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Classroom management is a tool to build cooperative and incorporating procedures necessary for individual development and learning (Burden, 2016). Classroom management theories have been established to implement a functioning environment within the school environment and these include Authoritarian, Mixed-method and an Egalitarian approach. An approach to each theory is explained through Assertive discipline, Neo-Adlerian and Solution-focused approach.This paper will assess each theory in terms of its characteristics, benefits and challenges. Through careful consideration, my chosen philosophy in managing the classroom, being the solution-focused approach will be discussed.
My philosophy on teaching is bound by my ambition to build on a student character and skills. To improve their interaction, participation, motivation and drive within the classroom and it is these tools which will equips them for life in and outside the school setting. These skills inadvertently improve a students willingness to participate in activities within the classroom. In an attempt to assist students development, teachers must allow for student self-growth and decision-making to achieve necessary learning outcomes and improved learning (NSW Department of Education, 2017). In my opinion, these methods can only succeed through an egalitarian behavioural approach. The choice to implement this theory relies on the fact that impacted discipline, as seen through the authoritarian, can lead to student neglection and may mask the underlying issue as to why they act these way. The mixed method approach does implement useful strategies for student management by focussing on the classroom dynamic and environment but does little in the sense of providing each student a chance to solve their own issues which can automatically impact on their behaviour. My choice in wanting to adopt the solution-focused theory is aimed at improving self-reliance. Students can always be cared for within an environment they are familiar, but what is expected of them when there are no governing body to oversee their behaviour. It is through improving student welfare and building on positive notions of a students motivation, knowledge, skills, goals setting and willingness to identify issues they are familiar with and establish solutions to combat them (NSW Department of Education, 2017). All these theories require a common factor of a positive relationship between teacher and student for them to achieve their desired outcome. The Authoritarian theory, notably Assertive discipline, requires continual instruction given to the student to encourage a better managed classroom. In comparison, the Solution-focused approach provides greater flexibility and trust in students. These theories adapt a more talking ‘with’ model as opposed to the authoritarian talking ‘at’’ approach (de Shazer, 1994; as sighted in Lee, 2003). This method clearly demonstrates a teacher’s professional responsibility in acting in a ‘courteous and sensitive manner’ when dealing with students welfare (NSW Department of Education, 2017). This theory requires efficient teacher development and learning, hence the training of all staff within the schooling environment to adopt this approach is necessary (NSW Department of Education, 2017).
Assertive discipline is a behaviour approach under the banner of the authoritarian behavioural theory and was constructed to form a leadership program on improving classroom management by Lee Canter (1976). As stated by Ivanov (2005)It is aimed at improving classroom management strategies to proportionate the learning capabilities of students by establishing mutual respect and equality among teachers and students (Peneva and Mavrodiev, 2013) . The basis of this aim is essentially establishing prevention strategies with regards to misbehaviour amongst students through initial instructions based on the teachers expectations. Through this, assertive discipline attempts to prevent situations where teachers are left to deal with student misbehaviours within the classroom each time (Etheridge, 2010). This approach inadvertently leads to reduced time expenditure on managing the classroom by tacking student disruptive and attention issues (Canter and Canter, 1976). Assertive discipline has three main characteristics which include the emphasis on what rules must be followed within the classroom, the necessary measures to provide positive feedback to those abiding by the instructions of the teacher and to consistently establish discipline measures to students who are not cooperative with the requirements of the teacher (Swinson and Cording, 2002). The essence of these characteristics signify the importance of authority within the classroom and also implements a need for constant collaboration between both parties to understand the reasons for particular behaviour within the classroom (Lyons, Ford and Arthur-Kelly, 2013).
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Some benefits experienced from applying assertive discipline have been found, include the response of pupils reacting to this management to improve engagement to a reduction in discipline issues, does not require different methods to implement this strategy to multiple ages (Swinson and Cording, 2002), focuses on students succeeding through continued positive feedback, better relationships between students and teacher and a decreased incidence rate of misadventure and negative behavioural traits (Lyons, Ford and Arthur-Kelly, 2013). Edwards (2005) states that this behavioural theory is considered one of the most constructive methods in terms of managing behaviour, improving student standards and communication. The challenges experienced amongst teachers pursuing an assertive discipline approach to behaviour includes the need for training programs to ascertain the strategies involved in this behaviour theory as it usually favors more experienced teachers rather than novice teachers, the neglection to the core issues surrounding reasons for student misbehaviour and the over-empowering authoritarian mentality affecting the relationship between teacher and students (Lyons, Ford and Arthur-Kelly, 2013). At times teachers must know their boundaries in disciplining students, as stated by the Department of Education (2017) teachers must learn to “ Develop a non-confrontational behaviour management style”.
This behavioural theory perpetuates the dynamic of the classroom undesirable. Hence, my opinion on the underlying thought processes of students being treated in an authoritarian way affects the students need for growth in an educational and social sense. The needs of students may be ignored due to their fear of being disciplined as this method makes no attempt to understand why and how the student is acting in a certain way. The authoritarian model, does much as to praise students if they follow the rules of the teacher, however praise can only do so much to encourage active learning and hence fails in the area of continued engagement and drive of students within the classroom (Emmer and Stough, 2001).
Neo-adlerian theory approach to behavioural learning was first established Alfred Adler and has been used managing students in learning environments. In regards to education, the Neo-Adlerian concepts aims to establish student needs by focusing on the classroom as a whole, as opposed to focusing entirely on an individual (Millei, 2010). These aims are targeted through creating a group environment social interaction between students can have a profound effect on their behaviour in the classroom. Some social circumstances which may influence a students behaviour include “attention, power, revenge and proving inadequacy” (Kottman & Meany-Walen, 2016, p. 45). The characteristics of the Neo-Adlerian theory includes the focusing on the essence of belonging to groups, it attempts to establish a proper environment beneficial to the students needs, the idea that all students are equally motivated but each must be solely initiated by the students depending on their feelings and sense of inclusion and finally the negative notions of ostracisation, boredom and dissatisfaction and inherently affect a students ability to learn (Lyons, Ford and Arthur-Kelly, 2013). In the presence of the classroom, teachers can coherently develops the students involvement through empowering the students through success and refrains from praising them and in turn fuels their desire to improve their behaviour accordingly (Smit, 2010). In this theory, the praising of individuals is expected to discourage students and fails to achieve their potential as it creates an expectation of students to act and perform a certain way, as noticed through an authoritarian approach (Charles, 2002). This can be partly due to the schooling environment where they are viewed as being institution which invoke a certain set of rules for children to follow (Du Plessis, 2008). Unlike that of the Neo-Adlerian concept where the students are capable of identifying the basis for how and why they are acting a particular way, and provides them with more freedom and choice in improving their behaviours (Porter, 2000).
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Some positive aspects of this behavioural approach include the establishment of a sharing a leading role between teacher and student in decisions involving learning, the use of collaborative strategies in facilitating learning, the building of teacher-student relationships and the involvement of students in determine the cause to their behavioural aspects and finding solution to their misadventures will build them as thoughtful, liable citizens capable of improving themselves without the empowerment of authoritative figures (Lyons, Ford and Arthur-Kelly, 2013). However, this theory also experiences challenges in cases as research has not been extensive. Some of these challenges involve the experience of students through multiple management strategies may differ from the neo-adlerian approach which may impact on their self-awareness (Smit, 2010), the model’s principles can be noticed through long-term change and may neglect short-term problems and finally it may find it difficult to deal with challenging students in which they have formed a base to what they consider suitable behaviour (Lyons, Ford and Arthur-Kelly, 2013).
Solution focused approach
Solution-focused theory follows a egalitarian behavioural approach to managing the classroom. This model follows a problem-solving concept by uniquely addressing solutions to behaviour rather than focus on the problems causing them (Lyons, Ford & Arthur-Kelly, 2013) . In this, the solutions are carried out by the individuals themselves, as they are the considered the only ‘experts’ capable of understanding the issues surrounding them (Berg & Kelly, 2000). Solution focused approach aims to rebrand their problems and areas of issues, and emphasises on their strengths and skills making them capable or reiterating change in their lives (Lee, 2003).In such cases, the role of the teachers is solely to redefine the students current reality in order to provide them with a different outlook on themselves, hence equipping them with the ability to find a solution. If teachers, were to facilitate their own approach by providing their own life skills and recommendations, it may have a detrimental effect on the development of the student (Lee, 2003). In these roles teachers can improve the self-recognising aspect of the students by scaled,thoughtful questioning. The building of positive relationships between teacher can students involves using miracle, scaling, relationship exception questioning to change the cognitive process of students, in order to build a foundation for their capabilities and the resources they posses to find a solution (Berg & Dejong, 1996; as sighted in Franklin, Streeter, Kim & Tripodi, 2007). This method abides by the concept of understanding the welfare and situations of students to implement their behaviour strategy (NSW Department of Education, 2017). The characteristics of this approach is explained through the NICE plan which consists of noticing what conditions students are not experiencing problems, increase what works, create opportunities based of success from prior experiences and encourage every form of success even if it is to a small degree (Newman, Horne & Bartolomucci, 2000). Another technique to establishing this behavioural approach include setting small, realistic goal which can be co-constructed with the teacher (Watkins & Kurtz, 2001). The externalisation of problem-causing factors the students context can influence the students skills, knowledge and behaviour in conceptualizing positive change in their lives (Rumberger, 2004a). The impact of this behavioural theory can be shown through a study carried out by Newsome (2004) on the effect it can have on GPA. The study was carried over a series of weeks and found that groups of students showed a improvement in understanding content and gave the assessor a chance to recognise each student’s strengths and the issues provoking their learning. This approach also encounters some challenges as it is a highly individualised approach and necessary time and training is needed by teachers to carry it out (Lyons, Ford & Arthur-Kelly, 2013). The also requires the entire school system to adapt to these methods in order to build a suitable environment for the students (McDonald, 2013).
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