Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dissertation on Classroom Management

Dissertation on Classroom Management

Good classroom management is essential in a classroom. The way a teacher manages the classroom will effect the pupil’s behaviour and thus, will reflect on their work. Good management draws from a teacher’s craft, will reduce misbehaviour and teacher stress, and provide both teacher and pupils with a supportive and pleasant environment in which to work. In an influential report known as the Elton Report (Moritimore et al) it is defined that to promote good behaviour teachers must accentuate the positive and focus on people. In Llangoed, they adopted a form of behaviour policy that involves the whole school operating on a reward system that was to encourage good behaviour. For any outstanding work, that a pupil or group produced, they would then be awarded with a star which was then recorded on a score sheet displayed on the classroom wall. This form of reward system provided each class with an incentive to work well.

Each class would ‘crown’ a pupil who had gained the most stars at the end of the week, and in return for his/ her good behaviour will be allowed a treat or privilege. This system was operated at a shared understanding amongst the staff and pupils. Parents also co-operated, as they were kept well informed of their child’s progress in school. This system worked as a form of promoting good behaviour, and due to the way all parties involved co-operated. As a student teacher I quickly learnt that good classroom management, depends upon much more than just punishing bad behaviour.

Driving all attention away form bad behaviour and focusing on the good as practised in Llangoed is known as ‘Behaviour Modification’. Although it is a successful way of promoting good behaviour, carries many disadvantages and dangers. For example it has been proven such a successful and powerful technique of behaviour modification, that it can be used to modify behaviour in order to suit the teacher in question. Psychologists who criticise this method regard the reward system as a form of bribery. Successful modification might improve behaviour, but it may also help to conceal a cognitive or emotional problem, or cover up an impoverished curriculum.


As a teacher it is important to find the root of a problem, to find the cause of misbehaviour instead of assuming it is the fault of the pupil in question. Sometimes the fault can be found on the teacher as much as the pupil. I quickly learnt that motivation and enjoyment plays an enormous part in how a pupil will behave in a lesson. Making school interesting is essential. From my experience, if a pupil is not enjoying the lesson, they will become bored and restless, and then this boredom may fast become bad or disruptive behaviour. For example, pupil A was a hardworking pupil with above average attainment. When confronted with a challenging task, pupil A would go about his work in and complete the task without drawing attention to himself. I presented the class with some graph work, which revised past work already covered by a previous teacher. Pupil A had already grasped this work, and felt that he did not need to revise the work again. He was bored by the task, believing it was repetitive and unchallenging. As a result of his boredom, pupil A begun to misbehave by drawing attention to himself, talking whilst I was presenting the work, fidgeting and bothering other pupils. This became a regular occurrence throughout my teaching practice when pupil A found the work wasn’t enjoyable or challenging enough. Of course the same may happen if the work is too difficult for the pupil. This is a point made by Cohen et al. It is important to consider differentiation when preparing work in order to have stimulating challenging material for all different attainment levels in the class.

It is important to be clear and interesting in the classroom presentation, otherwise there is a risk of the pupil not listening, and consequently, will not understand work. Having been monitored on one occasion, I was advised to vary the pitch of my voice when talking to the class, to incorporate facial expressions, and to bring in some jokes to the lesson. I accepted this advice, and saw a dramatic change in the response from the pupils. I believe that by doing this I made the subject seem more interesting, and varying my voice and prevented minds from wondering to a more interesting subject. Again, this highlights a point made by Cohen et al, that motivation; praise and enjoyment play an important part in classroom management. I felt that praise was a very effective form of increasing motivation, not just in one pupil, but in their peers also. When a pupil knows that they have done well, they have more pride in their own work and want to beat their ‘personal best’. This may also bring out the competitive nature of their peers. It is important to recognise relative as well as absolute success. Each pupil is an individual, and I found that valuing the best work of each individual instead of the best work from the class as a whole, provided a great deal of intrinsic motivation.

I received some work from a pupil that was outstanding. I asked that pupil to read his work out for the rest of the class to hear. My reasons were twofold, in that I expected this to give the pupils motivation to work towards this standard, and also to give an example of the layout I expected. This also held another effect. The public recognition of good work made pupils work hard on the understanding that if their work reached a high standard they too will be able to read it back to the class. This increased their self-esteem, noted once again in Cohen et al. However the reverse of this would not work. To ask a pupil to read out a poor piece of work as an example of ‘how not to do it’ would insult the pupil and lead to humiliation, I expect this would have the reverse effect.

The environment in the classroom is extremely important. I found when if I felt nervous or apprehensive, it would reflect on the pupils’ performance. The best work was always produced when I was relaxed and confident with the material I was introducing to the class. Politeness with the pupils not only sets a good example, but also breeds a good working relationship amongst pupil and teacher, and also pupil and pupil. Remembering to say ‘please’ or ‘thank-you’ to a pupil goes a long way and encourages mutual respect. When the pupils know that they are valued, they will work to sustain high opinion the teacher holds. Being friendly and human and showing interest in the pupils’ lives help to develop a good relationship with each individual, something I found of enormous value.

Setting clear rules in the classroom is extremely important. I found it difficult to set rules in the classroom, as they sometimes clashed with those set by the class teacher. I found that some of the established class rules did not work for me, and when I tried to alter them it did not work. For example, when pupils had worked hard, they were permitted to work in the quiet room, which was situated some distance away from the classroom. Pupils expected the same rule to be in force when I was teaching. However, when pupils were not under my supervision, they tended to misbehave. This obviously was not the case for their class teacher, but posed a problem for me, as I was a student teacher who holds less authority. It is important to establish rules from the very onset; otherwise pupils tend to use this to their advantage, as they did with me.

The physical environment of the classroom will always have an effect on the way the pupils conduct themselves. I personally felt that there were too few tables in the classroom, and the pupils tended to be squashed together when working. This made the pupils feel clostophobic, and they often became frustrated with the lack of space. This disrupted the pupils when they were working. I also felt that the open plan on the classroom posed a problem for me. In the absence of having a door as a physical boundary, the children tended to wonder, and found it quite easy to leave the classroom when my attention was engaged with another pupil or activity. Of course, this also draws upon the importance of constant monitoring of behaviour as well as work, and also refraining form turning your back on a classroom of children. Peters defines this as being ‘Out there’ with the classroom instead of being ‘involved in their own musings’, something which I will carry with me on my next teaching practice.

I learnt valuable things at Ysgol Llangoed. With regards to misbehaviour, I quickly learnt that shouting at pupils who misbehave does not work. It would be naive of me to assume that a teacher should never raise his/her voice. But to keep ones voice at a high volume will encourage the pupils to mimic the volume, and the consequences will lead to uncontrollable noise. I discovered that merely making eye contact would have just as much of an effect to refocus the pupils’ attention. Some points outlined by Cohen et al help guide a teacher to deal with minor misbehaviour. The physical closeness of a teacher can have the same effect as eye contact. Asking the pupil if they have a question to ask will let them know that you have noticed they are not on task. Non verbal gestures speak volumes. Raising eyebrows, shaking the head, and clicking fingers will all draw the pupil’s attention, and make them aware that the teacher has noticed their misbehaviour. Whatsmore, these methods eliminate minor misbehaviour without disrupting the rest of the classroom.

The forms of behaviour management examined are known as positive discipline (Cohen et al). They rely on interpersonal skills and promote good behaviour instead of punishing bad. Punitive schools were found to promote poor behaviour (Galvin, Costa and Mercia). Providing children with a positive environment in which to work, and as already discussed, will have a direct effect on their behaviour, and education.

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