In this essay I have researched a range of behaviours encountered in different learning environments and the policies and procedures used in various organisations. I will also review my own strengths and development needs in managing behaviour in a range of settings
"Behaviour management is not only about learner behaviour. It is also about the behaviour of tutors and managers. Behaviour management strategies work best when the aims are made explicit and shared with the key players - learners, tutors and managers" (learning and skills development agency: 2008)
There are many factors that can influence a learner's behaviour; these can stem from things like their previous schooling experience, their upbringing, their current situation or peer pressure. Motivation is another key factor, whether they are intrinsically motivated; where the need to learn comes to them from within or extrinsically motivated; whereby they are motivated by external factors such as money or rewards. Learners who are intrinsically motivated generally achieve better as they are willing to learn for themselves, whereas extrinsic learners may need to be bribed with a reward.
"A theorist by the name of Abraham Maslow has concluded that before we can be intrinsically motivated we must first satisfy some more basic human needs. According to Maslow there are five basic levels of human needs."(Florida International University: 2010)
It is important that these basic needs are met by the tutor so the learners are able to feel comfortable and safe. Wallace(2007) "Maslow would argue, if a learner is cold, or uncomfortable, or frightened or has certain worries on their mind, they wont be able to turn their attention to learning, until these lower-order needs are met". The place of learning needs to feel like a safe place, the layout of the furniture room should be inviting and welcoming, the room temperature needs to be set accordingly for a learner to feel comfortable.
If the factors affecting learners behaviour are "sociological"," economical", or "historical" then the tutors applying Maslow would struggle to motivate the learners.
For an adult leaner to go back into education can be a daunting concept and experience. Each one has a different motivation for doing a course and whatever their driving force is for example; career, financial, personal or pressure this will inevitably influence their behaviour.
Often in the setting I work in, adult learners come from the jobcentre to enrol onto a course against their will, so they can continue receiving benefits. Their attitudes can at times be undesirable and on other occasions even hostile. This can be quite exigent for both the learner and the tutor. Both are aware that they are just going through the motions with the enrolment process. The learner has no intentions of returning and the tutor has to complete the paperwork and still give a full induction as they would with any other learner. This can be just as demoralising for the tutor.
Often adult learners that attend courses feel like it's a waste of their time with the current economic climate as they don't believe more teaching and another course would help then get a job. They can arrive at the centre with a lot of emotional baggage and flashbacks to their past schooling which can have a terrifying impact on them as adults bringing back all sorts of bad experiences from their previous learning environment. It is the tutors' duty to make sure they feel comfortable to leave this baggage at the door.
Every learner is required to complete initial assessments before taking on any course. I encountered a behavioural situation whereby a learner refused to take an initial assessment and behaved quite aggressively. Having used some negotiating skills to calm things down, he completed the paperwork and surprised himself with the results. This kind of behaviour was a result of a previous bad experience from his school days where he was constantly told that he was 'useless' so he left school at 14, with no qualifications. His outburst made other learners uneasy. They also questioned why they had to complete assessments and for some, it knocked their confidence as self doubt started to kick in. I realised I needed to explain a bit further that these were just assessments and not a test and it was for my benefit to see how best I could help them individually by knowing their current skills set, this put them at ease.
Behaviour issues can often arise due to issues linked with attendance and time keeping. Punctuality is the most common problem that I encounter, whilst teaching. As mentioned earlier most of my learners are unemployed and to get them motivated it part of the battle. They struggle to attend a class that has a nine o'clock start as they refuse to start their day in rush hour traffic and for most of them their bus pass are not valid until a certain time. Therefore our course starts at 9.30 but even then the punctuality or attendance can often be poor.
The courses I deliver require the learners to have basic IT skills and to use a computer. This often acts as another barrier as it heightens personal fear and lack of self-confidence in some adult learners. Some have never used a computer before and they need to tackle that issue first before they can go to learn literacy or numeracy. This is quite challenging in itself, again you can almost guarantee when this happens that the learner will often not return after week one.
The information and paperwork used for learners should be clear and informative when promoting courses, so the learners are made fully aware of what is expected of them. If the learners are required to do assessments then they should be told from the start, if all the courses are on-line then this should be conveyed from the offset so that the learner can see that there are no hidden agendas or surprises when starting a new course.
A small minority of my learners are employed and are sent from their employers; again some are reluctant to be there. They feel it is a waste of their times as they have been doing the job for sometime and don't therefore feel they need a qualification at this point of their career. This can mean their hearts are not in it, so they attend with the wrong mindset and come across as impatient and disinclined to study. As the courses are on-line they have to be self-motivated to complete by the set target date. This is becoming quite a critical issue for the organisation I am employed by as we are being penalised for learners not completing on time.
Organisations are required by law to have policies and procedures in place. This is so everyone in the organisations is treated fairly and so that both staff and students are protected. The policies used at Solomon Training are Alcohol and Drugs policy, Health & Safety and a Computer health & safety and complaints procedure. We also have a policy in place for accessing the internet and downloading or viewing inappropriate material. Learners are required to abide by these rules and regulations and are requested to sign declarations at the induction agreeing with the consequences should inappropriate behaviour take place. It is the tutors' responsibility to report any misconduct; the tutors have all been given Safeguarding training on how to handle such situations and the reporting procedure. During induction all learners are given these policies in their welcome packs so as to reinforce what is expected of them as students. I personally don't feel they are given enough time to review these before signing a declaration, the policies need to be broken down in less jargon and verbally explained for the learner to fully understand the consequences should any misdemeanours take place. There are many legislation in place protect everyone in organisation such as: Health & Safety Act 1974, Disability discrimination Act 2005, Equality Act 2006. The policies and procedures are in place to protect the tutors as much as the learners.
The teacher's attitude can influence behaviour in the classroom. From the offset the teacher needs to lay down ground rules. The learners need to understand what the rules are such as time-keeping, use of mobile phones, eating at their desks, listening to music etc. These ground rules can be compiled together so the learners can feel that they are part of the set up and not just being ordered by the tutor. This can help to build a good rapport with the learners, making sure everyone feels involved. It is imperative for the learners to feel comfortable and it is the tutors' responsibility to enable this by treating all learners fairly, by remembering to use learner names when addressing them and by trying to get all learners to participate and engage with the session.
Disruptive learners will often try and challenge the tutor using abusive language or trying to make then feel intimated but the tutor needs to uses strategies to handle such situations. If the learner is raising their voice, the tutor should try and stay calm, and not change their tone. The tutor needs to keep control of the class and be assertive but not using physical contact when trying to discipline the learner. By keeping eye-contact and not showing fear can also show the learner that their attempts of intimidation are not working
. The tutor has to find ways to prevent inappropriate behaviour occurring rather than trying to manage it.
At times the tutors can be put into a difficult predicament where they have to tolerate bad behaviour just so their organisation can claim the funding per learner. Most courses are funded by learner numbers and achievements so the organisation would be discouraged to take learners of the course.
Circumstances out of the tutors control can always arise and some responsibilities must lie with management such as the making sure there are adequate resources and the IT equipment works as it should. On one occasion I informed the management that the overhead projector was not working properly and the computers were running slow, they chose to ignore the situation and I still attempted to deliver under those conditions. One learner became very frustrated and impatient and began to voice this by using bad language. This was an awkward situation as I could empathise with him but it was out of my control. I chose to ignore his comments and continued.
I realised after, that this was not handled well as he continued to misbehave which started to affect other learners. I should have addressed the situation at the start and made it clear that his attitude would not be tolerated. I don't like confrontation so I think I would struggle calming learners down, particularly as I teach only adult learners who are also generally older than me. But luckily I rarely get into situations where I have to deal with bad behaviour.