Creating a positive learning environment within the classroom is a necessary prerequisite for an effective teaching-learning process and it has been the major challenge faced by teachers during the curriculum transaction. For this, an efficient teacher should employ the best approaches, methods, and strategies of teaching, keeping in mind the major theories of classroom management. The essay tries to make a comparative and contrastive study of the major approaches to classroom management employed in the Australian classrooms and tries to identify the best approach to classroom management that suits best for the diversity in the classroom.
The very concept of classroom management has undergone drastic changes as the role of teachers and students in the classroom has been redefined. The teacher-dominant Authoritarian approach to the classroom no longer suits the changed educational scenario where the teaching-learning process is highly interactive and learner-centered. Thus, there has taken place a great paradigm shift in the teaching-learning process “from instrumentalist to constructivist views on teaching, learning, and behavior and from teacher direction to student self-direction.” (Fields 2). The Behavioural Approach to classroom management deserves primary attention in this regard.
Fields stress the role of productive pedagogies that promote cultural diversity in Australian classrooms. For him, the two key dimensions of classroom management in Australian classrooms are the ‘Supportive Classroom Environment’ and the ‘Recognition of Difference’. Under the first dimension, an efficient teacher is “expected to foster an environment where students are self-regulating and able to influence classroom activities and how these activities are implemented.” (Fields 4).
Classroom management should also take into account the non-dominant groups and their cultural diversity. Thus, ‘Recognition of Difference’, is not only the “acceptance and tolerance of diversity;” rather students are to be taught to celebrate and consider their cultural diversity as a positive element and for this, the teacher should be able to accommodate and support the aborigines who very often underperform or display divergent behavior patterns in the classroom.
When it comes to classroom management with Aboriginal students in Australia, very often teachers fail to understand the cultural diversity of the group and because of their lack of understanding knowledge regarding their cultural and social life.
Teachers tend to judge students based on their own understanding and value system. So, it is mandatory that teachers have a clear-cut understanding of the real problems faced by these students so that it becomes easy for them to solve these issues. As Maureen Ah Sam and Craig Ackland put it: “to be responsive, teachers need to be conscious of the differing and diverse cultural backgrounds that students and teachers bring with them to the educational setting.” (Sam and Ackland, p. 192). Thus a social and cultural approach to classroom management is essential.
The Psychoeducational approaches to classroom and behavior management focus on the improvement of the self-perceptions of students which include their idea of self-concept and self-esteem. For this, the teacher should know of the physical and psychological environment and how they formulate negative feelings and thoughts in the minds of students. The approach is based on the Goal centered theory of Rudolf Dreikurs and the Choice Theory of William Glasser.
The Goal Centred Theory asks the teachers to know of ‘the mistaken goals of attention seeking’ followed by students and guide them through the proper channel. The Choice Theory suggests that children have innate drives for power, freedom, love, and fun and very often the choices and decisions made by them are to satisfy their basic biological or physical needs. This understanding regarding the psychological functioning of the student’s behavior is the key to effective classroom management.
Classroom management becomes problematic when teachers are not able to cope with their strategies and methods of teaching with the changed social and cultural life of the students. The study by the researchers showed that most of the teachers were dissatisfied with their profession because of the misbehavior displayed by students to them. A possible solution to this challenge, as pointed out by the Western Australian Report Disruptive Behaviour in Schools, is to instill ‘self-discipline and respect for others’ in the minds of students and to cherish a feeling of ‘self-worth’ (Quoted in A New Tradition in Classroom Management).
The new tradition for classroom management should be based on the democratic social system rather than the authoritarian system and democratic values like “social equality, mutual respect, shared responsibility, co-operation, and self-discipline.” (A New Tradition in Classroom Management, 5) are to be promoted. The Positive Behaviour Leadership Model propagated by Bill Rogers provides new insights into behavior management in the classroom.
He exhorts teachers to develop a ‘decisive or democratic teaching style’ where the teacher neither follows the authoritative or the Laissez-faire approach. Instead, he wants teachers to be decisive teachers who aim for “students’ cooperation rather than their compliance and uses supportive respectful language in a firm and accomplishing tone.” (Chapter 9: The Positive Behaviour Leadership Model).
A comparative and contrastive analysis of the above-discussed approaches to classroom management is essential to know which approach best suits Australian classrooms. Education is regarded as the round development of the personality of the individual and for this purpose, a combination of the above-mentioned approaches would be desirable. Each of the mentioned approaches and strategies of classroom management focuses on certain areas of child development and therefore a comprehensive approach is the need of the time.
The behavioral approach to classroom management focuses on the right formation of the behavioral patterns in students whereas the social and cultural approach to classroom management puts emphasis on the cultural diversity of the nation and seeks to mold socially responsible and committed citizens within the classrooms.
One can never do away with the Psycho-Educational approaches to classroom management as many students need constant psychological support to overcome their psychological and mental depressions. The Democratic approach to the classroom stands as the key approach in the Australian environment and only when everyone is provided equal access to education and is trained for democratic leadership, one can expect positive outputs from all other approaches. Students should know about their positive strengths as well as the areas they need improvement and the various approaches to classroom management should facilitate this learning process of knowing oneself.
Thus, it is evident from the above discussion that the Democratic and Behavioural approaches to classroom management best suit the diverse Australian students are concerned. The teacher should treat everyone equally and should instill democratic principles in the minds of all citizens.
The indigenous Aborigines are to be given the utmost care and their cultural diversity is to be taken into account. As the official site of the Australian Government Department of Education states: “Education as an institution and teachers as its agents must respect diversity and acknowledge the distinct cultural identities which together form the national identity of Australia.” (Taking Action). Thus, it can be concluded that under the Australian social and cultural environment a democratic approach to classroom management would suit best.
Fields, Barry A. Productive Pedagogies & Discipline: The Challenge of Aligning Teaching and Behaviour Management. Faculty of Education, University of Southern Queensland. (provided by the customer).
Quoted in A New Tradition in Classroom Management. Understanding Classroom Behaviour. Louden, 1985. (provided by the customer).
A New Tradition in Classroom Management. Understanding Classroom Behaviour. (provided by the customer).
Chapter 9: The Positive Behaviour Leadership Model: Bill Rogers. Part 2 Discipline Models. (provided by the customer).
Taking Action. What Works. The Work Program, Improving Outcomes for Indigenous Students. The Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Work Place Relations. 2008. Web.
Sam, Maureen Ah., and Ackland, Craig. Chapter 12: The Curriculum: a Doorway to Learning. (provided by the customer).