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My Philosophy

My teaching philosophy incorporates two key ideas within the classroom: facilitating
learning through social constuctivism underpinned by a humanistic approach. I
believe that each student in my class must feel valued, included, and supported for
optimal engagement and learning to occur. This can be achieved, in part, by focusing
on the student as a whole person, including the cognitive, social, emotional and
physical aspects, which all contribute to well-being and self-confidence. I plan to
maximise learning firstly through creating a sense of belonging for each student and a
community atmosphere within the class, then by facilitation of group work, effective
scaffolding, well-appointed questions, engaging and student-centred activities
connected to real world issues, and ongoing interactive assessment.

No matter the intended audience, I believe that social learning is crucial in offering
differing perspectives and ideas to expand every student’s learning. I strongly believe
that academics is interrelated with social, emotional and physical realms. Together,
the key points of my philosophy will create a classroom which fosters a sense of
belonging where students are keen to engage, and will develop not only scholastic
skills, but emotional and social skills, all necessary to classroom and life-long -success
of my students.

My philosophy has been informed by theorist Lev Vygotsyky, as well as Jean Piaget
who both supported learners being engaged and active participants who self-regulate
their learning through a social context, key principles of constructivism. Humanisitic
theorist John Dewey advocates approaching learning in a student-centred social way
as well. Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, both humanists, advocate strategies which
enhance the self-esteem of children and an emphasis on relational work, including
cooperative group work. (Duchesne & McMaugh, 2016). In addition, Maslow’s theory
has a focus on students’ needs in a learning situation and attention is placed, after
basic needs, on “safety and belonging; on the affective or emotional aspects of their
development (feeling, interest, attitudes and values)” (Duchesne & McMaugh, 2016,
p. 268).

Learning Context

I have chosen a Year 3 class of twenty-four students in a rural school in the


Southwest a couple of blocks from the beach. It has been prepared in anticipation of
commencement of teaching at the beginning of the school year. The class is a
heterogeneous group comprised of students primarily from middle class families
where English is the main spoken language. There are two students with ADHD and
one student with mild Autism. In addition, one student is of Aboriginal descent.
Classroom Layout Diagram

Rationale for Classroom Layout

Aligning with my philosophy, I have designed the classroom layout for ease of group
work and class discussions in mind. There are four students per table which is the
recommended optimum number for group work (Saunders, 2018a) but also allows
for pair work. The large mat accommodates daily group sharing and an area where
physical activity can take place. Students will also have the option of sitting on the
mat for lessons when appropriate. The smart board can be seen from desks or from
the mat to allow for variety of lesson delivery. The teacher’s desk placement makes
it easy to scan the entire room. The recyclables area assists in teaching about
sustainability (ACARA, 2018). There is a permanent table, the ‘Explore More’ table,
where students can interact further with resources additional to those used for
lessons. The vision for this table is to encourage self-regulated learning while
engaging with resources related to lessons.
Classroom Management Prevention Strategies

Building Positive Relationships

Building and maintaining positive cohesive relationships between students as well as


between the teacher and students is largely a result of the actions a teacher takes
(Bennett & Smilanich, 1994). In addition, the evidence-based Adlerian point of view
is that a person acts in socially inappropriate ways in part when they don’t feel they
belong (Saunders, 2018b). To create cohesive relationships and build a sense of
belonging I will focus straight away on collaborative games and team-building
exercises. In the first two weeks I will conduct a 25-minute interview with each
student to get to know their interests, backgrounds, family life and have insight into
what motivates them. To build rapport, I will also share regularly about myself with
students. Research shows that building good relationships with students creates a
31% decrease in classroom disruptions (Saunders, 2018a). Implementing these
strategies creates a cohesive classroom and supports my philosophy by fostering a
sense of community which makes collaborative work more effective.

After winning students over, maintaining a cohesive relationship with students can
play out on a daily basis with actions like meeting them at the door as they come in
while addressing each student by name and using eye contact (McDonald, T. 2013),
asking students about their interests, acknowledging students outside the classroom,
and modelling enthusiasm, respect, and positive and acceptable social interaction.
For further cohesion, I will follow the class rules, be highly knowledgeable of lesson
subject matter, be organised, enthusiastic, vary the learning and make it engaging
(Bennett & Smilanich, 1994).

Creating and Maintaining Emotional Safety

In order to help students to excel within the classroom, they need a caring, safe, and
supportive environment (McDonald, 2013). “A safe environment refers to the extent
in which a student and teacher feel their sense of self is not at risk” (Bennett &
Smilanich, 1994, p. 65). One way this is achieved is by the teacher considering the
impact of what they say or how they act to one student on the rest of the class and
keeping their emotions in check (Saunders, 2018b). Students need to be treated as
individuals and with respect as they cannot trust someone they fear (McDonald,
2013), and fear leads to resistance (Saunders, 2018a). Teachers must be consistent
and positive with their actions and avoid humiliating or singling out students
(Bennett & Smilanich, 1994). They need to recognise and be sensitive to student
fears and create opportunities for even small successes (Saunders, 2018a).

Each morning I will have 25 minutes of mat time scheduled which can include
sharing to make and maintain connections and can also include social and emotional
learning. This time will allow me insight into where individual students are
emotionally on the day and can assist in knowing how to manage behaviour issues
on an individual basis. I plan to model caring, support and inclusiveness every day
and offer positivity and encouragement to all my students. I will allow students to
take a pass for answering questions and come back to them later, and I will let them
know that it is okay to be wrong (Saunders, 2018a).

Establishing Boundaries, Routines and Rules

During the first week of school, effective teachers “give students a roadmap to
navigate the classroom… behaviour and routines that will occur in class” (McDonald,
2013, p. 112). Research shows that disruptions were nearly 30% lower in classes
where teachers successfully implemented procedures and rules (Saunders, 2018b).
Rules and routines need to be explained clearly and installed in a systematic way
from day one (McDonald, 2013). Procedures to manage transitions, and signalling to
begin must be implemented effectively (Saunders, 2018b).

I plan to involve my students in creating the rules of the classroom and having a
group discussion about each rule and the rationale of why it is important to follow
them. Rules will be directive and written in a positive way and there will be no more
than five (Saunders, 2018b). I will explain rules and procedures clearly and remind
students often, especially in the first two weeks as everything will be new to them
(McDonald, 2013).

Rewards

Within my classroom, authentic verbal praise will be a daily occurrence. Thank you
notes of acknowledgement for students who have done something well or improved
will be hand written and handed out (McDonald, 2013). I will also include parents in
communication when students have excelled so that they may be acknowledged at
home. While not a humanistic view, tangible rewards are effective for young
students (Saunders, 2018b) and will be used sparingly. Some of these may include
free time, a games lesson, and a star chart. When students finish their work early,
they may be awarded time on the laptops, or reading corner time.

Classroom Management Response Strategies

While prevention is better than response, students are going to misbehave (Bennett
& Simalich, 1994). When this occurs, the chosen response will vary and depend on
things like frequency and severity of misbehaviour, teacher/ student relationship,
school policies, administration support (Saunders, 2018c), and the emotional state of
the student due to outside influences. When responding to misbehaviour, it is of
utmost importance to keep your emotions in check and match the intensity of your
response to the misbehaviour so it is seen as fair (Saunders, 2018c).
Minor Annoyances and Disruptions

For minor annoyances, a Bump 1 response, a low-key reaction explained by Bennett


and Smilanich (1994) are appropriate and include the look or glare, using proximity,
the student’s name, a pause, a cough, dealing with the problem (for example, take
away the pen they are using to tap with) using a signal, using politeness or a planned
ignore often with a glance. These responses require few if any words, and don’t
detract from the lesson flow. There is no invitation with these responses for
escalation (Saunders, 2018c).

Persistent Inappropriate Behaviours

If the behaviour continues, or is beyond a low-key response, Bump 2, called ‘squaring


off’ (Bennett & Smilanich, 1994) can be utilised. With neutral body language so as not
to invite escalation, pause and face the student, request the student stop the
behaviour, and then finish with a non-sarcastic ‘thanks’ to maintain respect from the
student and positivity in the room. This response takes only a couple of seconds
((Saunders, 2018c).

Should the misbehaviour continue after deploying Bump 2, then Bump 3 can be
carried out which is offering choices. It is best to have a few select choices in mind
which are logical, can be carried out immediately and are linked to the misbehaviour.
Choice should never be an ultimatum and should be delivered in a neutral or positive
tone. Bump 4 is simply the follow through of the chosen choice (Bennett & Smilanich,
1994).

Defiance

It is good practice to know the motivation behind misbehaviour of any kind. Defiance
can shift to a power struggle, so defusing the situation with de-escalation strategies
such as ignoring, describing the situation, using humour, offering choices, ‘going with’
the student comment, and putting responsibility back on the student. It is imperative
before defusing to stay calm. Steps can include deep breaths, squaring off with eye
contact, dealing with allies, and after de-escalating, allow the student to save face
before saying ‘thank you’ (Saunders, 2018c). This would be followed up with Bump 6,
an informal chat with the student (Saunders, 2018c).

Bullying

School policy and procedure should be followed in the instance of bullying.


Depending on the severity, school administration would take part in the procedure.
Education Services Australia has created a Student Wellbeing Hub with anti-bullying
resources for school staff. The recommended procedure is to take the report
seriously, hold separate meetings for the victim and the bully and have bully identify
what they plan to do to make amends, arrange separate meetings with parents of the
victim and bully to identify the actions that will be taken by the school (Australian
Government Department of Education and Training, 2017). Similarly, there are
suggestions for teachers first response to bullying on The Bullying. No Way! website
for Australian schools (Safe and Supportive Communities Working Group, 2018).

Physical Violence

Like bullying, school policy should be undertaken for physical violence. Certainly, the
school administration would be involved. Depending on the severity of the act, and
after an informal chat, Bump 7, a formal contract may ensue. Bump 8, 9, and 10
which involve suspension or termination are also possibilities.

Relevant Policies

For Western Australia, the Department of Education website has a student behaviour
policy and procedure which can be downloaded from the following:
http://det.wa.edu.au/studentsupport/behaviourandwellbeing/detcms/navigation/beh
aviour/student-behaviour/

In addition, the Department of Education website offer guidelines for prevention and
management of bullying in schools which can be downloaded from the following:
http://det.wa.edu.au/studentsupport/behaviourandwellbeing/detcms/school-
support-programs/behaviour-and-wellbeing/safe-and-supportive-schools/guidelines-
for-preventing-and-managing-bullying-in-
schools.en?title=Guidelines+for+preventing+and+managing+bullying+in+schools
References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (2018). Sustainability.


Retrieved from: https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/cross-
curriculum-priorities/sustainability/

Australian Government Department of Education and Training, (20017). Student


Wellbeing Hub. Retrieved from:
https://www.studentwellbeinghub.edu.au/resources#/resource-
search?pageNumber=1&audiences=educators&topics=protectingagainstbullying&sch
oollevels=foundationyear1&schoollevels=year2year4&schoollevels=year5year6

Bennett, B., & Smilanich, P. (1994). Classroom management: A thinking and caring
approach. Toronto, Ontario: Bookation.

Duchesne, S. & McMaugh, A. (2016). Educational psychology for learning and


teaching (5th ed.). Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia.

McDonald, T. (2013). Classroom management: Engaging students in learning (2nd Ed).


Oxford University Press.

Safe and Supportive School Communities Working Group (2018). Bullying. No Way!
Retrieved from:
https://bullyingnoway.gov.au/RespondingToBullying/HowAustralianSchoolsRespond/
Pages/The-first-response.aspx

Saunders, B. (2018a, 20th July). EDN568 Strategies for effective learning and teaching
lectures. Perth: Murdoch University Lecture Series.

Saunders, B. (2018b, 26th July). EDN568 Strategies for effective learning and teaching
lectures. Perth: Murdoch University Lecture Series.

Saunders, B. (2018c, 2nd August). EDN568 Strategies for effective learning and
teaching lectures. Perth: Murdoch University Lecture Series.