“Classroom management refers to the skills and strategies that teachers use to organize instruction and maximize the productive use of their instructional time” (Moreno, 2011, p.408). According to Roxana Moreno, classroom management consists of many variables like the lesson plan, organization, wittiness, overlapping, adapting, leadership, physical arrangement, classroom rules and classroom procedures” (Moreno, 2011, p. 410-419). Among these variables, one of the important variables is setting classroom rules and imposing them on the students.
The intense use of classroom rules only has positive impacts on students inside the classroom. Classroom rules are “The “dos and don’ts” of classroom behaviors and corresponding consequences” (Moreno, 2011, P. 417). “For effective learning, classroom needs to have a peaceful environment, because a disruptive class will create stress for teachers and other students” (Buluc, 2006,p.31). In order to create that peaceful environment classroom rules are needed. According to “Educational Research Quarterly” written by Bekir Buluc, classroom rules are important because rules give the students an idea about teacher’s role in the classroom. He also wrote that rules should prevent the unexpected behavioral problem and “rules should be designed to teach effective behavior and to create a stable foundation from which children learn to face a risky world” (p.31-32). “Well-established rules and routines are more important for providing structure and orientation to the students; to relieve the teacher’s’ daily work and to create a daily routine for students” (Steffensky, Gold, Holdynski & Moller, p. 355). At the beginning of the school year, a teacher should construct a set of classroom rules with the help of the students and discuss the consequences of disobeying these rules ( Steffensky, Gold, Holdynski, Moller, 2015, p.355). If teachers do not stick to their own rules and do not impose the consequences of breaking these rules, it gives the students impression that they can do whatever they want in the classroom (Tartwijk, Brok, Veldman & Wubbels, 2009, P.457). Teachers can take help from the students to establish the classroom rules because it will provide the students more clarity about the rules and “promotes their sense of self-determination and self-esteem” (Moreno, 2011, P. 418). During my fieldwork, I have observed a 6th-grade class where the teacher has made and discussed the classroom rules with the students at the beginning of the school year. So, the students are clear about what their teacher expects from them in the classroom. If some students disobey the classroom rules, the teacher never forgets to impose the consequences. These rules are helping her to manage the classroom effectively and increase the students’ “time-on-task”. After observing her class, I am positively influenced by her classroom management skills.
If the teachers try to control their students intensely by the use of classroom rules, students can experience negative impression from their teachers. “Extreme controlling and checking of the classroom rules creates anxiety, a monotonous atmosphere in the class, even unfairness, prevents the flexibility of some various rules and mechanize the relations” (Buluc, 2006, p.48). Students feel less trustworthy when their teachers impose a lot of strict rules inside the classroom in order to control them (Arslan & Polat, 2016, p.87). After considering these facts, I will still support that the classroom rules are important for students. Because these rules teach the student’s lifelong value of becoming responsible for their own action and as individuals showing respect towards each other. On the other hand, to resolve the problem of controlling the students too much with classroom rules can be solved with few steps. Buluc wrote that “Nonfunctional rules should be reviewed and the necessary changes and precautions mechanism should be taken immediately; both teachers and students should not be confused by too many rules. With the sole goal of fulfilling this objective, students, parents, the other teachers in the school should organize meetings from time to time and discuss classroom problems and their solutions” (Buluc, 2006,p.48).
“Motivation to learn can be defined as the psychological process that direct and sustain student’s behavior towards learning” (Moreno,2010, p.328). In his book “Educational Psychology” Roxana Moreno said that “some experts have argued that learning and motivation are so interdependent that it is impossible to understand learning without understanding motivation” (2011, p.328). In his text, he also said that highly motivated students are more likely achieve academic success than students who are less motivated (Moreno, 2011, p.328-329). Moreno described two types of motivation, they are intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. “Intrinsic motivation is defined as the motivation to be involved in a learning activity for its own sake” and “extrinsic motivation is defined as the motivation be involved in a learning activity as a means to an end” (Moreno, 2011,p.329).
In classrooms, a teacher should promote intrinsic motivation over extrinsic motivation. “The primary theoretical explanation of intrinsic motivation defines intrinsic motivation as engagement in a task for reasons inherent to the task itself, such as interest or enjoyment, rather than for external use, such as monetary rewards” (Kover and Worrell,2010,p.473). During several studies, a positive correlation was found among intrinsic motivation and academic achievement and the researchers suggest that declining in intrinsic motivation may negatively affect the student’s’ achievement (Lepper, Iyengar, & Corpus, 2005, p.185). “A number of studies have indicated that rewards, or other concerns that are external to the task at hand, can diminish the intrinsic motivation to engage in that task” (Kover & Worrell, 2005, P.471). “Researchers believed originally that extrinsic motivation implied a lack of self-determination in the behaviors performed” (Noels, Clement & Pelletier, 1999, P..24). “Individuals are most intrinsically motivated when they feel that they exercised some personal choice in pursuing the valued actions” (Kover & Worrell, 2010, p. 473). “What was found, was that, if given a choice, students were willing to do much more work on their own towards mastery of a subject than if told exactly what to do, how to do it and when to turn it in” (Gillard, Gillard & Pratt, 2015, P.3). “By interacting with students in ways that develop their autonomy and competence, teachers may change the student’s’ type of motivation and thereby contributes to better learning” (Noels, Clement & Pelletier, 1999, P.310). “Teachers can create classroom conditions that help the extrinsically motivated student become more intrinsically motivated such as when they present challenging activities, allow students to gain control over their own learning or speak their curiosity with attitude toward thought-provoking question” (Moreno,2011,p.330).
Critics may argue that students are more responsive toward extrinsic motivation than intrinsic motivation. “ Extrinsically motivated behavior are those behaviors that are performed not because of inherent interest in the activity, but in order to arrive at some instrumental end, such that the source of regulation is external to the activity per se” (Noels, Clement & Pelletier,1999, p.24). “When a teacher always focuses on the importance of learning a concept because students will need it to perform well in high-stakes tests, she creates an environment that induces extrinsic motivation” (Moreno,2010,p.330). Uses of incentives have a great impact on motivating students extrinsically. For example, when Ms.Shang understood that her students were not intrinsically motivated for learning fraction, she used incentives (getting extra points and exchanging accumulated points for privileges) to motivate them extrinsically. As a result, students became immediately responsive towards learning fraction (Moreno,2010,p.333). Praise, rewards, social recognition, obligation removal are effective incentives for motivating students extrinsically. “For unpleasant and unappealing academic activities, extrinsic motivation might represent a strategic process to support learning” (Lemos, Verissimo, 2014, p.931). After considering these facts, I still think a teacher should promote intrinsic motivation over extrinsic motivation in her classroom. It may be easier for a teacher to engage students in learning using extrinsic motivation. But, research showed that children who are extrinsically motivated by “a desire for easy work and an aim to please their teachers, they performed worse both on standardized tests and in regular classroom assessments” (Lepper, Corpus & Iyengar, 2005, p.192).“Students with an extrinsic motivation to learn are more likely to process information and to meet only minimum classroom requirements” (Moreno, 2010, p.329). This type of motivation towards education can keep students away from the perception of competence and enjoy the learning experience. “Extrinsic motivation (e.g. performance goals) indicates that extrinsic motives may be associated with adaptive patterns of learning but only under certain circumstances, depending on the outcomes assessed, on student’s age, or on the classroom context” (Lemos, Verissimo, 2014, p.931).
“In the average U.S. classroom approximately 50% of students are girls and 50% of boys, 40% of students are in free or reduced lunch programs, 20% are English language learners, and 13% are in special education programs” (Moreno,2010,p.26).These numbers represent the diversity of a regular classroom in this country. “The percentage of students with disabilities served in general education classroom has risen steadily” ((Burstein, Sears,Wilcoxen,Cabello & Spagna, 2004,p.104). “Traditionally, children requiring special educational needs are segregated into several learning environment”(Wang,2009,p.154). Many educators, critics, and analysts argue over the fact that students with special educational needs should or should not be included in mainstream schools and they bring several benefits as well as issues relating to this important educational matter(Wang,2009,p.154).
Students with disabilities should be a part of the mainstream classrooms. “In the 1970s, a series of major special education laws were enacted, starting with public law 94-142, the education for All Handicapped Children Act, which prescribed a free, appropriate public education for every child, and ending in 1990 with public law 101-476, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)” (Moreno,2010, p.49). According to Roxana Moreno’s “Educational Philosophy,” “In 1982, the Supreme Court defined appropriate education as one that is specially and individually designed to provide educational benefits to a certain student” (2010, p.49). In agreement with this law, children should be educated in the least restrictive environment which has brought the idea of inclusion means “moving students with exceptionalities from segregated setting into regular classrooms” (Moreno,2010,p.49). “The inclusion of all pupils in mainstream schools is part of an international human rights agenda which calls for the full inclusion of all people with disabilities in all aspects of life” (Florian,1998, p.107). “Inclusion, a philosophy of acceptance, belonging and community, also means that general education classes are structured to meet the needs of all the students in the class” (Moore & Gilbreath,1998,p.2). “Specifically, inclusion aims to benefit special children through improvements in their learning outcomes, including their social skills, academic achievement and personal development” (Wang, 2009,p.155). “The current strategy of The Centre for Studies in Inclusive Education is to transform education so that everyone can feel welcome and respected in their own local school. They see inclusion as a way to eliminate prejudice making anyone school appropriate for all” (McMurray & Thompson, 2016, p.634). “There are no legitimate reasons to separate children for the duration of their schooling. They belong together rather than need to be protected from one another” (Florian, 1998, p.107). “The literature suggests that successful inclusive schools provide a unified educational system in which general and special educators work collaboratively to provide comprehensive and integrated services and programming for all students” (Burstein,Sears,Wilcoxen,Cabello & Spagna, 2004,p.104-105)”. “The evidence for the potential effectiveness of shared education for pupils with severe learning difficulties is strong. It provides disabled pupils with the chance to engage in interaction with other nondisabled children, which could lead to improvements in social confidence, social interaction and a more in-depth integration into the community” (McMurray & Thompson,2016, p.637). “Inclusion is capable of enhancing children’s academic achievement through speech and language programs, improved parent-teacher communication, greater use of group work, a student participation in class discussions, and increased community acceptance of people with disabilities” (Wang,2009,p.155). “Several studies have found that students with mild disabilities who have been included in general education classrooms make better gains than those in pull-out programs or control schools” (Moore & Gilbreath,1998,p.5). “For students with more moderate or severe disabilities, studies have demonstrated that participation in general education environments results in some academic increases and behavioral and social progress” (Moore & Gilbreath, 1998,p.6). “Hollowood, Salisbury, Rainforth and Palombaro(1995) found that the quantity and level of time spent on instruction for students without disabilities was not adversely affected by the presence in the class of students with severe disabilities” (Moore & Gilbreath,1998,p.7). “Evans, et al.(1994) found that children who attended classrooms with fully included peers with severe disabilities were able to display sophisticated judgments and suggestions when presented with scenarios of common situations” (Moore & Gilbreath,1998,p.8). “ A further study(Cole,1991) examined the social integration of children with disabilities in 43 Minnesota classroom. The two-year study compared integrated and segregated (special education only) sites and determined that developmental skill progress was similar in both types of schools, but that children in integrated sites progressed in social skill development while the segregated children actually regressed” (Wang,2009,p.155). “Connolly, Purvis & O’Grady, recorded that education stakeholders believed that shared school networks would allow a more effective coordination of services and support for children with disabilities” (McMurray & Thompson, 2016, 637). “Teachers consistently reported the benefits of inclusion for students and faculty in both general and special education” (Burstein, Sears, Wilcoxen, Cabello & Spagna, 2004,p.113).
Students with disabilities should not be a part of the mainstream classrooms. “Although the movement for full inclusion is a part of a broad human rights agenda that argues that all forms of segregation are normally wrong, difficult implementation problem arises when the movement’s ideas are applied to education for pupils with special educational need” (Florian,1998,p.107). “Consistently, the evidence has suggested that general education teachers feel unprepared to serve students with disabilities, have little time available to collaborate, and few accommodations for students with special needs” (“Hollowood, Salisbury, Rainforth,& Palombaro,2004,p.104). “In fact, inclusion in some situations (for example, of a student with autism) may be more like exclusion because the student’s need is not being met and appropriate services not provided in the regular classroom. The stigmatization of students with labels will not disappear by simply placing students in regular schools as they, and their peers, will need to be taught appropriate social and academic skills” ( Knight,1999,p.4).“Schnorr’s (1990) seven month investigation of the way in which a classroom of first graders viewed and interacted with a student with moderate disabilities who was mainstreamed only on part-time basis revealed that the part-time student was considered an “outsider” by the other students in the class”(Moore & Gilbreath,1998,p.2). “High profile critiques on inclusion, most significantly Warnock(2005), have identified that for some groups, such as children with ASD or severe learning difficulties, the experience of inclusion in the mainstream can be very negative” ((McMurray & Thompson,2016, p.634). “The results of some of the studies show that parents of children with severe disabilities who moved from integrated from inclusion programs believe that their children lost services, were mistreated and were isolated by peers who were not disabled” (Duhaney & Salend, 2000,p. 122). “For parents of children without disabilities, concerns related to fears that the needs of students with disabilities would be so great as to interfere with or compromise their children’s education, and to the availability of qualified and trained educators”(Duhaney & Salend, 2000,p. 122). “20 percent of students [in a regular classroom] require special education, but because they are not categorized as ‘disabled,’ they are not eligible for special services.This current system defines children as either disabled or not disabled, with no in-between” (Knight,1999,p.4). According to Huei Lan Wang, evidence set by Jenkinson, in his survey, showed that in an inclusive classroom “students with disabilities receiving too much attention and concerns with inadequate resource provision for these special students meant that students without disabilities were missing out on the attention and encouragement they needed” (Wang,2009,p.155).
Though there are lots of convincing evidence about “disabled students should not be a part of the mainstream classroom,” I will support my claim that “disabled students should be a part of the mainstream classroom.” By studying in the same classroom with the disabled students, regular students will learn that disability is not a disease and students who are disabled require friends as much as they do. Regular students will also get the chance to develop competency towards their health and mental condition as well as their privacy. A regular teacher may not have enough training to help students with severe disabilities in an inclusive classroom, so every classroom should have one special education teacher with a regular teacher. On the other hand, by studying in the same classroom with the regular students, disabled students can become emotionally strong by making friends can retain self-esteem because they will not feel segregated from the society.
“Group work is a useful component of classroom activities because, intuitively, it is an ideal tool for stimulating acts of true communication”(Davis,1997,p268). Group work means “where small groups of students work together to make sense of new information or solve a new problem” (Moreno,2010,p.303). Many educators support the use of group work inside the classroom and many educators feel that group work is a waste of valuable classroom time. In the following paragraphs, I will try to show how group work contributes positively and negatively towards students’ learning.
Through group work, students can get better opportunities of learning. “Group work contributes to a learner-focused classroom: based on the format, group work can allow for both student-student and student-teacher interaction” (Davis, 1997, p269). “In their discussion of teaching culture, Moorjani and Field suggested that today’s students prefer functional, global type explanations and oral modes of communication. Group work can help to bridge the gap between what Moorjani and Field (1988) have identified as an inherent mismatch between teachers’ and students agendas (Davis, 1997, p268)”. “The particular feature of group work-perhaps its defining characteristics is that the balance of ownership and control of the work shifts toward the pupils themselves” (Blatchford, kutnick, Baines & Galton, 2003, p.155). “Through group work, students can learn new facts and skills, reconstruct their knowledge, change attitudes, and best of all achieve all of this in a friendly environment” (Sorgo, 2017, P.28). “Working in groups allows learners to achieve higher order thinking skills and retain knowledge longer than working individually” and “ in groups students discuss, argue, explain and negotiate meaning, they become more responsible for their learning” (Taki & Al-Nouth,2014,p.53). “As the children engaged in more paired and small group activities, they reported that they could “think better”, “learn more”, and “try harder” in the social pedagogic context (Kutnick, Ota & Berdondini, 2006, p.92). “Students’ critical thinking skills are enhanced in group work. They learn how to argue, defend their position, question other students’ ideas and convince others of their own”(Taki & Al-Nouth,2014,p.56). “Group work can reduce anxiety in certain types of classroom interactions (Davis,1997,p268)”. “ Group work promotes a positive affective climate” (Long & Porter, 1985, P.211). For ESL students “Group work increase language practice opportunities” and it allows for a greater quantity and a richer variety of language practice, practice that is better adapted to individual needs and conducted in a more positive affective climate” (Long & Porter, 1985, P.208, 212). ).“ Group work improves the quality of student talk” (Long & Porter, 1985, P.208). “It has been found, for example, that small group, independent study can lead to increased motivation to study Spanish among beginning students; learners responding to a questionnaire reported that they felt less inhibited and freer to speak and make mistakes in the small group than in the teacher led class” ( Long & Porter, 1985, P. 212) “Webb(1985) and Peterson and Janicki(1979) have found that the students who learn best from co-operative interaction are those who give and receive elaborated explanations (i.e., are not simply given answers or ignored by their group mates)” (Slavin, 1987, P.33). “Research findings suggest that group work technique helps students learn better and improves their achievement” (Taki & Al-Nouth,2014,p.53). “Previous literature has further documented differences in performance between those who performed at the group level and those who performed at the individual level. It has shown that group work helps students learn and remember knowledge better than individualistic learning”(Taki & Al-Nouth,2014,p.53).
Group work does not offer students better opportunities of learning. “In everyday reality, collaborative work [or group work] does not suit all situations and some traps are hidden within, traps that include the grouping of students, fairness in grading, and absenteeism” (Sorgo,2007, p.28). “The main disadvantage of group work, however, is the dominance of one member in the group. This dominance was either affected by GPA or by nationality. It was found that when groups were multinational, one nationality would be dominant and the rest of the members would hesitate to interfere”(Taki & Al-Nouth,2014,p.62). “When one group member dominates the group, group performance reflects the group’s’ member level instead of the whole group together”(Taki & Al-Nouth,2014,p.56). In the group, “some students get praise for doing very little work while others do most of the work” (Taki & Al-Nouth,2014,p.56). “Many of the learning tasks that are assigned to pupils are not cognitively challenging and not structured for group working”(Kutnick, Ota,& Berdondini, 2008,p.84). “Competitors would prefer to work alone and would gladly escape group work if that was possible. They are always first to take additional material after it is delivered, and will rarely bring it back to the others at the right times”(Sorgo,2007, p.30). “Teachers often do not develop or support group work, and children show dependence on their teachers and are insecure and lacking trust when working in the presence of peers” (Kutnick, Ota,& Berdondini, 2008,p.84). “Teachers had little faith in pupils’ ability to work in groups. This attitude is mutually reinforcing, in that pupils had little opportunity to work effectively in groups and were not prepared for it” (Blatchford, kutnick, Baines & Galton, 2003, p.156). “Noise is one of the outstanding disadvantages that discourage many teachers from using group work. Some teachers also believe that once students are in groups, they lose control of the class”(Taki & Al-Nouth,2014,p.56). “Instructors who have used the technique can attest to the fact that students can easily get off-task during group work when out from under the watchful eye of the teacher”(Davis,1997,p271). “Teachers typically plan for their interactions with peoples, but not for interactions between pupils. This is not surprising given that a sizeable number of pupils and teachers do not appear to have specific preparation in the use of group work” (Baines, Blatchford & Chowne, 2006,p.664). “Teachers also hold the view that some pupils, particularly boys, will misbehave during group work and that this will adversely affect others and the quality of group work and its performance”(Baines, Blatchford & Chowne, 2006,p.665). “Naturalistic studies focus on the quality of children’s talk when seated in groups suggest that, although high-level communication is a necessity for promoting cognitive understanding, this type of talk is rarely found in the classroom” (Kutnick, Ota,& Berdondini, 2008,p.85). “Some highly analytical students who prefer individual work report that they expressly dislike group work and feel it be a waste of class time”(Davis,1997,p270). “The cultural background of some non-north American students who are accustomed to a teacher-centered classroom may not willing to accept instruction from another student”(Davis,1997,p270). Though there are lots of negative aspects of incorporating group work in the daily lesson plan, I still support my claim that “through group work, students get better opportunities of learning.” I think the negative aspects of group work can be changed by providing effective training to the teachers. Group work should be designed according to the students’ cognitive ability so that the group does not become too easy or extremely hard for the students. More attention should be given to the group formation and each group member should have a clear idea about their role in the certain group project. By following some rules like these, I think, teachers can reduce the negative aspects of group work inside the classroom.
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