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Within my own placements, I have seen elements of both styles of teaching. Behaviourism forms not only some of the methods of teaching and learning but also the cornerstone of the school behaviour policy, which functions as a set of rewards and sanctions. One teacher (Mr B) creates a behaviourist environment by choosing to stand in different areas of the classroom in order to obtain certain types of behaviour from students. For example, standing up beside the whiteboard leads quickly to silence among his pupils, as they have learned that his standing in this position replaces other teachers’ calls for silence. Mr B explained that initially, when pupils were in younger years of the school, this was prefaced by a “3, 2, 1” countdown, until it was possible to remove the countdown in favour of the quiet change in position. This is an example of classical conditioning, whereby pupils associated their silence at the teacher’s signal with the praise that followed. In the early years of Key Stage 3, Mr B also awarded Classchart points for the resulting silence to positively reinforce their behaviour. When Mr B is walking around the classroom, it is a signal that pupils should be getting on with their work. Again, they have become aware that at any point he may be close to them and be able to peruse their task. Classchart awards are a major way in which my placement school use a behaviourist technique. The Classchart system is used to keep track of seating plans and award points, which take the place of merits, and these can be given instantly because the school uses iPads. Points are given for any number of aspects, dependent on the teacher. My own mentor (Mr S) awards a point to each pupil as soon as the whole class are seated and ready to listen. In this way, all students feel that they have received praise, and start the lesson in a good frame of mind. Points can then be awarded for correct answers to questions, which was an aspect I was beginning to use in my own practise. Through choosing random pupils, and awarding them a point for a correct answer, all pupils knew that there was a possibility that they could be called on the answer a question. If they had retained the information, they would get a point. If they had not, then there was a chance that the pupil would feel embarrassed, which would be a ‘positive punishment’ as incorrect behaviour had resulted in an uncomfortable situation. This would make it more likely that the pupil would try harder for the next attempt.
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