Teachers, to ensure that students are behaving well in class to learn, use behaviour for Learning (B4L) strategies (Adams, 2009). The relationships are the crucial influences upon children’s learning behaviours (Adams, 2009). Such relationships are with themselves, others and the curriculum (East Sussex Primary GTP, 2009). If these relationships are approached positively by a teacher, the students can “increase opportunities for learning” (ESP GTP, 2009, p.1). Focusing on the lessons from year 6 class, this essay will show the two key strategies, which are supporting pupil’s emotional well being, which caters the relationship with themselves and others, and utilizing simple, clear and well paced lessons with stimulating activities, which caters the relationship with the curriculum (ESP GTP, 2009; Elton Report, 1989). These strategies can be used to create an effective and purposeful classroom environment.
To support student’s emotional wellbeing, the teacher needs to attempt to make a positive relationship with the students. According to Haydn (2007), students preferred friendly teachers who praised and encourage them through learning process. Positive reinforcement can support students to feel valued and emotionally secure, which impacts positively and neurologically on their learning behavior (NHSS, 2004). On the other hand, if the students don’t feel valued and feel insecure, they will more likely have low self-esteem (NHS, 2004). Low-self esteem is the major barrier to effective learning and motivation (Cohen et al, 2010). Hence, motivation is a crucial element of learning and success in school and helps students achieve and maintain good behavior (Wentzel, 2012; Wentzel & Wigfield, 2009; Wigfield et al., 2006). Unlike the punishment, positive reinforcement lasts for long term and lasts effectiveness over time (Kohn, 2006). This was clearly seen in the observation of most of the lessons as the teacher precisely praised (Lemov, 2010) most students during the discussion although they were not exactly correct but related. Students who have given wrong answers were also praised for participating in the discussion and this encouraged the normalizing of errors when trying (Lemov, 2010). The students looked more confident and frequently had their hands up more ever since, showing the effect of praise and encouragement.
Student well being has been stated by Awang, Ahmad, Wahab and Mamat (2013) as the major determinant of the behavior the student exhibits and therefore, how he/she engages in the classroom and class related activities. One of the challenges in supporting student wellbeing is when the student exhibits negative behavior. According to Awang et al. (2013), it is important that the teacher deals with negative behavior in a way that doesn’t dent the student’s emotional wellbeing. Some of the ways suggested by Awang et al. (2013) and witnessed in the classroom include privately approaching the students and promise. Under private approach to the student, the teacher approaches the student and points out the negative behaviour and how it is interfering with class work or interrupting instruction. The teacher then reminds the students of his/her academic obligations and the specific tasks he/she should be engaged. The student is then given an opportunity to explain his/her behavior and then the teacher offers him/her an opportunity to improve on the negative behavior. This method doesn’t embarrass the student and it has been shown to reduce the likelihood of a student involvement in negative behavior (Gotzens, Badia, Genovard & Dezcallar, 2010). Promise involves the teacher approaching the misbehaving student and informing him/her of the negative behavior. The teacher then asks the student to state the appropriate alternative behavior and then asks the student to make a promise either verbally or in writing not to engage in the negative behaviour again. This method saves the students face, it helps to hold the students accountable to his/her action, and reduces likelihood of misbehaving in the future (Gotzens et al., 2010).
In terms of pedagogical characteristics, teachers can achieve good relationship with the students if the teacher’s professional. Explicitly, the students are more likely to respect their teachers if they are knowledgeable and can explain things clearly (Hydn, 2007). Moyles (2001) supported that children showed unacceptable behavior when they are unsure of their work based on observations. Students are more likely to be engaged in class if the lesson is dynamic and stimulating yet clear and easy enough to understand. Teaching Agency and Rogers (2006) point out that well prepared lesson plans are one of the strategies for good teaching. Hence “good teaching is the most effective way to get good behavior” (TA, 2012). If the lesson is not simple and clear enough, the students are most likely become disengaged and misbehave since they are not provided with the direction to their own learning (East Sussex Primary GTP, 2009; Moyles, 2001). However on the other hand, making the lessons too easy can affect high-ability students negatively since the lessons are not challenging enough (Paton, 2012). Wiliam (2014) argued that the smartest child can be overtaken academically by the slowest child if the smartest child is not over stimulated with challenges. Therefore, differentiated lesson can be effective for classes with mixed abilities (Grimes and Stevens 2009; Tomlinson, 2010). The class demonstrated the use of differentiated instruction especially during the mathematics lesson especially during the independent activity phase. The students with high ability were given the challenging exercise whereas other students (regular and the low ability) worked on the medium leveled exercise. The teacher gave the low ability students, extra scaffolding/support. Thus children were focused and engaged without any low level disruptions, which demonstrates the success of applying differentiated (dynamic, stimulating yet clear and simple) lesson in the class. According to Wheatley, West, Charlton, Sanders and Taylor (2009), differential instruction helps in reaching to the students regardless of their abilities and serves to build confidence in them. This method of instruction is important and relevant because it makes the students fell in control, builds confidence, and makes the students less dependent on the teacher (Wheatley et al., 2009). As argued by James and Coolier (2011), the starting point of each learning session is vital, and inclusion of warm-up activities is important for boosting students’ participation and understanding. In the mathematics class, it was observed that warm-up included a revision of the previous class work for the first five minutes of the current class.
Student behavior management is still rated the most stressful aspect of teaching among the teachers (Chaplain, 1995b, 2008; Mastilli and Sadro-Brown, 2002). If the teacher is unable to manage the misbehaviours, students are unable to learn properly (Adams, 2009). To prevent that from happening and cater the positive learning environment, based on the observation from the year 6 class, the two key strategies are by engaging with pupils positively and making the lesson fun yet explicit. These strategies can ensure the students to create the positive relationship with themselves, others and the curriculum, which overall encourages effective learning.
- Awang, M.M., Ahmad, A.R., Wahab, J.L.A. & Mamat, N. (2013).Effective teaching strategies to encourage learning behavior. IOSR Journal Of Humanities And Social Science (IOSR-JHSS) Volume 8, Issue 2, 35-40
- Gotzens, C., Badia, M., Genovard, C., & Dezcallar, T. A. (2010). Comparative Study of the Seriousness Attributed to Disruptive Classroom Behaviours. Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, 8(1), 33-58.
- James, A. R., & Coolier, D. H. (2011). Warm-Ups: The Key to the Beginning of a Great Lesson. Strategies, 14- 15
- Wheatley, R. K., West, R. P., Charlton, C. T., Sanders, R. B., & Taylor, T. G. S. M. J. (2009). Improving behaviour through differential reinforcement: A praise note system for elementary school students. Education and Treatment of Children, 32(4), 551-557.