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Abstract

This assignment explores ways in which children can learn to behave appropriately in school, and so in society. The main aim was to critically analyse strategies which schools and individuals (teachers, support staff and children) use to manage behavior and to consider how behavior management might (or might not) lead to children learning generally appropriate behavior. For this purpose, information was gathered through a case-study report and through analysis of materials presented in books, course materials and professional publications.

The results of this study show aspects of value in the many different models of behavior management currently in use. They also reveal several key deficiencies. More importantly, the need for an integrated approach (involving school, home and the wider community) when applying behavioral policy is emphasised; these conclusions were supported by evidence from case-studies and from my own teaching experience.

Reflecting wider concerns in society about the behavior of young people, the DFES has identified behavior management as one of its key policy areas. Each head-teacher is expected to have a system in place which:

  • Promotes self-discipline and proper regard for authority among students
  • Encourages good behavior and respect for others
  • Ensures students’ standard of behavior is acceptable
  • Regulates students’ conduct

(DFES, 2007)

Such a system, however, is necessarily only “part of the story”. Pupils’ behavior is influenced by a myriad of factors, including their interactions with staff, parents and wider society, their own personalities, their health problems and their learning environment (Fuller et al, 1994). Croll et.al (1985) stated that “the majority of teachers consider ‘home background’ to be the most significant factor in ‘problem behavior”. School policy cannot and does not aim to control all of these factors, rather it aims to provide a framework in which teachers, parents, support staff and students can work to eliminate “problem” behavior and promote positive relationships.

There is great debate in the literature about the methods and final aims of achieving acceptable behavior standards in schools. Initially at least, behavior management is a simple requirement of effective teaching, in that behavior that disrupts the learning process conflicts with the basic aims of the teacher. How far, and how effectively, school discipline affects pupils’ behavior in wider society is unclear – and some researchers have argued that societal discipline is de facto the responsibility of all areas of society, and not just the education system.

This paper critically examines a variety of different behavioral theories and policies, taken from the literature and from my own experience in teaching, and attempts to summarise the evidence supporting and undermining each case. Analysis in each case is based on two main criteria:

  • Does the policy provide effective behavior control for classroom management?
  • Does the policy influence extra-curricular behavior?

This work is supported by reference to a case-study and to other relevant classroom experience, and concludes with a summary of the information gained.

Section 1:Behavior in Schools: Theory and Practice