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By Elsa Andrew Hilarion


Going into a new class on the first day can be exciting and intimidating for new teachers and
experienced teacher alike. A successful first day can be a key component of a successful
quarter. It is an opportunity for a teacher to establish expectations, set the tone, and to get to
know the pupils. When they come to the first class, some of them will be eager to learn and
mingle with their friends while some may feel uneasy and afraid. Hence, it is very important
for teachers to create a positive classroom environment starting from the first day of schooling.
Teachers need to build a classroom environment where positive interactions are the norm and
punitive consequences are minimized. Research indicates that coercive or punitive
environments actually promote antisocial behaviour. This report will discuss further how Miss
Libby faced her pupils on the first day of schooling and created a positive classroom


This report is written to enable the readers to analyse how ground rules are established on
the first day of schooling based on a short video of Miss Libby and her pupils.


The information in this report is qualitatively gathered by watching a video retrieved from
www.youtube.com by focusing on the application of theories in classroom management used
by the teacher during the first day of schooling.


Based on the video watched, it was found that the teacher was able to use few theories and
methods in establishing the ground rules on the first day of schooling.


Emotional and verbal violence can be just as damaging as physical violence, although its
effects may not be visible. To combat violence in any form, Plucker (2000) in Manning and
Butcher (2007) recommends the use of respect and constructive communication. One way to
develop respect and communication is to create a positive school climate.
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When Miss Libbys pupils entered the class, she welcomed her pupils by standing at
the classroom door and greeted them at the beginning of the period. By doing so, she was
giving the pupils a sense of belonging so that they will feel safe in the classroom. At the same
time, it helped to ensure that the pupils enter the room in an orderly fashion. Knowing very
well that it was their first day of schooling, she let the parents stay until the parents are actually
comfortable that their children feel secure. Indirectly, she was able to form a good
interpersonal relationship with both parents and pupils.


Weinstein and Novodvorsky (2011) opined that establishing and enforcing clear norms or
routines for behaviour makes the classroom a safer, more predictable environment and
communicates that the teacher cares about her pupils well-being. With clear rules and
routines, there is less likelihood of confusion, misunderstanding and inconsistency. Thus,
there will be more likelihood that teachers and pupils can engage in a warm and relaxed

In order to manage the classroom effectively, it was observed that Miss Libby applied
Dreikurss Theories of Democratic Teaching and Skinners Behaviour Modification Theory
simultaneously. In this theory, Dreikurs believed that when teachers act in a democratic
fashion, they demonstrate effective instruction and provide a collaborative learning community
where teachers and pupils work toward common goals.

The implementation of Dreikurss Theory was vividly shown when Miss Libby treated
her pupils as individuals and with respect by allowing them to help make important class
decisions. In order to do that, she encourage their participation by involving them in making
class rules and asked what rules they want that will contribute to their positive behaviour and
academic success. Hence, by establishing rules in the classroom it provide positive classroom
where both teacher and pupils work toward a common purpose while developing a spirit of
trust and cooperation.


Wattenberg (1977) in Manning and Bucher (2007) opined that the proper use of
reinforcements has the potential to shape pupils behaviour. In order for the pupils to
practice the desirable behaviour, Laundrum and Kauffman (2006) opined that the most
effective way is to use reinforcements in class. The most important task to create a
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positive classroom environment is to create a caring, supportive and engaging

community in which the pupils frequently engage in desirable and constructive
behaviour which can be done by giving reinforcements as proposed in Skinners
Behavioural Modification Theory. Reinforcement can take many forms in a classroom.
For example, a teacher can reward pupils who complete their homework on time by
giving them each a token, prises or praises. Hence, according to Skinners theory the
pupils who behaving will continue to receive positive reinforcement while those who
misbehaved will desire the positive reinforcement and begin to behave in an
appropriate behaviour. Negative reinforcement on the other hand is the act of
removing something undesirable stimulate desired behaviour.

In the video reviewed, Skinners theory was vividly applied in order to ensure
the pupils to maintain positive classroom environment and behave as desired by the
teacher. Hence, she created a set of cards star, sun, rainbow and dark clouds.
Initially, pegs with her pupils name on it were clipped around the sun at the beginning
of the lesson. She gave a clear explanation on how the pupils should behave and told
them that whoever misbehave, their names will be clipped on the rainbow. If they still
behaviour worsen, their names will be clipped on the dark cloud. However, if they
behave as desired by the teacher and follow the class rules, their names will be clipped
on the star.

There was a time where the teacher used positive reinforcement when the
pupils were able to show the desired behaviour. She used praises such as Well done
and I am so pleased with you. The teacher also asked the pupils to give a pat on
their own backs as a motivation to continue behaving in class.


It is good that the teacher was able to teach the pupils to follow classroom procedures
and rules on their first day of schooling by explaining and discussing the rational of the
rules made. Hence, in order to ensure the pupils to follow the rules it is recommended
that she maintains her management system by actively monitoring her pupils
behaviour and work. She should always ensure positive classroom environment by
stopping inappropriate behaviour quickly and by using appropriate consequences in a
consistent manner.
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Another recommendation to maintain positive classroom environment is to

demonstrate the consequences if the pupils do not follow the rules set in the
classroom. Basically, the teacher only told the pupils that if they behave poorly their
names will be clipped either on the rainbow or a dark cloud. In a long run, they will
soon think that even if they misbehave the worst thing that will happen is to have their
name clipped there without receiving any feedback to correct their misbehaviour.
Therefore, the teacher might want to explore more on the way she gives reinforcement
or applying other methods and theories that may be suitable for the class. It is better
to try out other methods and theories to enable the teacher to handle any kind of
misbehaviours that may arise in the class.


Although there are various models and theories based on classroom management,
little evidence suggests that educators classroom management challenges will
decrease in the future. However, teachers have to understand the classroom
management theories and models and then select ideas that work for them and
develop a comprehensive classroom management plan. It is a must for teachers to
revise their management model continually to make classroom productive for learning
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EdChat TV. (2012, December 3). Bayley on Behaviour: Establishing the ground rules [Video
file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTbcMj7O2DI

Landrum, T. J., & Kauffman, J. M. (2006). Behavioral approaches to classroom

management. In C. M. Evertson & C. S. Weinstein (Eds.), Handbook of
classroom management: Research, practice, and contemporary issues (pp. 7
71). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Manning, M. L, & Bucher, K. T. (2007). Classroom Management: Models, Applications,

and Cases (2nd ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Wattenberg, W. (1977). The ecology of classroom behaviour. Theory into Practice,

16(4), 256- 261. In Manning, M. L, & Bucher, K. T. (2007). Classroom
Management: Models, Applications, and Cases (2nd ed.). New Jersey: Pearson
Prentice Hall.

Weinstein, C. S., & Novodvorsky, I. (2011). Middle and Secondary Classroom

Management (4th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.
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Teachers play various roles in a typical classroom but surely one of the most important
thing is to ensure effective teaching and learning is able to take place. In order to do so, a
teacher must have sound knowledge on classroom management which consists of strategies
for assuring physical and psychological safety in the classroom, techniques for changing
pupils misbehaviours and for teaching self-discipline, methods of assuring an orderly
progression of events during the day and instructional techniques that contribute to pupils
positive behaviour (Manning & Bucher, 2007). This essay will discuss further how the
knowledge and experience gained in learning Classroom Management can help Malaysian
Primary ESL teachers to manage their class effectively.

Malaysia is blessed for being a multi-cultural country with people of different ethnics
and religions living together in peace. Knowing the fact very well, all teachers must be well-
versed with the term student diversity. Diversity can be defined as the differences among
pupils that teachers must consider as they develop appropriate classroom management
strategies. These differences include cultural, gender, social class, linguistic and
developmental differences. Hence, it is very important to acknowledge the diversity among
pupils and give equal treatment without being bias so that positive classroom environment can
be cultivated and fulfilled the lowest level of need which is sense of belonging as proposed in
Maslows Hierarchy of Needs. If they fee intimidated and not safe, it will only hinder the
learning process and leads to low academic achievement.

Hiew (2012) in a journal raised the issues in teaching and learning English as a second
language in Malaysia and identified 65 out of 72 respondents (ESL learners) have problems
in practicing the language. 18 respondents felt hesitated to speak English with their teachers
and friends in and/or outside the classroom. This is because they were worried about making
grammatical mistakes, felt embarrassed of their low language proficiency and had also
received negative response (smirk) from others. As a result, they withdrew themselves from
the lesson. In order to overcome this problem, some of the theories and models in managing
classroom are actually applicable. The teacher should first identify the reason for their
withdrawal and try to address their mistaken goals by applying Dreikurss democratic teaching
and management. The learners who harbour feelings of hopelessness and inferiority might be
focused on the goal of inadequacy. Hence, the teacher will then be able to deliberate actions
to address their feelings of inadequacy. According to Dreikurs model, teachers should use
more encouragement to boost their confidence and self-esteem in order to feel them with this
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Another problem faced by primary ESL teachers in Malaysia is to get the low
proficiency pupils to engage in the lesson. Pupils who are not well-versed or cannot
comprehend English may have a high tendency to lose focus and start to disturb their friends
and the teaching and learning process. In order to avoid this, teachers may apply Skinners
Behaviour Modification model to control the class. According to this model, it is believed that
pupils behaviour can be shaped by providing a reinforcing stimulus just after desired
behaviour happens. For example, if that particular pupil is willing to engage in the lesson and
responds to the teacher he will be rewarded a star as an extrinsic motivation to repeat the
desired behaviour. Other than that, the teacher may plan activities involving group work so
that high proficiency pupils can assist their peers while completing the activities given.
However, in order to make the activity a success the teacher should first establish caring and
mutual respect with the goal of creating a climate that is nurturing to self-esteem and academic
performance among the pupils. It is very important to have good teacher-pupils relationship
so that it will be easier for the teacher to gain the pupils trust.

As such, the knowledge in Classroom Management is vital for Malaysian Primary ESL
teachers to manage their class effectively. However, teachers should bear in mind that the
models or theories learnt in managing classroom may not necessarily able to curb any
misbehaviours in class as one size does not fit all. It is up to the teachers to try out all the
theories or models and judge which theories work best.
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Hiew, W. (2012). English Language Teaching And Learning Issues In Malaysia: Learners
Perceptions Via Facebook Dialogue Journal, 3(1), 11-19. Retrieved from

Manning, M. L, & Bucher, K. T. (2007). Classroom Management: Models, Applications,

and Cases (2nd ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Weinstein, C. S., & Novodvorsky, I. (2011). Middle and Secondary Classroom

Management (4th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.