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DIFFERING CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT STYLES AND WHAT IT MEANS AS A PRESERVICE TEACHER STEPPING INTO SOMEONE ELSES CLASSROOM

A Case study
Rebecca Crook

ABSTRACT Case study investigating how differing behaviour management styles can either build or break the student teacher relationship. In this case a student was treated badly and I believe this attitude of labelling certain students, and displaying reactive behaviour management comes directly from the top
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This case concerns myself and another teacher and how our differing style of classroom management work with students and either build walls between students and teachers or bring them together. The teacher (T) is an extra teacher i.e. she does not have enough teaching hours so she often fills in lessons when teachers are absent. I have observed one of her classes previously where she has use behaviour management in a way I feel is inappropriate. As students were walking into to classroom after the bell rang they were chatting and jostling in a friendly matter. Rather than greet the students as they entered T picked on one student, shouted loudly at her to go out and come back sensibly. The student was then visibly flat for the rest of the lesson after being picked out from her peers. The case concerns an extra class I was taking. In the first round of the placement I was placed with a mentor who only taught 7B, not 7A. I was teaching this class only and had developed all the work for the mini module on solutions. I had been handing the worksheets, presentations and experiment details to the teacher who taught 7A. On the 7th of May 2013 the teacher who normally taught 7A was unable to teach her normal class so I was brought in to cover. I had already taught the lesson (introducing the concept of solvents and solutes using M&Ms) so was pretty happy with how the class would go time wise, and the engagement of the students. I gave a short introduction to myself and told the class I was covering the lesson for the day, and answered a couple of questions asking if I was a science teacher etc. My mentor couldnt observe the lesson so T was brought in to observe. The class was going well with the class all engaged in the content and asking questions about the various points I was making. At the time of the incident the students were doing some writing of terms in their own words into their glossaries. The students were chatting but they were getting on with their work. I was walking around the room asking and answering questions. T was on her laptop doing some work. One student (S) asked a question, about MYKI. I said I was happy to help after the lesson but we were in science so she should concentrate on what she was doing. Another student asked a question and as I turned away the original student said NO! Listen to me! I told the student I would talk to her later, in a quiet, controlled and calm tone. T then interrupted and told the student off for talking to me that way. T said Dont talk to teachers that way, we respect each other in this classroom Her tone was slightly aggressive and loud enough for the whole class to stop what they 2
DIFFERING CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT STYLES AND WHAT IT MEANS AS A PRESERVICE TEACHER STEPPING INTO SOMEONE ELSES CLASSROOM

were doing. The teacher then pulled me aside and said, You shouldnt let her speak to you that way Later when the class were doing another task in groups I spoke to the student one on one. I said I was happy to chat with her but would she like it if I shouted at her to listen in that manner? She said she wouldnt but was disengaged from the conversation, I chose not to push the conversation any further. There are many ways to investigate this case, and a lot of issues that lead up to the relatively small incident. S is a student who I have been warned about and T used the descriptor her when describing S. S has some family problems and in every lesson I observed her in has been demonstrating attention seeking behaviour. For this student I believe any reaction may be better than nothing. Her expectations of how teachers treat her must be low even after only 1 full term as this school. The student has been mentioned to me as someone who is hard to manage and is know as one of the problems of year 7. If another student had spoken to me this way the teacher in question may not have reacted in the same way, I believe. The student had come from the deputy principal due to a bullying issue, so her head was probably not in the best place, and she may have felt powerless at this moment. Also as we had the one on one conversation after the incident she was disengaged from the conversation. I think that S realises that in that class I had less power than the other teacher and that T with all her expectations was going to treat this student the way she always had, whatever had happened. Also she may have the belief that all teacher are out to get her. T is an older teacher and her actions towards me may be a protective action, looking after the PST. I believe this looking at PSTs as lesser, not as able as teachers in harmful to all. I feel this doesnt allow PSTs to properly experience the classroom. If S had escalated after I had walked away and just shouted louder (which I didnt at the time feel she was going to do) I should have been able to see the whole process out. T may also feel threatened by PSTs coming in to the school, and the different teaching approaches that are being used. The school culture from the top I feel has a lot to do with behaviour management practices at this school. At the last debrief after the placement the Principal asked the PSTs Who has moved a student? Who has removed a student from the class? This was presented as if it is something we should be aspiring to do. I hope I never have
DIFFERING CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT STYLES AND WHAT IT MEANS AS A PRESERVICE TEACHER STEPPING INTO SOMEONE ELSES CLASSROOM

to eject someone from my class, as I believe I can prevent any situation getting to that point. As a student who was thrown out of class it wasnt a good way to deal with a disengaged young people. My mentor also in my feedback after the first lesson I taught told me I should have moved some students, before I had even had a chance to teach them. If students see that I already have assumptions about how I think they are going to behave where is the motivation to change the behaviour? My Mentor has also talked about how hard she finds it to connect to the year 7s, and how she doesnt understand them. If you have this expectation of a class and dont take real steps to address the problem how will it ever change? Respect was mentioned but I think just shouting not respectful, if we expect student to respect us we need to show respect to them and each other. If I cant manage my own behaviour how can I manage others? Some students may no know another way of dealing with anger or frustration than through aggression. Being a teacher who is calm and unflappable is important to me, and it is who I am as a person. In my experience the teachers who classes have the best behaved classes are not the loudest or most likely to shout at you, they are the engaging teachers who you respect and who have an interest in their subject area and students. My philosophy is very clearly put in the book Why are you shouting at us? It is the teachers professional responsibility to the class and to their own sanity to reverse what is being transmitted: they transmit anger, you transmit compassion and warmth. In doing so, you break the amplifying effect of the loop (Beadle & Murphy 2013). My personal beliefs come from my current work; I work with people with intellectual disabilities and have to deal with lots of behaviours of concern. In these instances the techniques that works best is to offer compassion and break the cycle of aggression. In the heat of the moment nobody thinks straight so I have been taught to acknowledge the moment but then talk through it at a different time, when everyone is more receptive. This is illustrated clearly by the Betari box (Mindtools.com, n.d.)(See figure 1). This shows how a teachers attitude and behaviour affects others; by not being reactive to students behaviour you can break the cycle.

DIFFERING CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT STYLES AND WHAT IT MEANS AS A PRESERVICE TEACHER STEPPING INTO SOMEONE ELSES CLASSROOM

The actions of T marked me as a student teacher not a teacher. Changes the dynamic of the class and who had the power in the situation. The students were engaged in what I was teaching so they came back to me and continued with the task, rather than think She is a student teacher what is the point in listening? I observed a few times when classroom management is more of a struggle when the class is boring, and the teacher has no enthusiasm for what they are teaching. I have observed these students and have helped them 1:1 in maths lessons, but I have not been their teacher. When having a new class I should have a short intro to myself, and my expectations. When I have my own classes I will do an exercise where we draw up our classroom plan, a collaborative document that outlines everyones rights and responsibilities. Should I have just answered the question? Possibly but I felt it was used as distraction, so if I meet Ss expectations that she can get some extra attention from teachers whatever she does will it become a pattern where she always has something to ask. The desire to want to ask questions is not a bad thing in itself but how can this be targeted in a more positive way? I dont know if I have all the answers to this question, but in other classes I have observed the bad student get really engaged when asked to think of crazy real world examples, and in this situation being the wacky odd kid is an advantage rather than a hindrance. I think I should have confronted the teacher at the end and explained that it was good that she was looking out for me but that I had the situation under control and that my expectations of her are to only step in when really needed. I hope when I have a PST of my own I allow them to make mistakes and then pick themselves up from it. We constantly hear that you learn from mistakes, why was this situation treated differently? If I had made a mistake and the case had escalated then I would have learnt how to diffuse the situation and how to rebuilt the trust of the class.
DIFFERING CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT STYLES AND WHAT IT MEANS AS A PRESERVICE TEACHER STEPPING INTO SOMEONE ELSES CLASSROOM

References
Beadle, P. & Murphy, J., 2013. Why are you shouting at us?: The dos and donts of behaviour management, Bloomsbury Academic. Mindtools.com (n.d.) Betari Box - Communication Skills Training from MindTools.com. [Online] Available at: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCS_82.htm [Accessed: 31 May 2013].

DIFFERING CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT STYLES AND WHAT IT MEANS AS A PRESERVICE TEACHER STEPPING INTO SOMEONE ELSES CLASSROOM