From the age of around three years, children spend majority of their time in school. Therefore, teachers are faced with a great deal of responsibility in becoming one of the primary influencers of good behaviour for school aged children. Positive behavior established during a student's primary school years will have a greater influence on a child's behavior for their entire schooling experience. Therefore, primary school teachers have a crucial impact on their students' future educational aspirations. Subsequently, it is imperative teachers are confident in their abilities to establish clear rules and boundaries without placing restrictions on their students' creativity.
Behavior management is an educational term used to 'cover the ways in which teachers organize and control pupil behavior, movement and interaction so that teaching and learning can occur most effectively' (Griggs, R. pg. 333) Alternatively, the term behavior leadership is a contrasting principle to behavior management. Behavior leadership endorses the principle of taking a proactive approach to gain control of situations to create a pre-planned ideal scenario, whereas, behavior management is a promoter of taking control of various situations by reacting to situations as they arise.
Every child is an individual, with their own unique traits and behavior, which will represent varying challenges to each teacher. Thus, the teacher will need to have the flexibility to adapt their teaching methods, and their behavior management principles to suit each individual needs. Subsequently, it is important that teachers do not become too rigid in their approach to promoting good behavior. The success of encouraging good behavior lies in finding a good balance of the two approaches of leadership and management.
However, children are individuals and their behavior will vastly vary. Teachers must be able to demonstrate behavioral management to react to situations of negative behavior before they become big disturbances to learning. Here, teachers must be able to instruct their students' right from wrong and award punishments fairly and appropriately. Additionally, it would be good practice for teachers to reward improvement in behavior as well as good behavior.
Furthermore, teachers should assume to face a wide variety of behavior from students, and prepare appropriately. Such children may be jocular; easy to teach; withdrawn; introverted; extroverted; hard to manage or a medium anywhere in between. One method of encouraging positive behavior may work on the majority of students, but may fail with others. Thus, it is crucial for a teacher to have the ability to shape positive behavior in all of their students.
Teachers being the facilitators of learning can manipulate and control factors within their classroom setting to enhance their students' ability to achieve. Children are extremely observant and watch people behave all around them. They see how individuals including the teacher treat other people and how they deal with difficult situations. It is the role of the teacher to provide positive examples for their children. Modeling such attributes will assist your students to become better equipped to manage their own behaviour.
Children do not automatically know how to behave, hence need to be taught what is right and wrong. A number of theories exhibit how and why behavior is learnt.
Social Learning theory, developed by Albert Bandura, demonstrates the importance of learning through imitation. Through Bobo Doll Study, Bandura was able to demonstrate that aggressive behaviour can be learnt simply by observing adults. This theory presumes learning is not entirely behavioural, but more so, a cognitive process that must take place in a social context.
Bandura suggests behaviour acquired through observation is learnt through a number of stages; Attention, Retention, Reproduction and Motivation.
In order to learn, the observer must pay attention to the behaviour modelled to them. The observers perceptual and cognitive abilities in addition to the relevance and functional value placed upon the observation determines the level of attention paid to the behaviour.
The cognitive capabilities also play an important role in the retention of the observation. The ability for the observer to remember the observation lies in the strength of their cognitive rehearsal and is also influenced by the complexity of the observation.
The observer must organise and delve into their physical and cognitive abilities to remember the observation and then reproduce it.
Motivation can affect the success of observation based learning. The decision to reproduce or even remember an observation is dependent on the motivation and expectation of the observer. The encouragement of positive behaviour and other anticipated consequences will give the observer a great chance of increasing their own expectations and subsequently improve their motivation to reproduce observation based learning.
Banduras theory therefore greatly emphasises the importance of both classroom teachers and peers influencing each other's behaviour. The concept of this theory can be justified through both behavioural leadership and management. Teachers who favour the former, will be able to positive reinforce good behavioural standards and have control of their student, which can keep negative influences to a minimum whilst promoting positive influences as much as possible. For those teachers who favour the latter, they will be able to react accordingly and ensure any action, whether positive or negative, is highlighted to the rest of the group to encourage higher standards.
An important learning method teachers may adopt in social learning theory is the concept of reciprocal determinism. This notion determines, whilst an individual will be influenced by the environment; the situation will find a natural balance as the environment will also be influenced by the individual's behaviour. Therefore, an individual's behaviour, environment and personal qualities will reciprocally influence each other.
Subsequently, if a child were to display negative behaviour within the classroom, and their peers observed the attention received by others within the class, they may be influenced by the different behaviour stemming from the original individual. This may encourage the majority of the individuals to reciprocate similar disruptive behaviour, therefore disturbing the calm learning environment.
However, if the same situation were to arise and the peers were to respond negatively to the disruptive behaviour from the original individual the balance would remain. The individual may then feel their bad behaviour is not conductive to keeping to a good social circle. Subsequently, whilst the concept of reciprocal determinism is important, a teacher with a good application of behavioural leadership can negate the effects of negative reciprocal determinism by encouraging a strong group of individuals who display positive behaviour to outweigh those who display negative behaviour.
Social learning theory proposes that rewards are not the sole force behind creating motivation. There are other factors such as thoughts, beliefs, morals and feedback which help to increase motivation in individuals. Subsequently the scenario where we see another individuals behavior and adopt them as our own aide the mental states and cognitive process in addition to the learning process. However, there are other ways in which individuals can learn, which include vicarious experience, verbal persuasion and physiological states.
The technique of guided participation has been adopted by many classroom and teaching strategies. This is where the principles of social learning is used to enhance students' knowledge, acquisition and retention. Guided participation draws on the experience of the teacher to encourage students to repeat a phrase after the teacher. Subsequently, the students' both imitate and reproduce the teacher's actions, which will aid retention.
An extension of guided participation is reciprocal learning. This involves the teacher developing a certain level of trust in their students, and having the confident to allow for both student and teacher to share in responsibility of leading the discussion. This level of trust is crucial in allowing the students to feel a level of empowerment, which will encourage increased motivation in acquisition and retention.
Additionally, teachers can shape the behavior of students within the classroom by modelling appropriate behavior. This is where the teacher will visibly reward students for good behavior, and encourage other students to take up positive behavioral traits. Here, the emphasis of the teacher's role as a model and encouragement of students to adopt the position of observer will make practices explicit to students, and enhance their learning experience.
Equally, teachers will also need to have the adaptability to understand there may be uncontrollable factors, which will influence behaviour, both positively and negatively. Influencers and role models such as family members can often unintentionally encourage negative and disruptive behaviour. Family dynamics can often exacerbate such situations, which may be brought into the classroom and affect the dynamics of the classroom. However, an effective teacher will be able to apply behavioral leadership and account for uncontrollable situations and therefore adapt their lesson accordingly.
Preparing a good structure and routine to every day learning is a necessary fundamental in preparing students for learning and encouraging positive behaviour. This is where a teacher will make use of their behavioral leadership principles and coax their students into demonstrating good behavior. Thus, the teacher will have taken control of the students from the beginning to create the ideal situation.
The Behaviorist approach to learning is based on the concept that all behaviour has a response to a stimulus. It is assumed that our actions are determined by our environment, which provides stimuli to which we respond, and the environments we have been in in the past, which caused us to learn to respond to stimuli in particular ways. Behaviorists also believe that people are born with only a handful of innate reflexes (stimulus-response units that do not need to be learned) and that all of a person's complex behaviors are the result of learning through interaction with the environment.
Behaviour modification is a set of techniques based on operant conditioning coined by B.F.Skinner in 1938. The term operant conditioning means changing behaviour by the use of reinforcement which is given after the desired response. This involves the reinforcement of desired behaviour and ignoring or even punishing undesired behaviour. However, this is a very simplistic approach and the constant reinforcement of desirable behaviour is essentially bribery.
This theory can be demonstrated by a study carried out by Skinner. He showed how positive reinforcement worked by placing a hungry rat in his Skinner box. The box contained a lever in the side and as the rat moved about the box it would accidentally knock the lever. As soon as the lever was knocked, a food pellet would drop into a container next to the lever. The rat quickly learned to go straight to the lever after a few times of being put in the box. The consequence of receiving food if they pressed the lever ensured that they would repeat the action again and again.
Positive reinforcement strengthens a behaviour by providing a consequence an individual finds rewarding.
However, there are different types of positive reinforcements. Primary reinforcement is when a reward strengthens behaviour by itself, and where the observer is rewarded for good behaviour. Secondary reinforcement is when something strengthens behaviour because it leads to a primary reinforce.
Behaviour modification therapy has a relevance to shaping skill performance, specifically in giving positive reinforcement in the way of providing compliments, approval, encouragement and affirmation. A ratio of five compliments for every one complaint is generally seen as being the most effective way in altering behaviour to a desired manner.
Examples of behaviour modification therapy include token economy and behaviour shaping.
The token economy is an example of secondary reinforcement and is the term used to systems where targeted behaviour is reinforced with tokens. It is a popular method used within primary schools to reward good behaviour. The tokens are subsequently exchanged for a reward, which is known as primary reinforcement. The tokens can take the form of fake currency, buttons, stickers and things of a similar nature; whilst rewards can range from snacks to activities and certifications.
Positive and negative reinforcers are both used to strengthen behaviour. Individuals often respond to verbal operants by taking advice; listening to the warnings of others; and obeying given rules and laws. Subsequently, the knowledge of what could happen if certain behaviours are chosen can be enough to keep us from acting in negative ways. Though the ability to benefit from the experiences of others as examples of what could happen is a characteristic many individuals possess.
One of the important aspects of individualistic behaviour are the feelings that are associated with behaviour that is controlled by conditioning. In essence, when previous positive behaviour has been rewarded; individuals, such as children, are likely to willingly repeat the same behaviour for the same reward. In contrast, if children decide to apply a form a behaviour in order to avoid a repeat of negative reinforcement, they may feel their will is being suppressed. However, all individuals including children, have the freedom to behave in any manner of their own choosing. Though, each individual has to be willing to face the consequences of their own actions.
The concept of changing the result of an action, or applying new consequences to guide behaviour is commonly known as behaviour modification. Historically, the majority of parents chose to control the behaviour of their children through the use of negative reinforcement. Subsequently, punishment was the consequence of misbehaviour of the disregarding of house rules.
In the present era, school systems, child authorities and even parents are more inclined to provide positive reinforcement techniques to encourage positive behaviour amongst children. The results of this positive reinforcement is usually not immediate, but they are seen as healthier and crucially founding the steps for long term positive behaviour. This provides children with the appropriate guidelines, whilst allowing children to maintain they dignity and save them from any embarrassment amongst their peers. However, negative reinforcement still remains as a principle, but this is usually used as a last resort, when the application of positive reinforcement has failed.
There are many strategies used within the classroom for behaviour management, which may vary amongst different teachers. However, it is the teachers' responsibility to maintain harmony and the process of learning within the classroom. One way to encourage this is to involve the students in the decision making of the classroom outlining rights and responsibilities. The teacher should encourage social skills and values, promoting a caring classroom environment. Using different behaviour management techniques promotes a positive community that encourages student learning, positive peer and teacher relationships and self-motivation. It allows the students to have ownership and success in all aspects of their schooling instead of simply complying with the demands of their teacher.
There are a number of effective classroom behaviour management strategies.
Being fair and consistent is probably the most important skill that a teacher can display in the class. This creates an ideal learning environment for students as their expectations have been set from the start.
Creating a classroom community where the teacher and the students jointly develop their classroom rules and responsibilities. This will allow for development of the culture of the class and the positive behaviour of the students within. Encouraging regular class meetings, allow for the students to express their concerns, but also celebrate their successes with their peers. Thus, this creates a supporting community feel within the classroom.
Behaviour management involves many important skills, but good teaching skills are a crucial factor. Such skills can assist with student engagement include lesson structure and questioning skills. When planning lessons and the content the teacher should will deliver they must fully consider the types of strategies needed in order to maintain the interests of the students. This should ideally lead to fewer behavioural issues.
Mixing the structure of the lessons to introduce variety will help keep the children engaged. Subsequently, this will reduce the possibility of students becoming bored and therefore deferring away from the tasks at hand. Different lesson strategies used could include; talk partners, shared writing, mind mapping, concept attainment, learning centres and role play.
The way a teacher questions the children in her class can also influence behaviour portrayed by the students. If the questioning to the questions are at a lower level, the children may not be motivated to answer as it will not be challenging enough for them. Similarly, if the questioning was done at a higher level. An effective teacher of behaviour management will level the questions appropriate to the individuals and be able to adapt the questions according to the responses given.
Low key responses are strategies that do not disrupt the flow of the lesson much but often have great results. These include strategies such as 'The Look'. This involves the teacher using a certain look to convey to the misbehaving student that what they are doing is inappropriate. This is great to use as a first option when a student starts misbehaving and can also help with stopping other students following suit. Similarly a big smile demonstrates to students that their behaviour is positive and desired.
Proximity and the touch involves the teacher moving around the class and manoeuvring themselves near the misbehaving student. This method needs to be used with some caution as some student do not appreciate invasion of their space and thus continue to show negative behaviour which could further escalate the situation if other children decide to join in.
Using signals such as clapping hands, raising hands in the air and wiggling fingers is effective in gaining children's attention. It demonstrates to children that the teacher is waiting for a desired response, such as 'all eyes on the teacher'. This method is useful in all areas of a school and situations
Positive learning behavior in a primary schooling environment can be easily recognizable providing the appropriate measures are in place. Children will be alert, and they will ask questions to express the curiosity about the topics involves and strive to learn more. Subsequently, when a child has acquired the relevant knowledge in a lesson it is good practice to ask questions to review the topic and reinforce the knowledge the child has acquired. Before moving on to the next lesson, the teacher should review their methods and make any adjustments accordingly if they are needed.
Incidentally, negative behavior in a primary schooling environment can also be easily recognized. A child will typically acquire little to no comprehension of the topics taught. Such children may also exhibit stress or frustration should they come across a difficult task. This frustration may lead to arguing with peers, or even teachers. They may also complain about rules or instructions, or may simply avoid the lessons completely. Consequently, it is crucial the teacher finds the root cause of the behavioral issue at hand and works to address the issue and eradicate the symptoms of the problem.
Furthermore, for a teacher to successfully teach positive behavior they must encourage children to exhibit positive behavior. This can be achieved by guiding them towards the correct attitudes to learning through the enforcement of rules and regulation. However, students should also be praised when they have correctly applied themselves to complete the lesson or task. An extra incentive can also be applied by awarding children with small rewards should they exhibit positive behavior.
Though it is important for a teacher to actively encourage positive teaching, they must also remain disciplined. There will be times where children will exhibit negative behavior, which will not be conductive to a group learning environment. In such instances, a teacher will do well to address the situation and ensure the remainder of the group are unaffected. Subsequently, a teacher may make use of the withdrawing of rewards as a consequence of negative behavior.
To summarize, teachers will need to establish the conditions for learning and ensure they positively enforce the rules and conditions. If teacher are to free themselves from the distractions of unwanted and disruptive behavior they must strike a fine balance between demonstrating a good grasp of behavioral leadership and behavioral management. Teachers must be able to apply the fundamental psychological and social conditions for learning through the appropriate use of roles, routines and relationships.
Furthermore, between the teacher and student should be clearly understood, appreciated and respected. Students will understand the role of the teacher as some who is dedicated to teach them and manage their learning process. The teacher will also understand and respect the role of the learner as someone who is an individual with their own unique traits and subsequently the task of learning may not always be easy.
Additionally, the teacher must clearly establish a routine for their students to encourage positive behavior and learning. Therefore, the commonly occurring procedures must be identified early, and placed into the routine of the students. As the students follow more routines, the more likely they are to increase their own personal expectations of learning and positive behavior through repeating and reconstructing those processes on a regular basis.
Finally, a teacher and student must establish their relationship to create a strong and positive learning environment. The relationship should promote trust and confidence in each person. Subsequently, the students will feel the teacher has their best interests at heart and will endeavor to teach the class to the best of their ability. Additionally, the teacher will feel comfortable with the class and take ownership of their learning process and encourage them to fulfil their potential.
In conclusion, teaching positive behavior is a complex process that requires a delicate balance of many different teaching principles. However, it is recommended a teacher should demonstrate good application of behavioral leadership to set the tone of behavior. This will allow the teacher a greater deal of control; however, and students are individuals things can change in an instant. Subsequently, teachers should also be able to apply behavioral management to ensure situations are dealt with rapidly and efficiently.
It is my opinion that neither behavioral leadership nor behavioral management is a greater method of encouraging positive behavior than the other. Each method has its own individual merits and will work to a degree on its own. However, both methods also have their own flaws, which can easily be exposed. For example behavioral leadership may fall apart should an unruly child unexpectedly encourage the rest of the class to display negative behavior. In contrast, behavioral management could lead to a great deal of stress on the teacher and the majority of the class should the teacher have to constantly react to situations as a result of poor preparation.
Therefore, it is essential that a teacher has the ability and flexibility to apply both behavioral leadership and behavioral management to their teaching experience. It is also important the teacher has the knowledge of when to apply a certain method of teaching, as the timing of the method is just as important as the knowledge of the method itself. This will allow the teacher to display a greater deal of control over the behavior of the class and lead to a richer learning experience for all involved.
Grigg,R (2010) Becoming an outstanding primary school teacher, Routledge, pg 333.
http://www.ehow.com/info_8009675_behavior-management-primary-schools.html#ixzz2z54JjTzk - Behaviour Management in Primary Schools
http://www.behaviour-learning.com/shop.php/category/id/112/the-three-rs-of-behaviour.html - The Three Rs of Behaviour
McLeod, S. A. (2007). Skinner - Operant Conditioning. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html
http://www.inspiringteachers.com/classroom_resources/articles/classroom_management_and_discipline/leadership_styles.html - Classroom Leadership Styles
http://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html - B.F Skinner
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