Positive Behaviour Support

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As Willert & Willert suggest, ‘positive behaviour supports developed through the implementation of simple reinforcement strategies…can have a significant influence on the social climate of an entire school.’ (As cited in Zirpoli, 2012, p. 257). With this in mind, this paper aims to analyse and compare the School’s management, welfare, and discipline policies with positive behaviour support models, specifically Mayer’s (1999) constructive discipline approach. The School reflects the view that the world is multifaceted and ever changing. If you only have one way for your classroom to ‘be right’ you are setting yourself up for continued frustration and failure. Skilled teachers understand that the classroom is a complex, unpredictable, messy, and non-linear, working environment. They’ve realised, long ago, that control –especially over others is an illusion. (Gordon, as cited in School Policy, 2012, p. 2). As this is the foundation of the School’s policies it indicates that the strategies enforced have reference to ideas held within various positive behaviour support models. The School, situated in Queensland, has a student enrolment of approximately 800, catering for students from Preparatory Year to Year 7. As schools are important environments for all members to learn, teach, and grow, the School is ‘based on the belief that all students can learn and the staff accepts the responsibility to teach all students, regardless of differences, the fundamental skills required for success in the 21st Century.’ (School Policy, 2012, p. 4). The purpose of the policy is to foster a school culture that assists its students in the development of social and emotional skills, including the ability to exercise self management and responsibility for their behavioural choices. Mayer (1999) suggests that basic student welfare policies, particularly behvaiour management, list ‘the behavioural standards required of students.’ (p. 37). Furthermore, Mayer aptly states ‘the better ones specify the consequences for violating and following the rules [affecting and influencing] how students behave and how educators respond when students violate or follow rules.’ (1999, p. 37). Furthermore, Turnbull & Smith-Bird explain that effective schools ‘focus on building a culture of positive reinforcement.’ (As cited in Zirpoli, 2012, p. 327). Drawing on research, this discussion will reflect the School’s policies in regards to the development of effective school wide rules and strategies, and their consistency among all staff in the school context. (Zirpoli, 2012, p. 329). The policy starts with a brief introductory letter signed from the principal stating that ‘this document has been endorsed and developed in collaboration with all stakeholders of [the School], particularly the school’s Behaviour Management Committee.’ (School, 2012, p. 3). Through a general acknowledgment, the principal displays appreciation for staff and members of the school community. This introductory letters sets an inclusive tone, which is present throughout the document. The policies are ultimately aimed at the welfare of the students, and have been written as guidelines for staff and teachers. They are indicators for the parents, and general public, of the expectations placed on all members of the school community. A major factor for a supportive learning environment is communication and relationship building between parents/caregivers and the school. Cavaretta (states that ‘there is widespread support among educators and the community for the view that parents have a major role to play in education.’ (As cited in Marsh, 2010, p. 293). There appears to be no parental voice within the document although the School documents that the philosophy is ‘to build relationships among staff, students, parents, and the community in order to maintain [the] goal of creating a peaceful environment.’ (School Policy, 2012, p. 6). However, the student voice is represented in the document through a...
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