Relationships for learning
Classroom order and discipline is most constructively based on good relationships and a sense of community. The importance of interpersonal relationships in maintaining a working atmosphere in classrooms and schools is repeatedly asserted in:
- DES/WO (1989) Discipline in Schools: Report of the Committee of Enquiry chaired by Lord Elton, London: HMSO.
At the start of each New Year it is suggested that a ‘process of establishment’ takes place, through which understandings and tacit rules about classroom life are negotiated. This ‘working consensus’ reflects the needs and coping strategies of both pupils and teachers as they strive to fulfil their classroom roles. Given the power of each to threaten the interests of the other, the working consensus represents a type of moral agreement about ‘how we will get on together’. It thus frames future actions and relationships. For the original use of the concept of working consensus, see:
- Hargreaves, D. H. (1972) Interpersonal Relationships and Education, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
For social psychological detail on rules as guides to behaviour, see:
- Collett, P. (ed) (1977) Social Rules and Social Behaviour, Oxford: Blackwell.
- Harré, R. (1974) 'Rule as a scientific concept,' in Mischel, T. (ed.) Understanding Other Persons, Oxford: Blackwell.
For a psychological approach to behaviour difficulties in school which emphasises the need for a coherent framework which takes account of the views of pupils, parents and teachers, see:
- Miller, A. (2003) Teachers, Parents and Classroom Behaviour: A Psychological Approach, Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.
Positive teacher-pupils relationships are an important factor in pupil achievement, motivation and social inclusion in school. For an examination of the relationship between positive relationships, pupil resilience, motivation and classroom management, see:
- Vitto, J. M. (2003) Relationship-Driven Classroom Management: Strategies That Promote Student Motivation, London: Sage Publications Ltd.
For a look at how power relations are constructed by teachers and pupils in classrooms through their everyday actions see:
- Manke, M.P. (1997) Classroom Power Relations: Understanding Student-Teacher Interaction, New Jersey: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates.
- Devine, D. (2003) Children Power and Schooling: How Childhood Is Structured In The Primary School, Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books.
Whilst some classroom rules are overt there are many more which are tacit. Understandings and `rules' develop in classrooms about a great many things. These might include, for example, rules about noise levels, standards of work, movement, and interpersonal relationships. On rules in educational contexts, see:
- Hargreaves, D. H., Hestor, S. K., and Mellor, F. J. (1975) Deviance in Classrooms, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Although primary schools generally appear to be friendly places, some pupils can still feel socially isolated and believe they cannot be successful on the school’s terms, no matter how hard they try. For a discussion of the possible causes of alienation and the identification of strategies to encourage all pupils to think positively about themselves and their achievements, see:
- Furlong, V. J. (1995) The Deviant Pupil, Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
- Docking, J. (ed) (1990) Education and Alienation in the Junior School, London: Falmer.
- Barrett, G. (ed) (1989) Disaffection from School, The Early Years, London: Falmer.
Different children respond to the challenges of schooling in different ways. For some pupils, motivation is directed at avoiding failure by avoiding participation. For others, demoralization leads to withdrawal from an educational system that they believe to be irrelevant. Other pupils are driven to prove their worth by outperforming their peers. For an introduction to the principles of motivation as they apply to classroom learning and management, see:
- Gilbert, I. (2002) Essential Motivation in the Classroom, London: Routledge.
- Covington, M.V. (1998) The Will to Learn: A Guide for Motivating Young People, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Spaulding, C. L. (1992) Motivation in the Classroom, New York: Mc Graw Hill.
Teachers are often the first point of contact for a child who is experiencing problems related to bullying, drugs, abuse, bereavement or divorce. These books are a useful introduction to counselling skills and strategies. The first also has an important resource section, which provides guidance on where teachers and pupils may go for further professional help and advice. The last tackles practical concerns such as boundary issues and the place of friendship in caring relationships.
- Hornby, G., Hall, C. and Hall, E. (2002) Counselling for Teachers, London: RoutledgeFalmer.
- Hornby, G., Everts, H. and Agee, M. (2001) Counselling for Teachers, London: RoutledgeFalmer.
- Geldard, K. (2002) Counselling Children, London: Sage.
- Lynch, G. (2002) Pastoral Care and Counselling, London: Sage & Corwin Press.
For suggestions of other books on classroom discipline, see Chapter 11.