Understanding and Managing Behaviour in the Learning Environment Essay
Understanding and Managing Behaviour in the Learning Environment
As teachers, we have a duty of care to understand and be aware of the current legislation that can have an influence on the management of behaviour in the learning environment. Managing behaviour is an area that can determine that all learners have the right to achieve; therefore, it is important that we understand the legal implications fully in an educational institute. Below is an example of these policies that are relevant to my own teaching. The Equality Act 2010 (The Equality Act 2010, 2012), has replaced the previous acts, primarily the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Disability Act 1995 and the Race Relations Act 1976 with one overarching policy that relates to equal opportunities for all regardless of their disability, race, gender, sexual orientation. It is important when recruiting learners that there is a clear understanding of their ability and background, if a learner goes through the induction process and has been mismatched to the course then their behaviour in the classroom could be disruptive or non inclusive.
This could be down to boredom or inability to do the level that they have selected for. In turn these factors can cause difficulties for the teacher to keep the learner engaged. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 are standards which affect workers and others who carry out any work activity. (health and safety legislation). The health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is relevant to managing behaviour with regard to a safe and resourceful environment. Having a large group of learners in a practical class for example, has its risks; if a learner were to have an accident due to lack of knowledge regarding a risk assessment, This would inevitably disrupt the smooth running of the class and could lead to the learner missing classes and falling behind therefore the management of these acts is crucial to ensure all learners and staff are aware of their responsibilities in the learning environment. Looking at the policies in place where I work, the one policy that stands out as problematic is the attendance policy.
The policy states that if a learner is unable to attend a training session then the learner must inform the tutor within one hour of the start time of the session. If the learner is to be absent through sickness the learner must provide a doctors certificate. It also states that the learner has a fifteen-minute grace period for lateness before the learner is marked as a problem. This policy is straightforward and easily understood. However, the part that makes it difficult to implement is the consequences if not adhered to by the learner. There are few consequences for lateness or a learner missing sessions on a regular basis because of the very laws in place to protect the learner. If a learner is absent on a regular basis do we exclude the learner? Many situations are reasonable explanations of why a learner’s attendance is erratic; however there is a need for a policy change regarding how the late learner is dealt with to provide a system that is fair to all learners.
For example a case study of a learner within my own group of learners that I will refer to as learner x, demonstrates how managing behaviour within the group can become a challenge. Learner x is bipolar and is considered a vulnerable learner. Learner x only attends two days per week as oppose to four; therefore the tutor is continuously supporting the learner with work missed. The learner is academically capable of the level assigned to her. The learner is willing to work but with a lot of one to one support, (in itself difficult to achieve if the learner’s attendance is not regular), already managing a group that has different abilities takes the skill of the tutor to manage the learning environment effectively to avoid little disruption for those that do attend regularly and work hard. Learner x has been on the course for a lot longer than predicted she can only attend two out of the four days that the course requires, she has regular medication that can make her tired if not taken at the correct times.
When learner x is having a bad day she will often seek attention by accusing other students of bullying, this is not the case but a part of the condition she has causes paranoia. The majority of the time the learner x gets on and works well but on occasion if learner x has a bad day then this takes time away from the rest of the group. To summarise the difficulties in managing behaviour in the learning environment and reviewing the attendance policy I would firstly remove the fifteen-minute grace period for lateness. I believe this just encourages the learner to arrive fifteen minutes late. Trying to implement consequences is far more difficult given the current legislation.
One of the ways that can achieve a balanced learning environment, where the group as a whole can benefit is to firstly know your learners and encourage them to take some responsibility of their learning. I try to give responsibility that I know each learner is capable of, for example, I would group together a learner with leadership qualities with a learner who needs support, and this I find benefits both learners. All learners have the right to learn. Understanding the learning environment as a teacher is vital to their success.
Task 2: Negative or disruptive behaviour which is demonstrated by an individual Learner y spends a lot of the time being uncooperative in the classroom. Learner y also likes to gain allies in her endeavour to be non-cooperative. The learner often just looks blankly at me when asked to start a task or will role her eyes in an attempt to gain a negative response. The learner causes disruption in the sense that my attention is drawn away from the rest of the group when dealing with this learner. The impact that this has causes the course delivery to slow down and wastes time. Learner y is capable of doing the course but appears lazy most of the time. I do not believe that the learner is lazy because when learner y is cooperative her work is of a very good standard and she will work hard.
There is of course the impact of the learner’s ally in this situation, the ally is being dominated by learner y and is therefore missing the opportunity to demonstrate her own potential. The group as a whole tend to avoid learner y, this leaves her with just her dominated ally, and together they are falling behind. Of course I have looked into different ways to change this behaviour but it has not been easy. Understanding why this learner behaves the way she does for me is a process of elimination. Initially the learner comes across as an attention seeker (Petty, 2009), describes this as, “Attention seeking students are usually extrovert, and seem to enjoy the attention of the teacher and the class, even if the attention is negative.” This statement is a similar description of learner y, however the extrovert part is not a word I would use when describing her personality, My interpretation of this learner would be passive aggressive and she will often be disruptive in other ways that are more subtle but still seeking attention. According to (Harrn, 2011), the traits of passive aggressive behaviour she shows are. Non Communication
Avoiding and ignoring
After getting to know the learner over a period of time the one thing the learner lacks is self-esteem. The learner has difficulty with reading and writing and appears to hide this by being difficult rather than asking for help. The course is of a practical nature but does have written assignments, the learner can find ways of compensating for this if the learner has had to write anything she has the computer to help her with spelling mistakes, grammar and punctuation. I have come to understand that the attention seeking tendencies are to distract others from thinking she may not understand the question or the exercise in any given lesson. I also see her dominating approach to her ally is so she does not feel isolated when she is disciplined for her lack of cooperation. There have been times when learner y has excelled in her work and surprised me. It is apparent that the learner has specific needs to overcome the low self-esteem problem.
From looking at the student’s learning style this presents itself as auditory although this is a small exercise in determining how a learner learns it is of benefit to me as a teacher to understand the learner’s reactions to the learning environment. Learner y shows a lot of resistance when asked to complete a task whether it is practical or theory based. I believe the problem lies in the learner having a fear of achievement assuming that she cannot achieve. Learner y displays a defensive nature. Learner y was excluded from school in year nine and attended a specialist institute and went on to a college and achieved a level one course but has stated that she did not enjoy the course. Learner y was diagnosed as dyslexic in primary school but did not get specialist help once she reached secondary school. With all this information regarding the learner I have to find ways of getting learner y to engage. My first attempt to get learner y to engage in the lesson was to sit and talk to her one to one and ask her what she expected of the course. Her reaction surprised me her interest lies more in one of her subjects than the other and this was causing her to become bored which led her to be disruptive.
We managed to come up with an individual learning plan that would take her down her chosen career path rather than working towards goals she did not need. I was made aware of her dyslexia late into her starting the course and therefore did not know this was diagnosed as a learning difficulty for her. With hindsight this answered a lot of questions and now we are working on supporting her written work and her reading so she can understand the coursework assigned to her. Separating Learner y from her ally during the lesson is beneficial during some tasks but on occasion learner y becomes more resistant when this has been tried. It seems she works harder when with the other learner and given support and guidance.
I have seen that there is more improvement in her attitude towards learning when she is praised for her efforts this has given her a little more confidence to speak up in a positive way. The last few weeks have seen a turn around with learner y she has become less disruptive and more willing to take part within the group. Learner y has come to trust my judgement although this took some analysis on my part to understand how and why she behaves the way she does. After reading (Petty, 2009) the one approach that did work with learner y is the one to one chat Non directive adult–to-adult style. I believe this had an enormous effect on the learner’s sense of being heard.
Learner y needs support to build her confidence to get her where she wants to be. She has learning difficulties that need to be supported. It will take time to get her to her desired goals but with hard work and determination from myself and the learner there should be no reason why she cannot achieve what she has set out to achieve. My own development needs
The need for me to continuously update within my vocational area is paramount. This will enable my learners to gain the most valid and current information. I strive to work on my maths skills as this is a weak area for me but plays an important part of the subject that I deliver I am average at number work but would like to improve on this.
The Equality Act 2010. (2012, October 23rd). Retrieved December 2nd, 2012, from Department for Education: http://www.education.gov.uk/aboutdfe/policiesandprocedures/equalityanddiversity/a0064570/-equality-act-2010 Harrn, A. (2011, May 13th). What is Passive Aggresive Behaviour. Retrieved December 14/12/12, 2012, from Councelling
Directory: http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/counsellor-articles/what-is-passive-aggressive-behaviour health and safety legislation. (n.d.). Retrieved December 2nd, 2012, from www.atl.org.uk: http://www.atl.org.uk/health-and-safety/legal-framework/health-safety-legislation.asp Petty, G. (2009). Teaching Today a Practical guide 4th Edition. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes.
Task 2: Negative or disruptive behaviour, which is demonstrated by an individual or in a group in my class. Case Study:
A case study based upon a real experience with a learner. Learner y had been on the course for a year and had some time out due to personal problems and problems within the organisation where I worked due to staff shortages. This particular day the learner arrived at least an hour late indicating that she had to deal with a friend’s personal issue and that she had been up all night and would like to discuss it with me. I briefly listened to what she had to say and asked that we discuss it in more detail later as the class was in full flow during a practical session. The learner began by bringing food into the practical class and was uncooperative when asked to put it away until lunchtime her response was she has not eaten yet. This was not the first incident with this learner. Usually learner y responds to reason and encouragement this particular day her behaviour just escalated into what I can only describe as a tantrum using abusive language and accusing the staff of not teaching her how they should be. This led me exclude her from the classroom.
The whole incident disrupted everyone throughout the latter half of the lesson. On reflection this situation was going to erupt from the moment learner y arrived even with the all the skills in teaching that I have gained there were subtle indicators that would, under less busy situations led me to read the signs. I know this learner well and I know that her home life is disruptive. Learner y at the time was in a transition period, coming out of care and living independently waiting to be housed in her own accommodation. The learner had been involved in a stressful incident the night before. There are mitigating circumstances to why this particular incident was as ineffective as it could have been on this particular occasion. The classroom was very busy with students all doing a practical task there were clients in the salon area and a colleague had arrived for a meeting. I also had a trainee teacher working with the learners whom alerted me to learner y’s ongoing behaviour.
Learner y is a vulnerable learner and the only place she has consistency in her life is at college. Learner why has a pattern of behaviour this can be handled with encouragement and setting tasks that give her a sense of independence and achievement. Learner y works well in a group situation too. However, learner y has childlike qualities that cause her to be disruptive if she is not getting the attention she sometimes craves. As Petty indicates, ‘The best strategy is to accept the need for attention, but encourage the student to get this attention from ‘legitimate needs’ (Petty, 2009). Learner y has many personal issues to deal with but from this wants to learn and better herself so that she can be independent, therefore taking all these circumstances into account, it is understandable that from time to time her behaviour is going to be difficult.
Learner y is a young vulnerable adult that has responsibilities way beyond her experience. At the same time, she has a need for stability and nurture not easy for any youngster without a network of support. There is a support network for the student that has social needs and this extends to outside agencies working with the students and the staff. Learner y has access to all of these resources but does not wish to use them mostly because she does not trust the system. This seems to be a common theme for vulnerable learners.