aspect of the lesson, the author focused on the disruptive pupils’ classroom behaviour so he could be caught ‘doing it right’ or even be caught ‘being good’. When the pupil was caught doing it right, positive praise was given to him to build self esteem and diminish any negative feelings from the previous incident the pupil still may have felt.
The author encountered many different behaviour issues in placement two. Taking on board advice and the trial and error of different techniques helped build confidence. Having confidence in oneself plays a key role in delivering behaviour management. It was felt that at the start the author did not have confidence and because of this the pupils did not take the author seriously. Gradually confidence was starting to build by taking on board advice from the mentor and slowly the art of being firm and assertive one minute, and then going back to ones normal self to continue to focus on creating a positive teaching and learning environment.
Log 5 discusses a situation in which the author found themselves in. The host teacher was not present and the cover supervisor was unaware of the needs of the pupils or the behaviour strategies that were discussed with the host teacher. Naturally, this made the author feel nervous and anxious anticipating something going wrong as both pupils and the author were in a new environment. As mentioned in the log, once the pupil chooses to do it wrong and disrupt the learning of others, it was clear that the author had to take action. Doing this in new unaccustomed circumstances added pressure to the confidence of the author which was due to the absence of the cover supervisor and the presence of just the author with the class.
It was vital for the author to make a mark on the situation and regain control of the teaching and learning. As mentioned, the author felt that they were firm but fair in explaining that the pupil was given a choice but he choose the wrong choice which resulted in yellow parking into another classroom where he had to copy out the behaviour policy out.
On evaluation and having spoken to the host teacher the following day, a great sense of achievement was felt by the two. The host teacher explained the author was doing everything right i.e. seating plan, lesson expectations and simple clear classroom rules. It was explained these strategies were good as they introduced consistency and structure for the pupils; nevertheless these strategies were in place to set the tone of the classroom, not to tackle poor behaviour. The feedback suggested that confidence and self believe is a big part of classroom management. It was a great satisfaction when the pupil got up and moved after being warned that he was going to be yellow parked.
He could have retaliated but because the pupil was presented with options, which he then choose to test to examine if the class rules really exist. He was then given a consequence which he was made fully aware of previously and was already mentally prepared for and therefore it was felt that this was the reason why he did not continue to misbehave.
During both placements a range of strategies were incorporated to help assist ones behaviour management within the classroom environment. It is now understood that different strategies are required depending on the situation and the pupils in question; therefore having a bank of strategies to choose from allows a teacher to deal with each situation effectively, as described above and in the learning log. With these techniques the author is now able to maintain a positive learning environment and build good working relationships with the pupils which helps manage behaviour long term.
When first encountered with pupil confrontation, the natural instincts were to raise ones voice to manage pupils’ behaviour. Observations, evaluating lessons and researching positive classroom techniques helped the author realise that raising ones voice would result in confrontation which could lead to an unsafe learning environment, which in turn can lead to stress and anxiety. It was also observed that confrontation and allowing the teacher to get angry actually means losing control rather than gaining control.
It is now understood that reinforcing classroom expectations is important to use in all lessons. This introduces structure to the pupils and shows the teacher is consistent in classroom management as well as fair and firm if the expectations are simple and enforced consistently. Also this technique can help diffuse low level disruption without causing confrontation. When pupils do refuse to comply with expectations it allows one to correct their behaviour with consequential choices.
Through the use of trial and error it came to attention that knowing these steps kept the author calmer and in control of any behavioural situations in a more effective manner. Advice from host teachers helped building confidence and understanding on professional judgment when deciding to remove a pupil from the classroom environment. If a pupil refuses to accept the teacher’s authority then the pupil should be removed for safety reasons until they are ready for learning (Petty 2004:118). The author believes the techniques implemented so far will help further professional practice in delivering safe and positive lessons. During the placements a great deal has been an achieved in terms of classroom management, not only behaviour management strategies but how to be confident and assertive to combat disruptions to sustain learning in lessons.
This learning does not mean the author classroom will be perfect as classroom management will always be a learning curve where the author will learn from different pupils and different schooling environments. One of the key factors that the author has developed is ‘Sometimes you have to lose the odd battle in order to win the war’. This is a technique the author feels she needs to master as time progresses as part of her professional development. It is understood that it is best to let certain things slide to achieve the greater outcome but to implement this consistently and concisely will take time.
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