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As my placement continued, it became increasingly clear to
me that behaviour management more than
any other aspect of teaching was proving a serious concern. Indeed, this was
highlighted throughout my early observations and my initial PRP (see figure 2).
The opportunity and necessity for change came when my mentor was forced to take
an extended absence away from the class for several weeks and I was left
covering the class alone. It was at this time that the behavioural issues which had always been evident within my lessons became increasingly
pronounced. Reflecting on a particularly poor first week teaching alone, I
decided it was time to fully embrace both aspects of B.F. Skinners operant
conditioning, with a particular emphasis on the negative reinforcement aspect
of the theory I had initially neglected during my early practice. Research
had shown that this aspect of Skinner’s theory
was far more effective at sparking initial behavioural
changes than positive reinforcements, which were found to be better suited to
maintaining positive behaviours and
preventing regressions and I was keen to test this out (Martella et al, 2012). This
change in behavioural approaches was introduced
gradually over the course of a week in several stages. To begin I made it very
clear to the class what my expectations were going to be from this point on,
with the introduction of clear and consistent systems for rewards and sanctions.
The centrepiece of this change was the ‘happy/sad
list’ which was to be ever-present within
the classroom on the main whiteboard. The concept was a simple one, if children were well engaged and well
behaved they were added to the happy list, if they misbehaved or were
disengaged they were added to the sad list. Once names were added to the lists,
every point tallied against their name would then represent 2 minutes of their
lunchtime, be it losing time or going out early. This method would seek to incentivise positive behaviours throughout the lesson and would come to represent a pseudo-competitive
game for students to see who could tally up the most points, an effective
strategy for classroom management (Lam et
al, 2004). When dealing with negative behaviours,
I next began to specifically make a point of following through with every
detail of threatened sanctions. One key example of this being the use of stopwatches
to time the minutes taken away from students. This made sure the children were completely
aware that they would be made to wait for every second and not be let off easy,
as had been endemic in my early practice. Additionally, I also began to have
private chats with children about their behaviour
as part of their sanctions, an effort which research suggested could help to
determine the causes of such behavioural
issues and how best to eliminate them (Adams, 2009). By the time my mentor had
returned the low-level disruption and frequent behavioural
episodes endemic to my early lessons were almost entirely eliminated, unrecognisable from what they had been
previously (see figure 3). This fact was reflected throughout my later observations
and final PRP (see figure 4). I now feel more confident than ever in my
abilities to maintain a solid presence within the classroom and elicit
appropriate behavioural changes through
positive and negative reinforcement strategies.

               In conclusion, the effective deployment of behaviour management strategies within a
classroom environment, both in terms of positive rewards and negative sanctions
are essential to the process of effective teaching and learning. While I still
believe I have a long way to go in order to truly master my behaviour management, particularly within the
context of a new school, classroom, and
key stage. From the evidence provided, I
believe it is clear that I have made great strides thus far within this area
and hope to continue to do so through a combination of critical reflection and
the continued application of new research strategies to my practice. Of
particular importance to me during this time will be to cement my behavioural expectations and strategies as
early as possible into my new classroom. It is my hope that solidifying my
presence within the class as one of authority early on, will allow me to elicit
behavioural changes effectively. Without the
need for the challenges and difficulties I initially faced when I was forced to
switch strategies mid-way through my first placement. This, in turn, will allow
me to focus more specifically on strength-based reflection, rather than
deficit-based reflection, permitting me to further enhance my teaching

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