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Name: Keegan Doherty

Student Number: S00153812

Date: 29/08/2014

EDFD220 Teaching and Managing Learning Environments


Assessment Task 2 Critical Essay
What approaches to managing student behaviour are most effective in providing an environment
that allows for learning to flourish? Discuss.
Behaviour management is best described as the tension between student freedom and classroom
discipline (Palmer, (2007)). How a teacher is able to regulate and preside student behaviour not
only demonstrates the effectiveness of the teacher in being able to create a safe, deep learning
environment, but also defines their personification within the classroom amongst students.
Classroom management has many theories surrounding the most effective ways to promote student
learning and responding to student misbehaviour. However, when it comes to these theories, the
binary opposites of discipline and positive reinforcement are constantly conflicting to question what
methods of student behavioural management are most resultant in creating powerful learning
experiences in the classroom setting. The writer contends that the foundations of a developmentally
responsive classroom, rely solely on the teachers ability to manage student behaviour appropriately
in regard to the individual, through the application of many behavioural strategies rather than one
method of intervention applied to the whole class.
Classroom management is a term that incorporates all of the aspects of the classroom, which
promote student learning (Casa, (2011)). It includes teaching instructional practices, classroom
expectations and rules, cognitive development of students and communication within the school
community surroundings. Overall behavioural management is a process and practice of which the
teacher utilises in order to oversee operations within the classroom. There have been numerous
studies that investigate the different approaches towards behaviour management practices.
Broomfield (2006) asserts that student teachers see the need to be in control of the classroom as
they perceive control or dominance as effective behavioural management. To be in control of a
classroom however contrast conversely with the word discipline in regards to maintaining an
acceptable level of behavioural expectations within the classroom. This may seem like an effective
strategy, yet Glasser (1986) exemplifies that the main reason for student misbehaviour is a want for
power or social dominance within the classroom setting. Acts such as not following the set
instructional practices by the teacher, disobeying everyday routine structures, or avoiding
schoolwork are all methods that students undertake in order to gain attention and create
disruptions of learning in class. Cope et al. (2005) extends on these findings by explaining often
students that misbehave through acts of resilience to cover the fact they cannot perform the
schoolwork set in class. This could due to a range of reasons including an individuals learning
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Name: Keegan Doherty

Student Number: S00153812

Date: 29/08/2014

difficulty, an inability or disability, and also due to the level of support the child receives at home
performing homework task. Hence, Bloomfields (2006) assertions of student teachers needing to
be in control of the classroom, may not be the most effective way in managing classroom
behaviour as evidence suggest the reasons why these individuals are resilient could be due to a lack
of knowledge or a personal learning need. The writer argues that behavioural management only by
discipline or control, can further lower the self-efficacy of resilient students. For example, the
reason why these students may be misbehaving could be due to learning difficulties, a disability or
an inabilities to follow set task.
Juxtaposing preventative strategies of classroom management, Tulley and Chiu (1995) have found
that the most effective methods of behavioural management address a more humanistic approach
rather than that of control and discipline. Praising, providing positive feedback or reinforcement to
students, are all believed to promote student development in relation to the current learning
standard of the child. This does not mean a student that has received positive feedback from the
teacher will act abiding by the attitudes of other well-behaved students, but be more open and
susceptible to changing their conduct in the classroom. This coincides with Marsh (2008) emphasis
on the need of a teacher that demonstrates warmth and humanity in the classroom environment to
constitute for good teaching. Humanistic approaches aim to not only tell a student they have
misbehaved, but explain to the student as to what they have specifically done to behave
inappropriately. Casa (2011) exemplifies this through the situation of a teacher telling a child
chewing gum that it is not allowed on the school grounds. However, if the teacher asked the child
why students should not be chewing gum at school, many would not be able to answer. Hence,
explaining to the child the risk involved in the consumption of chewing gum, such as it being a
choking hazard if swallowed, the student will know why they shouldnt be chewing gum rather than
simply being told not to chew it. This is great example of how effective communication between the
teacher and students can follow a more caring, humanistic approach towards the management of
behaviour. Savage (1999) agrees that in order for teachers to provide a deeper learning experience
for students through effective behaviour management skills, one must be caring to respect students
and to earn the respect of students. A caring approach includes being open and honest to student
about rules and the expectations of the teacher, as well as putting ones trust in the students. The
establishment of classroom rules and regulations assist students in being more independent and
encourages less reliance on the teacher by minimizing classroom disruptions.
Many theories surrounding behaviour management establish the need for clear classroom routines,
rules, teacher expectations and classroom organisation. Teachers must understand how each of
these variables interacts with one another in a constant interplay of events. It is how a teacher
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Name: Keegan Doherty

Student Number: S00153812

Date: 29/08/2014

reacts to abnormalities in these variables that determines their personification of behavioural


management in the classroom (Bosh, (2006)). Teachers should be stating the rules and expectations
explicitly to all students in order to establish the correct attitudes and acceptable manner of act
within the classroom. Casa (2011) claims that set routines, such as reading the role at the beginning
of the day, gathering children on the floor and planned seating arrangements, assist in providing
deeper learning experiences for students through developing a sense of belonging in the class.
However, these routines are only useful in whole-class task and difficulties arise if a teacher wants to
focus only on a particular students attitude or behaviour. When addressing individual students
regarding their behavioural conduct in class, teachers are to abide by the set classroom standards to
enforce the rules and hold students accountable for their actions (Casa, (2011)). This suggest that all
students are to be treated equally when being either praised or criticised for ones actions.
Managing student behaviour should be attended to timely and still relevant to the specific act of
misconduct. Musti-Roa and Haydon (2011) explain that Behaviour-Specific Praise (BSP) is a
strategy that teachers use decrease disruptive behaviours and assist in creating a positive learning
environment. Musti-Roa and Haydon state that Teacher praise is an affirmative statement delivered
by the teacher immediately following the completion of a specified academic or social behaviour
((2011), pp3). This means that rather than utilising prevention strategies for behaviour management
such as reactionary measures and office referrals, the teacher commends positive student conduct
to improve overall student behaviour. These BSP strategies used effectively have been proven to
build individual self-efficacy levels, improve social skills and build student teacher relationships. All
of these factors contribute to the foundations of creating a safe environment that allows for learning
to strive. However, the writer exclaims BSP strategies are not always the most effective way to
manage student misbehaviour as they do not tend to student misbehaviour to any extent, but rather
commend well-behaving students for others to realise the behavioural expectation of the teacher.
According to Alber and Heward (2000) the primary reason teachers utilise preventative strategies of
behavioural management is because these methods result in an immediate corrective response from
student conduct.
Teachers need to create an environment that generates curiosity with a high emphasis on student
learning and wellbeing. Bennett and Smilanich (2008) identify that students not actively involved in
classroom task, are more likely to misbehave. Studies suggest that effective behavioural
management can be achieved as a result of stimulating a childs senses (Shelton, F., & Brownhill, S.,
(2008). Through using an individual and a class known interest, such as a boy liking dinosaurs or
teaching a class that love soccer, the teacher can gain student attention to lower the possibilities of
misbehaviour. Further, this lowers the possibility of the teacher needing to use negative
3

Name: Keegan Doherty

Student Number: S00153812

Date: 29/08/2014

reinforcement as more students will be determined to participate in the lesson. Although this is not
to say that preventative strategies are not useful in the management of classroom conduct. Lee and
Croninger (1996) interpret that higher levels of misbehaviour and lower academic achievement are
the direct result of the teacher displaying a lack of authority or leniency in the classroom.
Preventative strategies may be considered to be behavioural management approaches that limit
student freedom and send a direct message to students in a reactionary measure. These include
methods such as directly scolding a student for an act of misconduct, limiting recess time and Zero
Tolerance policies of the school. Some researchers have suggested that the use of negative
disciplinary methods to behavioural management, specifically Zero Tolerance policies, can lead to
factors such as alienation and opposition, induce aggression and reduce the likelihood of graduating
from high school (Way, (2003)). The writer contends these arguments for effective behavioural
management limit the opportunity to create an open learning environment as they do not cater for
the needs of all students, particularly those that may have learning difficulties or disabilities.
The writer agrees there is no evidence to support a best approach of managing behaviour that
assist in providing a prosperous learning environment within the classroom. Furthermore, the most
effective behavioural management methods lie in the teachers knowledge of their students as
individuals, rather than the one strategy of intervention applied to the class as a whole. This means
that it is not one, but a combination of behavioural modification methods that are needed to be
applied to provide for a developmentally sound learning environment. Bloomsfield (2006) statement
of student teachers seeing the need to be in control of the classroom, is an effective preventative
or disciplinary strategy to correct student misconduct. Moreover, disciplinary and preventative
consequences to classroom misbehaviour are useful in producing immediate corrective mannerisms
from students (Alber and Heward, (2000)). These methods include principle referrals, exclusions
from activities and loss of student privileges. However, these strategies are not appropriate to all
cases, as demonstrated by Bennett and Smilanich (2008) findings that children not involved within
classroom task, are more likely to misbehave. By limiting student participating due to misconduct,
this evidence suggest that there is a higher possibility of students to continue to misbehave. For this
reason, the arguments of Musti-Roa and Haydon (2011) and Tully and Chiu (1995) contend that a
humanistic approach and use of Behaviour-Specific Praise (BSP) are methods that allow students
to be more independent in terms of their own conduct in class. The use of BSP in class compliments
students that have a positive attitude or are well-behaved in class for other students to see this as
an example to follow. Although, overuse of BSPs can result in students constantly seeking approval
from the teacher, further raising the chances of student misbehaviour and lowering classroom
productivity. Hence, the writer affirms that in order to achieve an effective learning environment for
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Name: Keegan Doherty

Student Number: S00153812

Date: 29/08/2014

students, behavioural management strategies will vary throughout situations and differing students.
For example, a teacher may use a humanistic approach to approach a child that has learning
difficulties as a preventative strategy may lower the individuals self-efficacy. Whereas, if there was
an extremely serious act of misconduct, such as a child constantly bullying others, a teacher may
apply negative reinforcement or a preventative strategy followed by a humanistic approach. This
would ensure that there is immediate corrective response from the student, but also an explanation
as to what the student was specifically doing wrong according to classroom expectations.
In conclusion, behavioural management is the constant balance between the factors of student
freedom and classroom discipline (Palmer, (2007)). The writer contends that behavioural
management strategies that are most powerful in providing a developmentally sound learning
environment are reliant on the teachers ability to vary methods of management dependent on the
student and the misconduct. There are many strategies that aim to prevent, limit or ensure the
correct level of conduct and expectations are achieved within the classroom setting. Overall the use
of disciplinary methods of behavioural management are effective in providing an immediate
corrective reaction from students, however are not substantial as they lack depth in explaining to
the student the specific act that has been considered misconduct. Humanistic approaches towards
managing classroom conduct are more practical and powerful in providing a learning experience for
students though positive reinforcement, use of BSPs and in depth explanation to promote the
expected level of behaviour within the classroom. Although, a humanistic approach does not see an
immediate corrective response from students and can also lead to students constantly seeking
teacher approval. In future to maintain effective behavioural management strategies need to be
expanded by developing a deeper understanding of resilience and risk factors in children within the
schooling environment.

Name: Keegan Doherty

Student Number: S00153812

Date: 29/08/2014

References:
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Name: Keegan Doherty

Student Number: S00153812

Date: 29/08/2014

Musti-Rao, S. & Haydon, T. (2011). Strategies to Increase Behaviour-Specific Teacher Praise


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