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David Johnson (6041362)
In a society where people with money and power control the world, there are few things in life where individuals get the opportunity to touch and change the lives of others. Luckily, through one of the most important aspects of a person s life, education, we as teachers get the unique opportunity to shape a student s wants and needs and encourage them in order for the students to flourish. As a teacher, I feel the best method to approaching children is through a democratic environment. This ensures that the views and attitudes of both the students and the educator can help shape a positive learning environment. Alfie Kohn s theory of students and educators working together to develop respectful relationships, and using the classroom as a learning community are essential in effective learning. When it comes to classroom management, the role of the teacher and importance on classroom instruction go hand in hand in the success of the learner. Educators must establish a safe learning environment that encourages students to want to succeed. This needs to not only be of physical safety, but emotional and psychological too. There are many desirable and undesirable behaviour problems that can occur in classroom These s. transcend nearly every classroom in the world. Students that are unengaged, inattentive or disruptive are all factors which can affect not only individuals but the entire classroom s ability to learn. Whilst these seem too common of an occurrence in classrooms, morally unacceptable behaviour can also occur (things like lying, cheating, bullying) and these need to be addressed through a democratic nature. It is in their individual nature, that all students require different approaches to this. No child is the same and as such a teacher, whilst adopting the same beliefs, should have the ability to adapt and change their approach accordingly. Through Rudolph Dreikurs method of logical consequences for their actions (McDonald, 2010), the child can learn to change their behaviour from negative towards positive. The one thing that teachers and educators must strive to seek is the answer to why children/students misbehave. Through the work of Alfred Adler, Rudolph Dreikurs produced his own theories of democratic teaching. He believed that students misbehave due to a feeling of inferiority, or lacking a sense of belonging to the classroom (McDonald, 2010 Pg. 87). This causes the child to change their role as a positive learner and begin to misbehave through seeking attention, trying to gain power, exacting revenge on those around them and even gain sympathy. I believe that if teachers can learn about these four mistaken goals and what to do when they occur, this will be one hugely beneficial step towards classroom management. As educators, we must be aware that all children have the positive potential to learn and there are ways to manage this. William Glasser, a major theorist in the interactionist, or democratic view on teaching, states that a child only needs five basic needs to be met in the classroom in order for the behaviour of that student to be acceptable and positive (Charles, 1992.). Through survival, belonging, power, freedom and fun in a democratic environment, the students should feel free to express themselves. I feel strongly that with an educator s encouragement and meeting of these needs they can really help the students to succeed despite the risk of failure. The theories behind ways of managing classroom behaviour that really intrigued and appealed to me as a person and educator were in the democratic way a classroom is run. A society should
operate on the assumption that everyone (in regards to both educator and student) gets an equal opinion on how things will run. The democratic view of teaching is neither autocratic nor permissive. Democratic teachers provide firm guidance and leadership by establishing rules and consequences. They motivate students from within (Charles, 1992, Pg.64). This idea of establishing rules and consequences is something I feel strongly about and Rudolph Dreikurs theories state some extremely positive and beneficial steps in helping to do so in a classroom environment. Dreikur believed that by establishing a classroom where decisions and the rules are determined by both the teacher and the students, then this will promote self discipline and in turn, they will realise the consequences for their actions. It involves allowing students freedom to choose their own behaviour. They can do this because they understand exactly what consequences will follow any behaviour chosen. Good behaviour brings rewards, poor behaviour always brings undesired consequences. (Charles, 1992, Pg.63) This method of the students establishing and understanding the rules of the classroom is not only a fantastic way for them to be self motivated/disciplined, but provides a great learning tool for the way in which we should behave in society too. The students are taught that while we all have the potential to misbehave, there will always be an unwanted outcome. Another important key theory that affects the way in which children behave is Dreikurs theory on mistaken goals . This goes on the belief that all students want to have a place in the classroom and will inevitably try different socially acceptable and unacceptable ways to get it. If the student is struggling to receive positive recognition, then he or she will resort to negative means in order to succeed. Attention getting, power seeking, revenge seeking and displaying inadequacy are all different means the student will attempt to vie for acceptance in the classroom. Dreikurs categorised these into four mistaken goals , which go in progressive order. These students are trying to seek proof of acceptance through what they can get others to give them (Charles, 1992, Pg.65). This is why it is so important to make each child feel like they have a sense of belonging in the classroom environment. By being aware, as educators, of the different mistaken goals a child will display if this is not the case, we can rectify the situation before it progresses to the next stage. A theorist who I feel plays another crucial role in positive classroom management is William Glasser and his theories that all students want to belong, in one way or another. This goes hand in hand with Dreikurs theory above, but gives a further understanding of what exactly the student desires. This sense of belonging stems from Glasser s belief that a child only needs to have five basic needs met in order to best achieve control over individuals in a classroom. Survival, belonging, power, fun and freedom are all areas that fill us with pleasure if met and frustration when not and as educators we have the opportunity to meet all, but survival, intimately. Glasser is adamant in his contention that education that does not give those needs top priority is bound to fail (Charles, 1992, Pg.117). What Glasser is getting at, is if we as educators can harness the ability to meet these needs with utmost importance for our classroom, then children have the potential to work at a better skill level and produce a better quality of learning. The final theorist that I feel is significantly important in a positive democratic classroom is Alfie Kohn and his views on a positive classroom environment. His theory states that the classroom should be a learning community in which students and teachers work together to solve problems and develo p
strong, respectful relationships. By encouraging the students to work together, they can utilise learning through a deeper level of thinking (McDonald, 2010). This These theories are all vitally important in understanding what is needed for an affective classroom management plan. By understanding the reasoning by why children behave the way they do, we can begin to break them down into a series of affective practises to improve the way a classroom will run. One of the first crucial steps, I feel, in managing classroom behaviour is to create a code of conduct . To set out a clear understanding of what is expected of the students and also the teacher in the classroom. These expectations of the classroom can really help the students identify what they would like to get out of class and also helps to reaffirm them in times of need. Dreikur himself believed that a student will benefit immensely out of establishing rules and consequences and this is can be done easily within a classroom or even a school setting. A useful guide here is to focus on the values and principles that the class can operate under. Once the value or principle is known, then the description of what that value looks like in the class can be developed. (McDonald, 2010 Pg. 111) The students work together to create these classroom values. The code of conduct can be discussed with the students in a democratic environment to reaffirm that the students understand certain aspects, such as safety or accountability, and are aware of what these entail. Whilst this is not a fullproof method of ensuring these are always going to be met, the code of conduct sets room to provide a higher quality of work because of the teachers high, but reasonable, expectations. Another crucial step in practising good classroom management is to build up a rapport with the students. A great relationship between teacher and student is one of the best preventative measures in ensuring misbehaviour. A classroom that is safe, comfortable and gives students a sense of belonging is key to ensuring positive behaviour. While there is no set way of going about this, Glasser s theory on meeting the five needs of a child is a good start. Though survival may be a hard need to fulfil in a school environment, a sense of belonging is easy to set in place by giving each student the opportunity to A strong, learning community in the classroom is definitely an invaluable step in controlling misbehaviour. Engaging the students in work that is fun and gives them the opportunity to express their knowledge and personalities not only fulfils two of Glasser s five basic needs (freedom and fun) but encourages the students to work together which is a crucial skill to use later on in life. As Kohn believes, the idea of constructing a learning environment where a deeper level of thinking occurs is going to create the opportunity for students to feel engaged in their learning. As Dreikurs points out, every student has the ability to misbehave, and using the four mistaken goals he has identified, we as educators can look out for the warning signs and be quick to resolve any issues that occur. One way to do this is to gage our own responses to student misbehaviour. If I am feeling annoyed or threatened but a student, then this is a sign of attention or power seeking behaviour signs. If I am feeling hurt or powerless towards the child then this is the last two of the progressive goals and shows the student is seeking revenge or displaying signs of inadequacy. Another way to identify the signs is by the students attitudes towards me. Disruptive behaviour,
such as continual misbehaviour, shows signs of attention seeking and so on. Once these have been identified, then the next step is to discuss the misbehaviour with the student. By doing this in a friendly, nonthreatening way, teachers can usually get students to examine the purposes behind their behaviour (Charles, 1992, Pg. 67). This gives the student an opportunity to express the reasons behind the action in self reflection and provides the teacher with a chance to implement a change in action to target the misbehaviour. Without positive encouragement in the classroom, there is little chance that students are going to strive to do well. Dreikur believed that encouragement was a crucial element in preventing the misbehaviour of students. Encouragement is a great technique for making the child feel self satisfied on the belief that they are participating and recognising their effort, rather than their achievements (Charles, 1992). Dreikur was insistent that this differs greatly from praise and creates intrinsic, or internal motivation, rather than an expectation of praise from a task. As an educator, by being positive and encouraging towards students, not only are you portraying that it is about improvement and not perfection, you re making the child realise that it is the continual learning that is important and not necessarily the final product. This self satisfaction will really help to control misbehaviour in a classroom situation. References:
Charles, C.M. (1992). Building classroom discipline (4th ed.). New York : Longman. McDonald, T. (2010). Classroom Management: Engaging Students in Learning . Victoria: Oxford
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