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A Handbook on -

Promoting a Positive
Learning Environment

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Contents
Introduction
A positive learning environment - what is it?
- what are the benefits?
Theorists & their theories.
Preventative, Supportive or Corrective?

Preventative Actions
Maintaining and motivating attention.

Supportive Actions
Minimising management problems.

Corrective Actions
Responding to misbehaviour problems.

Conclusion
References
Appendices

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Introduction
The fundamental role of a teacher is to educate their students. This responsibility
however, is perhaps one of the most challenging encountered in any profession. One
must be equipped with an array of strategies to best manage variations within the
learning environment, derived from the diversity of the students taught and the
nuances of any given classroom. This handbook has been created to assist teachers
in creating and maintaining a positive learning environment.

A positive learning environment enhances the learning of the student and thus
maximises success as defined by the curriculum outcomes. A positive learning
environment needs to Be safe and comfortable
Be important and meaningful that includes short- and long-term
goals
Be interesting and challenging, but realistically achievable
Involve independent and collaborative work
Value students efforts
Require students to be responsible for their own behaviour
(Killen, 2006)

The benefits of a positive learning environment are near endless and all contribute
to enhanced student learning. A positive learning environment is: free from
distraction, provides students with clear expectations about behaviour and learning
goals, diverse in style to best match variation in student learning needs, supportive,
engaging, inspiring, an environment where students do not hesitate to seek help,
and one where the teacher is inspired to be the best teacher they can be.

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There are many significant theories relevant to promoting a positive learning


environment. The following is a short overview on the theorists referred to within
this handbook.

C. M. Charles -

Charles developed the concept of the three major behavioural


management strategies around which this handbook revolves:
preventative, supportive and corrective.

H. E. Gardner -

Developed the theory of Multiple Intelligences which


recognises the diversity of intelligences possessed by students
in an effort to better match the provision of learning aids to
their preferred learning mode(s). APPENDIX 1.

A. H. Maslow -

Creator of the Hierarchy of Needs, a theory which prioritises


innate human needs that can only be progressed through
sequentially. According to Maslows theory, needs of primitive,
physiological significance must be met first before those of
higher order. APPENDIX 2.

R. Dreikurs -

Dreikurs identified four main, self-derived causes for


misbehaviour in students. He also provided distinction
between praise and encouragement and between punishment
and logical consequence. APPENDIX 3.

J. S. Kounin -

An educational theorist who proposed five key characteristics


of a good teacher and their impact on early intervention in
behaviour management. With-it-ness, overlapping,
momentum, smoothness, group focus. APPENDIX 4.

W. A. Rogers -

Rogers is an educational consultant who has developed five


principles fundamental to a classroom management. He also
proposes a four stage hierarchy when dealing with behavioural
issues. APPENDIX 5.

J. Levin & J. F. Nolan - Proposed a tri-level Hierarchy of Intervention that parallels


Charles three behaviour management strategies. The
hierarchy is structured from strategies of minimal
confrontation and disruption to those of greatest. APPENDIX 6.

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Skinners theory of behavioural management proposes that


behaviour is a function of consequence, be the consequence
positive or negative. The use of systematic consequence can
be used to affect student behaviour. APPENDIX 7.

L. S. Vygotsky -

Developed the concept of the Zone of Proximal Development


or ZPD, the area within which a student is only capable with
assistance. Below this zone the student is fully capable of a
task while beyond the zone the student is incapable,
regardless of assistance. APPENDIX 8.

T. Gordon -

Gordons theory revolves around a clear understanding of the


problem and transparent communication between the student
and teacher in a non-judgmental fashion. The use of directive
I-messages and relationship building through cooperation are
key aspects of Gordons theory. APPENDIX 9.

Preventive, Supportive or Corrective Actions?


To be a proficient teacher, a sound knowledge of different behaviour management
strategies and when to apply them is crucial. Preventative, supportive and corrective
actions have been defined by Charles (2002) and should be viewed as an action
hierarchy. That is, having sound preventative strategies in place will often eliminate
the need for supportive action, while using sound supportive strategies when
required should reduce the need for corrective action. The following three sections
of the handbook elaborate on each of these three strategies.

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Preventative Actions
A class that is managed on a foundation of preventative strategies will reduce the
frequency of behavioural issues. This will often negate the need of more disruptive
actions such as punishment. The following are tools and tips for creating and
maintaining a positive learning environment.

Be organised (1). Anything that can be done before the students arrive
should be. Time spent focussing on anything other than the students can
invite attention seeking misbehaviour, while also losing one of Kounins key
parameters: momentum.

A comfortable room, conducive to learning (2). A classroom that is cold/hot,


windy, noisy etc. fails to satisfy Maslows Hierarchy of Needs and this will
adversely affect student learning. External distractions need to be minimised
to reduce the likelihood of students going off-task.

Appropriate room dcor (3). Graffiti may be distracting to students and


conversely, topic relevant dcor such as photos of animals, plants and fungi
in a biology class may inspire students. Those identified as visual/spatial
learners under Gardners Multiple Intelligences may benefit greatly from this.

Commence lessons promptly (4). Waiting for students to settle affords their
minds the opportunity to drift, becoming distracted and/or bored. It may also
be taken as a chance to seize power by a student(s), a key motivator of
misbehaviour identified by Dreikurs.

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Clear and fair class rules (5). It is important that students know what is
expected of them at all times. Equally important is that the teacher acts as
they should. This fosters a positive relationship of trust between the two as
highlighted by Gordons theory. Without clear rules and routines, a student
may feel helpless, another motivator of misbehaviour identified by Dreikurs.

Sound time management (6). Two characteristics of a good teacher, as


defined by Kounin, are Momentum and Smoothness. A well planned lesson
will eliminate dead-time and allow the teacher to move from section to
section with ease.

Teacher positioning (7). A teacher should position themselves such that they
are able to observe as much of the class as possible while also making it easy
for the students to see and hear them. It is important not to be stagnant
however, and moving closer to certain students periodically may keep them
on-task which Levin and Nolan describe as Proximity Interference. Minimising
the time a teachers back is turned to the students is another important
aspect of positioning. Good teacher positioning firmly indicates withitness,
Kounins first characteristic of good teaching.

Speaking rules (8). A right to communicate falls under Rogers first principle.
Students must feel free to express themselves but in a respectful and ordered
manner. Hand-raising is a common technique for controlling class speaking.

Recognise correct behaviour (9). Attention seeking students will often cease
misbehaving if it fails to get attention while those on-task do receive it.
Maslow defines esteem as being a prerequisite need before the cognitive
need of learning and praise can help build student confidence. Dreikurs
recognises a distinction between praise and encouragement, preferring the
latter but acknowledging the merit in both.
Compassion (10). Students recognise when a teacher cares about them and
this satisfies a fundamental need in Maslows hierarchy: love and

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belongingness. Compassion is critical for managing students inclined to


chronic misbehaviour.

Differentiated teaching (11). Students abilities vary greatly and a good


teacher is responsive to this. Advanced students who complete tasks early
and are not provided further material cannot overlap, a key trait of good
teaching described by Kounin. Conversely, struggling students may be more
inclined to misbehave as they possess Dreikurs fourth motivator:
helplessness and inadequacy.

Matched styles (12). Gardner recognises the different intelligences and it is


crucial the teacher identifies these in their students such that they can
provide appropriately matched learning materials and methods.

Case Studies.
Amy Alexander is a teacher at Pimlico School in
London. The school is one of the more
challenging regarding misbehaviour. Amy
employs many of the preventative actions
described above: 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. There is
http://www.schoolsworld.tv/node/273

evidence for other actions but those listed are


most prominent.

Andy Bell teaches at Meadows School, Lincoln.


This clip looks at building the foundations for a
positive learning environment by focusing on
actions 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10. This screenshot shows
Andy setting the acceptable noise level for the
http://www.schoolsworld.tv/node/2973

activity, making expectations clear to students.

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Supportive Actions
Supportive actions are used to quickly and efficiently respond to minor
misbehaviour. This prevents the situation from escalating to the point where
corrective actions are required. Charles (2002) says that Despite your best efforts,
students will at times become restive and can slip into misbehaviour. This is the time
for you to use supportive techniques, which are pleasant yet effective in keeping
students engaged in their work. Supportive actions are usually as discrete and nonconfrontational as possible and give students the opportunity to return to task
without retribution.

Proximity interference (13). A teacher can position themselves close to


misbehaving students and their presence may improve student behaviour.
This is an extension of preventative action 7, where a teacher pre-emptively
positions themselves, whereas in the supportive action the teacher is
responding to misbehaviour. This falls within level one of Levin and Nolans
hierarchy.

Planned ignoring (14). Another of Levin and Nolans level one actions.
Ignoring the misbehaviour of attention seeking students (a Dreikurs
motivator) may reduce the level or frequency of misbehaviour.

Instructional cues (15). Using routine cues that students are familiar with can
help refocus students as they know what is expected of them upon use of the
cue. These can be verbal or non-verbal, such as a raised hand or saying eyes
up. Rogers strongly advocates structure in the classroom and routine cues
assist in building that structure.

Name dropping (16). The use of a students name quickly grabs their
attention and reminds them the teacher is aware of their behaviour. Not
directly addressing the misbehaviour gives the student an opportunity to
rectify it with reduced embarrassment or threat of punishment. This action

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also allows the teacher to deal with the behaviour without interrupting the
flow of the lesson.

Question posing (17). Asking a question of a misbehaving student


immediately returns their focus to the topic at hand. Caution should be used
with this action though, as Maslow recognises the importance of esteem and
we should not seek to embarrass students by highlighting a lack of
knowledge.

Acknowledge another students correct behaviour (18). Similar to action 9,


except used in response to a specific misbehaviour. The needs of attention
seekers have been discussed previously and the same rationale applies here.

Alternative challenge (19). A student who misbehaves as a result of having


completed the task or being incapable of doing so may benefit from being
provided an alternative task. This may extend or reinforce the topic being
taught and using Gardners Multiple Intelligences to appropriately assign the
alternative task can optimise student learning.

Remove misbehaviour stimuli (20). Preventative actions eliminate


misbehaviour stimuli (2) before students enter a class but they cannot
preclude those introduced by the students. Phones, stationary and personal
effects are just some of the things that may distract students in class. Action
5 should reduce the impact of such distractions but a supportive approach
gives the student the opportunity to return to task should a disruption occur.
Note: if the teacher chooses to remove the stimuli without giving the student
a chance to do so this becomes a corrective action.

Reminders (21). Restating expectations allow teachers to refocus students on


appropriate standards for both behaviour and learning outcomes. It should

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be done in a non-threatening manner that doesnt evoke rebellion, which is


akin to Dreikurs third motivator: revenge.

Humour (22). Levin and Nolan identify humour as a level two action in
addressing misbehaviour. Humour improves the relationship and respect
between teacher and student, an important facet of Gordons theory, but
may crossover to encouragement of the misbehaviour if not used with care.

Case Studies.
Nicola Lamb teaches maths at Moulton School,
Northamptonshire. In a year 10 class she has
difficulty with a pair of girls being disruption
and attention seeking. Nicola uses supportive
actions 13, 14, 16, 17, 18 and 21 in addition to
http://www.schoolsworld.tv/node/126

her preventative actions. Her main focus


becomes rewarding good behaviour with
attention and building relationships with her
students by sharing personal information about
her wedding which fosters respect.

Jane Wright is a part time French teacher at


Drayton School in Oxfordshire. In dealing with
misbehaving students she employs actions 13,
14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21. The main shifts in Janes
techniques revolve around planned ignoring
http://www.schoolsworld.tv/node/1044

and praise which gets a vastly improved output


from her attention seeking students.

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Corrective Actions
Corrective actions are used for misbehaviours of a more significant nature. They
should only be used after sound preventative and supportive strategies have failed
to adequately address the situation. Corrective actions impose a consequence on the
misbehaving student(s) and Dreikurs highlights the importance of distinguishing
between punishment and logical consequence.

Student relocation (23). A common practise for teachers to deal with overly
disruptive students is to move them. This may be to somewhere else within
the class, the separation of two or more students, or removal from the class
entirely. Relocation within the classroom or separation of students works by
removing the stimuli, be it an object or classmate, and is at the lower end of
corrective management. Relocation from the class entirely is a more severe
action and often paired with other corrective actions i.e. involvement of
Principal and/or parents, suspension etc.

Directive I-message (24). A term posed by Gordon that involves a description


of the behaviour, its impacts on the students and teacher, and recognition of
how that makes the students and teacher feel. This action increases student
comprehension of why the behaviour is inappropriate.

You have a choice (25). Levin and Nolan outline this action in their third,
and most confrontational, level of intervention hierarchy. The teacher makes
it clear that the behaviour will cease or there will be consequences. The
student is given the opportunity to make the right decision and understands
the implications if they do not.

Unequivocal redirection (26). The student is given a direct command and the
teacher is resolute in compliance with the command. Student rebuttal is met

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with restating of the command highlighted by Levin and Nolans hierarchy, as


per Cantors Broken Record theory.

Parent/Carer involvement (27). A teachers ability to act upon a students


behaviour is largely confined to the classroom but a thorough management
strategy should not have this limitation. Parents/carers may hold key
information regarding a students behaviour and allow the root of the
problem to be unlocked. Providing a 24-7 support network to the student
may help correct the issues at hand.

General school policy (28). Schools may possess various standard policies for
specific behavioural violations and teachers should implement these when
appropriate. It may be a simple as littering entails a lunch duty of yard cleanup, a logical consequence as described by Dreikurs, or attending school not in
uniform results in the parents being notified.

Behaviour management plan (29). In more serious cases of misbehaviour, a


student may be placed on a tailored behaviour management plan. This would
usually incorporate actions 27 and 28 as well as other school personal such as
the Principal.

Removal of privileges (30). Students may have their privileges removed for
actions of misbehaviour. Such privileges include the right to partake in sports
teams, or perhaps to wear casual clothes on a casual day. Removing these
privileges should not restrict the students ability to learn and are best
delivered as a choice as per action 25.

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Case Studies.
Ben Nelson is an inexperienced design and
technology teacher at Millbrook Academy
(formerly Brockworth Enterprise School) in
Gloucestershire. Bens inexperience is evident
in his preference to operate using supportive
http://www.schoolsworld.tv/node/1265

and corrective actions, with particular reliance


on the schools disciplinary code. Ben uses
variants of actions 25, 26, 28 but does so
poorly. Ben initially lacks most of the
preventative actions outlined in this handbook
but, with direction, improves his strategies.

Jenny Campbell teaches science at Holyhead


Secondary School, Birmingham. Jenny uses
corrective actions 25, 26, 30 to address
disruptions in the class. 30 is presented as a
choice after strategies have failed including 13,
http://www.schoolsworld.tv/node/1752

16, 17, 20, 21. A better foundation of


preventative actions, particularly the use of
praise and planned ignoring, could greatly
improve Jennys teaching.

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Conclusion
To be a proficient teacher and promote a positive learning environment, it is necessary to
have a sound comprehension in the application of preventative, supportive and corrective
strategies. No two classes are the same there is no single strategy that optimises the
learning environment. The classroom is a fluid dynamic and the teacher must be quick to
respond to changes in student behaviour. A foundation of good, preventative strategy will
reduce the need for supportive and corrective means, but it will not eliminate it.

This handbook provides a quick guide to many tools of behaviour management, however it
should be noted that many more exist and greater detail may be found in the appendices
and their parent resources.
Word Count- 2,960

References
Website: http://amfreund.info/2012/02/08/infographic-multiple-intelligences-2/
Accessed 13/04/2016.

Charles, C.M. (2002), Building Classroom Discipline. 7th Edition, Pearson Education, New
Jersey.

Website:
http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/discipline/english/pro
flearn/Pages/velszopds56.aspx
Accessed 13/04/2016.

Gordon, T. (2003), Teacher effectiveness training. 1st Revised Edition, Three River Press, New
York.

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Killen, R. (2006), Effective Teaching Strategies: Lessons from Research and Practice. 4th
Edition, Thomson Social Science Press, South Melbourne.

Kounin, J. S. (1977), Discipline and Group Management in Classrooms, Robert E. Krieger


Publishing Company, New York.

Levin, J. and Nolan, J. F. (2005), What every teacher should know about classroom
management. Pearson Education Inc., Pennsylvania.

Website: http://www.researchhistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/maslowshierarchy-of-needs.gif
Accessed 13/04/2016.

Website: http://www.schoolsworld.tv/node/273
Accessed 13/04/2016.

Website: http://www.schoolsworld.tv/node/2973
Accessed 13/04/2016.

Website: http://www.schoolsworld.tv/node/126
Accessed 13/04/2016.

Website: http://www.schoolsworld.tv/node/1044
Accessed 13/04/2016.

Website: http://www.schoolsworld.tv/node/1265
Accessed 13/04/2016.

Website: http://www.schoolsworld.tv/node/1752
Accessed 13/04/2016.

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Website: http://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html
Accessed 13/04/2016.

Website: http://tlweb.latrobe.edu.au/education/learning-materials/Classroommanagement-general/Models/models-theories040.html
Accessed 13/04/2016.

Website:
http://users.metu.edu.tr/e133376/project/The%20Social%20Discipline%20Model%20of%20
Rudolf%20Dreikurs.htm
Accessed 13/04/2016.

Website:
https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Classroom_Management_Theorists_and_Theories/Jacob_Ko
unin
Accessed 13/04/2016.

Website:
https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Classroom_Management_Theorists_and_Theories/Thomas_
Gordon
Accessed 13/04/2016.

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Appendices
APPENDIX 1- Gardners Multiple Intelligences.

Source: http://amfreund.info/2012/02/08/infographic-multiple-intelligences-2/
Accessed 13/04/2016.

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APPENDIX 2- Maslows Hierarchy of Needs.

Source: http://www.researchhistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/maslowshierarchy-of-needs.gif
Accessed 13/04/2016

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APPENDIX 3- Dreikurs Social Discipline Model.

THE SOCIAL DISCIPLINE MODEL OF RUDOLF DREIKURS


Dreikurs identified four types of goals that motivates childrens
misbehaviors:
1) Attention getting
2) Power and control
3) Revenge
4) Helplessness or inadequacy

Praise VERSUS Encouragement


Praise

Encouragement

1) Praise is a reward given for a

1) Encouragement is an acknowledgement

completed achievement

of an effort

2) Praise tells students they have

2) Encouragement helps students evaluate

satisfied the demands of others

their own performance

3) Praise is patronizing. The person

3) Encouragement is a message between

who praises has a superior position.

equals.

4) Praise stimulates competition

4) Encouragement stimulates cooperation

5) Praise stimulates selfishness

5) Encouragement stimulates helpfulness

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Punishment VERSUS Logical Consequence - Examples

If a student writes on the walls of the school,


The teacher may keep her after school (punishment)
The teacher may ask the student to clean the walls (logical consequence)
If a student damages classroom materials,
The teacher may send a note to the students parents (punishment)
The teacher may prevent the students use of classroom materials until he
chooses to use them properly (logical consequence)
If a student is late for the class,
The teacher may keep her after school (punishment)
The teacher may ask the student to wait at the door until she receives a signal
that her late arrival will no longer disturb the class (logical consequence)

Source:
http://users.metu.edu.tr/e133376/project/The%20Social%20Discipline%20Model%20of%
20Rudolf%20Dreikurs.htm
Accessed 13/04/2016.

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APPENDIX 4- Kounins Five Characteristics of Good Teaching.


The Five Main points of Kounin's work are:
1. "with-it-ness"
2. overlapping
3. momentum
4. smoothness
5. group focus

"With-it-ness"
The teacher is responsible for inhibiting poor behavior. The teacher can maintain this strategy by
making eye contact to all students at all times. The teacher should know each student on a
personal basis (i.e. name, interests, strength, weaknesses, etc.) The teacher can use other nonverbal techniques to show students that they are alert and care about the well-being of all
students. The teacher may also want to make a respectable suggestion to inform the student that
their behavior is unacceptable. The teacher should have communicated to all students the
expectations and can have these displayed so everyone can be "with-it".

Overlapping
The teacher can have procedures that will allow the teacher to be effective when two situations
occur at the same time. For example, if a student is done with an assessment or an assignment
early have something for them to do such as moving on to another assignment, reading a book,
or a quiet enrichment exercise. While the early-finishers are staying busy the teacher is allowed
to move around the room to answer question or assist struggling students. Another example, if
the teacher is in the middle of a lecture and a student enters the room the teacher should make
eye contact with the student, have an area for the student to turn in work, and continue with the
lesson. Once the students are doing their work the teacher can go to the tardy student and tell
them what they missed or answer any questions from the homework assigned the night before.

Momentum
The teacher should make lectures short to allow students to group together and move around to
gain more knowledge of the content. The teacher should make sure that these exercises remain
short so students do not get bored. A teacher can keep a timer and assign roles to students to
keep the students moving and on a time deadline. If students are struggling the teacher can
reflect on what they can do to make the lesson more meaningful and easier to understand for
their students.

Smoothness
The teacher can have students make hand gestures, that will tell the teacher whether the student
has a comment or question concerning the lesson. This technique allows the teacher to have an

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idea about those students who may cause an unwanted tangent and those who may have a
good question, pertaining to utilise the time effectively. When placing students in group-work, the
teacher can walk around facilitating and listening to discussions of other students. The teacher
can then intervene or take the group to a different track if required.

Group Focus
The teacher can implement this strategy with several techniques:
A. Encourage Accountability: Make students aware that they will be graded for their participation
and contributions to the group.
B. The teacher can have a canister of popsicle sticks that have each students name on them.
The teacher can pick the popsicle stick at random to keep students on track and out of their
seats with anticipation for question/answer time, board problems, etc.
C. The students can facilitate a discussion. Once they have finished a task they can turn to each
other or they could pair up with those who are already done and compare answers.
In order for implementation to be effective the teacher must be well organized, communicate their
expectations to their students, and hold them responsible for their actions to encourage
motivation and attention.

Source:
https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Classroom_Management_Theorists_and_Theories/Jacob_Ko
unin
Accessed 13/04/2016.

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APPENDIX 5- Rogers Positive Behavioural Leadership Model

Rogers - Positive Behavioural Leadership


model
Bill (William) Rogers was a teacher and is now an Educational consultant who is widely known
for his lectures and books on discipline and behaviour management issues, classroom
management, stress and teaching, colleague support, developing peer-support programs for
teachers and developing community-oriented policies for behaviour management, based on
whole-school approaches.
Rogers has distilled his approach to 5 principles:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Shared rights of all expressed as rules


Confrontation and potential embarrassment should be actively minimized
Show confidence in students by offering choices
Model respectful dignified behaviour
Communicate quality standards and expectations positively

In practice there a 4 Steps that teachers can take for decisive action:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Tactical ignoring
Direction or rule restatement
Repeat direction, then give a clear choice
Follow up the choice - isolation, time out or exit

Rogers provides some basic tips for using his model. He suggests that you should keep the
level of teacher intrusiveness to the lowest level possible. Importantly your tone of voice
and body language must be consistent with what you are saying. Always make sure that your
rules, rights and responsibilities are clear and known to all the students and lastly maintain a
climate of respect.

Source: http://tlweb.latrobe.edu.au/education/learning-materials/Classroommanagement-general/Models/models-theories040.html
Accessed 13/04/2016.

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APPENDIX 6- Levin and Nolans Hierarchy of Intervention.

Source: Levin and Nolan (2005), page 43.

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APPENDIX 7- Skinners theory.

Skinner - Operant Conditioning


By the 1920s, John B. Watson had left academic psychology and other behavioristswere
becoming influential, proposing new forms of learning other than classical conditioning.
Perhaps the most important of these was Burrhus Frederic Skinner. Although, for obvious
reasons he is more commonly known as B.F. Skinner.
Skinner's views were slightly less extreme than those of Watson (1913). Skinner believed
that we do have such a thing as a mind, but that it is simply more productive to study
observable behavior rather than internal mental events.
The work of Skinner was rooted in a view that classical conditioning was far too
simplistic to be a complete explanation of complex human behavior. He believed that the
best way to understand behavior is to look at the causes of an action and its consequences.
He called this approach operant conditioning.
Operant Conditioning deals with operants - intentional actions that have an effect on the
surrounding environment. Skinner set out to identify the processes which made certain
operant behaviours more or less likely to occur.
Skinner's theory of operant conditioning was based on the work of Thorndike(1905).
Edward Thorndike studied learning in animals using a puzzle box to propose the theory
known as the 'Law of Effect'.

BF Skinner: Operant Conditioning


Skinner is regarded as the father of Operant Conditioning, but his work was based on
Thorndikes law of effect. Skinner introduced a new term into the Law of Effect Reinforcement. Behavior which is reinforced tends to be repeated (i.e. strengthened);
behavior which is not reinforced tends to die out-or be extinguished (i.e. weakened).
Skinner (1948) studied operant conditioning by conducting experiments using animals
which he placed in a 'Skinner Box' which was similar to Thorndikes puzzle box.

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B.F. Skinner (1938) coined the term operant conditioning; it means roughly changing of
behavior by the use of reinforcement which is given after the desired response. Skinner
identified three types of responses or operant that can follow behavior.
Neutral operants: responses from the environment that neither increase nor
decrease the probability of a behavior being repeated.
Reinforcers: Responses from the environment that increase the probability of a
behavior being repeated. Reinforcers can be either positive or negative.
Punishers: Responses from the environment that decrease the likelihood of a
behavior being repeated. Punishment weakens behavior.
We can all think of examples of how our own behavior has been affected by reinforcers
and punishers. As a child you probably tried out a number of behaviors and learned from
their consequences.
For example, if when you were younger you tried smoking at school, and the chief
consequence was that you got in with the crowd you always wanted to hang out with, you
would have been positively reinforced (i.e. rewarded) and would be likely to repeat the
behavior. If, however, the main consequence was that you were caught, caned, suspended
from school and your parents became involved you would most certainly have been
punished, and you would consequently be much less likely to smoke now.

3610 EDUC

Geoffrey Langhans

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Positive Reinforcement
Skinner showed how positive reinforcement worked by placing a hungry rat in his
Skinner box. The box contained a lever on the side and as the rat moved about the box it
would accidentally knock the lever. Immediately it did so a food pellet would drop into a
container next to the lever. The rats 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 behavior by providing a consequence an individual
finds rewarding. For example, if your teacher gives you 5 each time you complete your
homework (i.e. a reward) you will be more likely to repeat this behavior in the future,
thus strengthening the behavior of completing your homework.

Negative Reinforcement
The removal of an unpleasant reinforcer can also strengthen behavior. This is known as
negative reinforcement because it is the removal of an adverse stimulus which is
rewarding to the animal or person. Negative reinforcement strengthens behavior
because it stops or removes an unpleasant experience.
For example, if you do not complete your homework, you give your teacher 5. You will
complete your homework to avoid paying 5, thus strengthening the behavior of
completing your homework.
Skinner showed how negative reinforcement worked by placing a rat in his Skinner box
and then subjecting it to an unpleasant electric current which caused it some discomfort.
As the rat moved about the box it would accidentally knock the lever. Immediately it did
so the electric current would be switched off. The rats quickly learned to go straight to the
lever after a few times of being put in the box. The consequence of escaping the electric
current ensured that they would repeat the action again and again.
In fact Skinner even taught the rats to avoid the electric current by turning on a light just
before the electric current came on. The rats soon learned to press the lever when the light
came on because they knew that this would stop the electric current being switched on.
These two learned responses are known as Escape Learning and Avoidance Learning.

3610 EDUC

Geoffrey Langhans

a1131884

Punishment (weakens behavior)


Punishment is defined as the opposite of reinforcement since it is designed to weaken or
eliminate a response rather than increase it. It is an aversive event that decreases the
behavior that it follows
Like reinforcement, punishment can work either by directly applying an unpleasant
stimulus like a shock after a response or by removing a potentially rewarding stimulus,
for instance, deducting someones pocket money to punish undesirable behavior.
Note: It is not always easy to distinguish between punishment and negative
reinforcement.
There are many problems with using punishment, such as:

Punished behavior is not forgotten, it's suppressed - behavior returns when


punishment is no longer present.

Causes increased aggression - shows that aggression is a way to cope with


problems.

Creates fear that can generalize to undesirable behaviors, e.g., fear of school.

Does not necessarily guide toward desired behavior - reinforcement tells you what
to do, punishment only tells you what not to do.

Source: http://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html
Accessed 13/04/2016.

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Geoffrey Langhans

a1131884

APPENDIX 8- Vygotskys Zone of Proximal Development.

Graph: Zone of proximal development: Vygotsky

Lev Vygotsky
Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky has made a major contribution to our
understanding of the relationship between language and learning . Vygotsky
stresses that to speak is to engage in the social practice of thinking.
Consider the following quote from Vygotsky: Thought is not expressed but
completed in the word (1987).
Vygotskys work was not well known in the west until it was taken up by other
psychologists and translated into English. It has had a significant influence on
education and has led to the development of two key concepts for learning and
teaching: the Zone of Proximal Development and Scaffolding.

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Geoffrey Langhans

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Zone of proximal development


Vygotsky was particularly interested in the ways children were challenged and
extended in their learning by adults. He argued that the most successful learning
occurs when children are guided by adults towards learning things that they could
not attempt on their own.
Vygotsky coined the term Zone of Proximal Development to refer to the zone where
teachers and students work as children move towards independence. This zone
changes as teachers and students move past their present level of development
towards new areas of knowledge.
Source:
http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/teachers/teachingresources/discipline/english/
proflearn/Pages/velszopds56.aspx
Accessed 13/04/2016.

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Geoffrey Langhans

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APPENDIX 9- Gordons theory of Classroom Management.

Classroom Philosophy
The central tenet of Dr. Gordons approach to classroom management is the
importance of developing meaning and mutually beneficial relationships. Dr. Gordon
rejects traditional models of reward and punishment because they are based upon
an assertion of power and foster no intrinsic motivation. Instead Dr. Gordon focuses
on how students conflicts can be resolved in a way that will improve their
relationships with their teacher and peers.

Dr. Gordon recognizes that conflict is an inevitable part of relationships because


each person is an individual with unique values and needs. There will be times when
these needs come into conflict. However, conflict does not have to destroy a
relationship. By having open and honest communication, along with listening with
genuine acceptance and understanding, individuals are able to find their own
solutions. It is important that these solutions are agreeable to both parties involved in
the conflict. It is also important to tell someone if their behaviors are negatively
affecting you. The hope is that they will respect your feelings enough to change their
behavior (Gordon, 1978).

When conflict arises in the classroom setting Dr. Gordon suggests following a series
of steps. The first step is to use a graphic tool developed by Dr. Gordon called a
Behavior Window. The purpose of the Behavior Window is to determine if a
problem exists, who owns it, and what skill can be used to solve it (Gordon Training
International, 2005-2007). If the student owns the problem, the second step for the
teacher is to engage is active listening. Active listening occurs when a teacher listens
and reflects back to a student their understanding of the conflict. This process
communicates to the student that the teacher cares and is genuinely engaged in the
conversation. If the teacher owns the problem, Dr. Gordon suggests that the second
step of the resolution process begin with an I-Message. This means that the
teacher will initiate the conversation by explaining her feelings to the student. The
purpose of the I-Message is to confront someone elses misbehavior without being
confrontational. The final step is the No-Lose Conflict Resolution. The purpose of
this final step is to come up with a solution that everyone can be invested in. If both
parties participate in creating a solution, the solution is more likely to work!

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Geoffrey Langhans

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References:
Gordon, Thomas. (1978). A Credo for My Relationship with Others. Retrieved June
12, 2007 from http://www.gordontraining.com/popup-a-credo-for-my-relationshipswith-others.html
Gordon Training International.(2005-2007). Retrieved June 11, 2007
from http://www.gordontraining.com.

Source:
https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Classroom_Management_Theorists_and_Theories/Thomas
_Gordon
Accessed 13/04/2016.