Key Factors In Effective Behaviour Management Education Essay

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Most will agree that effective behaviour management is an essential part of being a good teacher; after all, how can you teach a child anything if they are not focused on the lesson? For student teachers it is the area of greatest concern and even experienced teachers have the occasional nightmare about a class running riot. As suggested by Olsen & Cooper, it is a myth that good teachers don't have discipline problems. Another fabrication they discuss is that teacher are born and not made, 'It is encapsulated in the view that skilled teaching is a consequence of a certain personality type… This is a seductive view', (Olsen & Cooper, 2001). Terms like patience, optimism and resilience may seem to be personality traits; but they are in fact skills that can be learned in order to help a teacher successfully cope with disruptive pupils. Cowley agrees that all the aforementioned qualities can be learned and developed; she does however concede that there are some people who are born to be teachers, 'They seem to have a natural ability to engage with and inspire children, to transmit ideas or knowledge, and to control the behaviour of groups of people', (Cowley, 2006). Whilst this may seem in direct contradiction to Olsen & Cooper's view, she does follow up by stating that, 'It's the willingness to learn and develop that is important, and not the point from which you start that process', (Cowley, 2006) therefore re-emphasising the process of personal development.

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During the academic year for 2003/04 Ofsted reported that, 'behaviour was shown to be better in 68% of secondary schools', (Ofsted, 2005). Contrary to this, Rogers believes that, 'argumentative and challenging student behaviours are far more common in classrooms these days,' (Rogers, 2006). It is difficult to decide who is actually right without looking more closely at the respective texts. Ofsted go on to say that, 'the most common form of poor behaviour is persistent, low-level disruption of lessons that wears down staff and interrupts learning', (Ofsted, 2005). This leads us to believe that the figures quoted may be in reference to a significant decline in pupils exhibiting more violent behaviour and not the argumentative kind the Rogers infers to. An alternative perspective is that the presence of inspectors in a classroom environment has an effect on pupil behaviour. They are aware that they are being observed and understand that their actions affect the perception of the school from an outside point of view. Thus it may be justifiable to say that reports, such as the one undertaken by Ofsted, do not provide an accurate picture of a pupil conduct within school.

An acceptable standard of classroom behaviour is not something that just happens, 'The teacher must provide a class with leadership or it will emerge from within the group', (Visser, 2000). A fair and concise set of rules is the most emphatic way of ascertaining a teacher's place in the classroom hierarchy. They also form a clear agreement between students and the teacher that there are certain expectations in regards to behaviour and interaction. A common approach to establishing these rules is to sit with the class at the beginning of the school year and talk about what they think are fair rules, 'This ultimately will establish teacher credibility and reduce the students' tendencies to continue to test the teacher throughout the year', (Olsen & Cooper, 2001). It also makes life easier for the teacher by being able to refer to them when issuing consequences or sanctions, thus they are able to make it clear to the student that they are, 'simply following the school policy, rather than personally 'attacking' the student', (Cowley, 2006). Having realistic rules makes it far easier for pupils to follow them. For instance, using terms like 'I must' or 'we must' can increase stress levels by insisting that these rules have to be followed when the reality is that there is no obligation to comply with such demands, 'By reframing the demands to preferences based in reality, we tune into a workable reality without dropping our standards', (Rogers, 2006). Rules themselves are unlikely to cause an improvement in the behaviour of pupils. If pupils are given motivation to follow these rules then they are much more likely to do so. In the same way that lack of negative response to a violation of the rules is likely to result in a re-occurrence, lack of positive response to an exhibition of compliance to the rules is unlikely to warrant a repeat performance in the efforts of students to behave, 'If pupils are motivated to conform to school/teacher's requirements, then a knowledge of expected behaviour facilitates pupil self-regulation', (McNamara, 1999). Certain individuals will require more guidance than others due to the fact that the learned behaviour they exhibit is not one that is considered socially acceptable, 'Some pupils whom you teach may not have an adult in their life that models either politeness or ways of resolving conflict fairly', (Newell & Jeffery, 2002).

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One of the most challenging aspects of behaviour management lies within dealing with pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD). Here it is important to remember that a 'one size fits all' approach to teaching them is not effective. Whilst it is acknowledged that the process of dealing with challenging behaviour is a complex one, many teachers will seek to reduce their personal stress levels by having the problematic pupil removed from their class, 'This is understandable but not practical, nor professional if it is held that a school serves a community of needy individuals, many who lack social skills and dedication to learning', (Lines, 2003). Adaptations can be made for such pupils, which can provide them with opportunities to follow additional courses in subjects that they find more motivating, such as art, music and physical education. As a result, their behaviour changes as they have now found a focus on which to direct their energy. An important factor in understanding, defining and using the term EBD is to remember that it is not a condition and should therefore not be treated as such, 'EBD is useful as a general description, but that its ascription to a pupil should lead to that individual having his or her learning needs met. Once met, he or she should no longer be viewed as being a pupil with EBD', (Visser, 2000).

Whatever methods are chosen to deal with a pupil with EBD, it is always better to take a collegial approach. Leaving each teacher to come up with their own strategies can often cause colleagues to blame each other for not having the ability to cope with a pupil's behaviour. It is equally important to develop a relationship with parents to gain their support and understanding. This communication network allows the effective setup of things such as behaviour plans and restorative practice techniques, 'Behaviour is significantly better in settings which have a strong sense of community and work closely with parents,' (Ofsted, 2005). Sometimes it is unfortunately the case that there is no parental support in the child's life and as frustrating as it is for teachers that they are unable to control those influences and relationships, the emphasis and effort is better placed by means of supporting the student whilst they are in school. Outside agencies, such as psychologists, doctors and social workers can also play a key part in this. The sharing of information between these individuals can make a significant difference in the lives of pupils by providing the support they need to feel safe and thus the child is able to engage in learning, 'The development of a collaborative ethos is a key feature. This entails collaboration within school, between staff and between staff and pupils, as well as with outside agencies', (Visser et al, 2002).

The type of totalitarian discipline that is associated with the schools of yesteryear might have produced what can be considered model behaviour, but these methods did not allow for all pupils to be educated in a way that supported the needs of the individual, 'Calls for troops, or more disciplinary measures, do not achieve what we might assert is the core function of schools: to engage pupil in academic disciplines', (Dillon & Maguire, 2011). During these times learning difficulties such as dyslexia, autism and ADHD were not recognised or understood, which often resulted in children being written off as stupid or troublemakers and subjected to ridicule. We now have an understanding of these types of behaviours and thus we are able to adjust our teaching strategies so that they support a learning pathway that suits the individual. Special educational needs (SEN) pupils require more patience and understanding than the average student. This might be because they have a particular aversion to physical contact or perhaps because they can become especially fixated on something that piques their interest. The debate on whether children with SEN should be included in mainstream teaching or segregated from it is one that is still very much at the forefront of issues in education. Unfortunately the topic is too large to be included in this particular review but it does warrant mentioning as it directly affects behaviour management. Whilst there may be a disagreement as to whether inclusion is or is not the best method for the education of SEN children, it is generally accepted that the same support network is needed as it would be for EBD students, 'In recent years, we have seen a rapid rise in nurture groups, which may vary in the membership and leadership but all focus on small groups meeting to build links between home and school and the need to provide a bridge between the two', (Dillon & Maguire, 2011).

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In conclusion it can be said that good behaviour management methods are about a balanced combination of control and discipline along with improved attitudes to learning, 'Pupil management programs based on classroom management strategies, e.g. rules and positive teacher-pupil interactions, have a history of proven success', (McNamara, 1999). However, there is more of an emphasis on developing awareness as it is repeatedly put forward as an alternative approach to discipline. If the pupils and the teacher have established a respect for each other through etiquette and show perception and empathy in understanding; a cohesive and productive environment can be attained. Teaching is no longer just about improving a student's intellectual ability but also about helping them to develop their social and emotional skills, 'Behaviour management is not just about changing the behaviour of pupils but also that of teachers', (Newell & Jeffery, 2002). The common ethos in all the readings that have been referred to is one that promotes the idea of prevention being better than cure, meaning that it is far more effective if the possibility of disruptive behaviour is limited before it can find footing.