Changing Behaviors by Changing Classroom Management and Classroom Environment

Changing Behaviors by Changing Classroom Management and Classroom Environment

Introduction
The issue of classroom management is one major factor effecting teacher job satisfaction. Classroom teachers consistently rate student discipline problems as a major professional concern. Dealing with disruptive behavior from students is frustrating and sometimes reduces effectiveness in facilitating student achievement

This past school year, I received my first teaching job as a 5th grade teacher. I went through numerous struggles and learning endeavors. I’m sure you all have heard “what happens in the classroom during the early days of the year sets the stage for the entire year. As I was researching I came across a question, what does classroom management mean? The term “classroom management” covers a broad range of teacher behaviors and replaces the term “discipline” to describe teaching techniques to establish a well established classroom environment (Dunbar, 2006).
I wondered what roles I should be playing as a teacher creating and maintaining a safe and productive learning environment for my students. Would changing my classroom arrangement change student discipline, and would establishing rules as a class set expectations to decrease student behavior. I want to explore ways to ensure I’m using the best practices in my classroom management. At our school district we noticed a decrease in behavior while implementing PBIS (positive behavior intervention and supports), but will changing the teachers classroom management skills have a decreasing affect in behavior as well.

Context
The research will be done in a rural community in Monte Vista, Colorado. About 5000 people live in this particular area. The research will be completed at an Elementary School containing grades 2-5th. The setting of the research will be in four 5th grade classrooms. Each 5th grade classroom will consist of 19-22 students. There are four 5th grade teachers that will be helping complete the study. The classroom setting will consist of student’s desk in rows, directly in front of the learning board. The student’s will be facing away from visual distractions such as doorways and windows. The classroom will have clear pathways between students and high traffic areas. The classroom will also be altered to ensure a clear line of sight. The students and the teacher will come up with their own classroom rules that are short and simple. These rules will be used daily to help produce positive behavior. The classroom will be taught using normal everyday subjects the only change will be the classroom environment and the set classroom rules. The teachers will be looking for change in behavior and disruptions. We will also look for quality and quality of the students work.

Qualitative:
Will providing excellent classroom seating arrangements and environment encourage students to show positive behavior?

Quantitative:
Does a good classroom seating arrangement and a minimum number of rules such as, no talking without raising hands, no using bad language, no back talk, no chewing gum, change students attitudes towards disciple problems?

Theoretical Framework
After I determined the focus of my study which is, “Changing classroom behavior by changing the classroom environment and classroom management”, I began to search for common studies completed with the same topics. I looked for classroom management strategies and the effect on student behavior. I also looked for classroom environments changing student behavior. I began to research theorist and how they thought a classroom should be controlled. All of the research I found supported the use of classroom management and classroom environment as a tool for positive behavior. The journal articles described ways to set up a classroom for high quality work and great behavior from the students. The articles also described management strategies along with definitions of important words to use with students. Most of the research supported changing the classroom environment and changing behaviors to increase academic engagement and decrease disruptive behavior (Guardino, & Fullerton 2010).

Arranging Your Classroom and Seating Arrangements
In the research article, Before The Year Begin (2010), The American Federation of Teachers developed a series of Classroom Tips to help educators start the year off right and anticipate the year ahead. The tips were taken from real classroom experiences and are part of the AFT’s Educational Research and Dissemination (ER & D) professional development program (American Federation of Teachers 2010). One of their tips suggests arranging your classroom. They believe that good teachers know that the physical environment of a classroom can either enhance or hinder learning. According to The American Federation of Teachers, an effective room arrangement is essential to classroom management because it eliminates possible distractions and minimizes opportunities for students to disrupt others. When arranging student desk or tables, they want you to keep in mind the potential distractions, such as windows and doors, small-group work areas or your desk. They suggest leaving enough room around student desks so the teacher can easily reach each person when monitoring or giving help. Also a teacher should plan to seat students who will need extra attention close to the area where she/he will spend most of his/her time. The arrangement of students’ desk should be in rows facing the major instructional area, which will allow the teacher to deliver instruction to the whole class, monitor student behavior more readily and become familiar with each student’s work habits. Once the classroom management is established, the teacher can move the desk into clusters of other groupings. The American Federation of Teachers research also showed that effective managers take stock of their rooms and the characteristics of their students, and develop a room plan that meets their instructional, behavioral and organizational needs (The American Federation of Teachers 2010).

Galton and Turnuklu (2001) state that the frequency of misbehaviors depended on different factors including: student’s age, gender, time of day, different part of the lesson, and seating arrangement. Their study aimed to reveal misbehaviors, classroom management, and discipline problems that teachers encounter. Their founding including lack of motivation, rules and routines being broken, lack of infrastructure, ineffective time management, classroom environment, and lack of classroom interaction. They believe that a classroom should have rules to assist in avoiding misbehavior of students.
According to Ediger (2009), he believed that a community of learners emphasizes cooperation in developing an environment conductive to optimal pupil achievement in academic social and psychomotor skills. Griffee (2006) believes that seating arrangements can be helpful because they provide a systematic way for thinking about student social relationships. Where students sit is a low inference category which means it is easy to collect and reliable.

Ruhl and Wannarka (2008) found that seating arrangement are important classroom setting events because they have the potential to help prevent problem behaviors that decrease student attention and diminish available instructional time. The purpose of their study was to determine which arrangements of desk best facilitated positive academic and behavioral outcomes for students. Eight of their studies investigated three common arrangements (rows, groups, and semi-circles). Results indicate that teachers should let the nature of the task dictate seating arrangements. Evidence supports the idea that students display higher levels of appropriate behavior during individual tasks when they are seated in rows, with disruptive students benefiting the most (Rual, & Wannarka 2008).

Changing the Classroom Environment
In another research article, Changing Behaviors by Changing the Classroom Environment (2010), the authors looked at the impact of classroom environment on overall class behavior and learning. They wanted to target and change problem areas in the classroom environment. They collected data on students’ engagement during instruction; disruptive behaviors, and teacher observations, teachers can identify which physical aspects of their classroom need to be improved. They believed that changing the classroom environment can increase academic engagement and decrease disruptive behavior (Guardina, & Fullerton 2010). Their results showed that the overall academic engagement was extremely low before intervention and after they modified the classroom, the academic engagement increased immediately. Prior to the intervention the overall disruptive behavior occurred 90% of the time and after intervention the disruptive behavior immediately decreased. Before the classroom was modified they observed disruptive behaviors, how the different areas of the classroom were utilized, where the disruptive behavior was occurring, and were students able to work at desk without distractions (Guardina, & Fullerton 2010). They made modifications to the classroom environment and then compared the observation results.
According to Dunbar (2006) he feels that a good classroom seating arrangement is the cheapest form of classroom management. It’s discipline for free. He believes that classroom arrangements should be flexible to accommodate a variety of teaching activities.

Changes in My Teaching Practices
The main focus of my research is on changing behaviors by changing the classroom environment, setting classroom rules, and seating arrangements. I did not have a clear idea on how this action research project would turn out. But through my research, I collected and analyzed data to help support the changes that I will make to my classroom setting. The following is a list of changes that I will follow.
1. I will arrange my desk so the students are seated where their attention is directed toward the teacher. I will also make a clear distinction between students and high trafficked areas.
2. I will modify classroom climate by adjusting lighting, air flow, and temperature.
3. Students will be able to clearly see chalk board, screens, and teacher.
4. Students will be seated facing the front of the room and away from the windows.
5. I will provide areas of personal space and decease or change placement of stimulating visuals.
6. I will ensure an easy row of traffic throughout the room and keep high-traffic areas, such as those near the teacher’s desk, pencil sharpener and wastebasket, free from congestions.
7. I will consider how I want my classroom to function and how I want the students to behave. I will think through my procedures students need to know in order to perform specific activities, and let them establish classroom rules that clearly articulate their expectations for behavior. A procedure tells students how to perform routine instructional and housekeeping tasks. In order to make the classroom run smoothly, I prepared a list of routines: getting the teacher’s attention, using the pencil sharpener, bathroom or drinking fountain, moving within and outside the classroom, lining up, storing personal belongings, taking down and turing in assignments. I will introduce the procedures with the students over a period of time, as needed, and sometimes modify the procedures during the school year to adapt to changes in instruction or the needs of a particular class.
8. The class and I will establish rules that set a visual on how they are expected to behave. Rules will apply to classroom interactions, respect for others and their property, and participation in class. Effective teachers establish only three to six “umbrella” rules that remain consistent throughout the year. Most of the rules are stated positively and are posted in the classroom. The rules should be introduced on the first day of school. Examples of the rules I will use are:
Be Prompt
Be Prepared
Be Polite and Respectful
Be an Active Positive Learner
Be Honest

9. Last but not least I will set expectations for my students. A positive classroom climate supports student learning. Teachers create an environment by communicating high expectations and standards to gain confidence in student’s abilities and praise good performance (American Federation of Teachers 2010). A teacher should provide incentives, rewards and recognition to highlight appropriate behavior, like free homework passes. But we should also keep in mind how we will respond when students misbehave. We must create a system of fair and appropriate consequences to use with student do not cooperate.

Data Collection
The methodology that I will be using to collect my data is mixed methods. Mixed methods methodology is an appropriate methodology to gather data because it combines quantitative and qualitative approaches by including both quantitative and qualitative data in a single study. The purpose of mixed methods research is to build on the synergy and strength that exist between qualitative and quantitative research methods. Mixed methods can be used to build on the findings of a qualitative study by pursuing a quantitative phase of the research. Qualitative studies are good at establishing the effects of particular programs, but qualitative studies help us to understand how a program succeeds or fails. It is highly important that I had a full understanding of qualitative and quantitative research. The qualitative research I gathered will help be gain knowledge on having effective classroom seating arrangements to change student behavior. I will also learn how colleagues feel about their classroom environment and the results of students in this new learning environment. The quantitative research will give direct data and facts about the change of seating arrangements and minimum number of rules changing the student’s attitudes and behaviors. It is important to use mixed methodology because both qualitative and quantitative provides so much information. In order to understand and answer my research questions fully, it is best to use mixed methods research.

I created two surveys on a website called “survey monkey”, for both the qualitative and quantitative questions. I then released the surveys to my colleagues in my educational research on-line course. I copied and pasted the survey links to a message board on-line and gave my colleagues time to complete the surveys. My colleagues were given a deadline to answer the surveys; this was an advantage to the on-line release.

Qualitative
The qualitative question I chose to use was: Will providing excellent classroom seating arrangements and environment encourage students to show positive behavior? I used a questionnaire method to create the survey. The questionnaire method is a written collection of self reported questions to be answered a selected group of research participants, which were my colleagues (Airasian, P., Mills, G., & Gay, L. (2009). The questionnaire consisted of a series of open ended questions that provided insight into the research question. Each open ended question focused on classroom environment, seating arrangements, thoughts on student’s disruptions, and classroom management. My colleagues were given the opportunity to share their experiences and their own thoughts towards classroom environment and seating arrangements.

Quantitative
The quantitative question I chose to use was: Does a good classroom seating arrangement and a minimum number of rules such as, no talking without raising hands, no using bad language, no back talk, no chewing gum, change students attitudes towards disciple problems. I used selection method when creating this particular survey. The selection method allowed my colleagues to select from a set of given answers. This type of survey is also called a “Likert Scale”, which requires an individual to respond to a series of statements by indicating whether he or she strongly agrees, agrees, is undecided, disagree or strongly disagrees (Airasian, P., Mills, G., & Gay, L. (2009). The information in the survey focused on classroom seating arrangements having an effect on student’s behavior. It also focused on providing students with a minimum number of rules.

Results and Analysis

Quantitative
The survey for the quantitative question was distributed to my colleagues in my Education Research on-line class. A total of six colleagues responded to the survey. For the first question my colleagues were asked if the lack of classroom management is an issue in their classroom. The second question asked if teaching mobility is the aim of classroom seating arrangements. The third question addressed disruptive behaviors occurring in the classroom during desk or group work. Question four asked if students actively participate in the creation of guidelines governing classroom behavior. Question five focused on classroom rules provided that are direct, clear, and consistent, and encourage positive behavior. The last question asks if rules are designed to support a concept of consequences for inappropriate behavior rather than punishment. The following chart shows results from these six questions.
Survey Question Distributed to Colleagues Strongly
Disagree Disagree Undecided Agree Strongly
Agree
The lack of classroom management is an issue in your classroom. 33% 50% 0% 16.7% 0%
Teaching mobility is the aim of classroom seating arrangements 0% 33.3% 67.7% 0% 0%
The most disruptive behaviors occurring in the classroom are when students are at their desk or in group areas. 0% 66.7% 33.3% 0% 0%
Students actively participate in the creation of guidelines governing classroom behavior. 0% 16.7% 0% 50% 33.3%
Classroom rules provided are direct, clear, and consistent, and encourage positive behavior. 0% 0% 0% 50% 50%
Rules are designed to support a concept of consequences for inappropriate behavior rather than punishment. 0% 0% 0% 50% 50%

The results of the survey show that disruptive behaviors occur most when students are at their desk or in a group setting. The results also show that teaching mobility is the aim of classroom seating arrangements. According to my results the lack of classroom management is not an issue in their classroom along with their classrooms containing set rules that are designed to support consequences for inappropriate behavior rather then punishment. Looking back on the quantitative question, “Does a good classroom seating arrangement and a minimum number of rules such as, no talking without raising hands, no using bad language, no back talk, no chewing gum, change students attitudes towards disciple problems?” It was apparent that a change in seating arrangement and classroom environments might help with disruptive behaviors, since most of the disruptive behaviors are occurring during desk and group work. I feel that further research needs to be assessed in order to get the full results and more data.

Qualitative
The survey for the qualitative question was distributed to my colleagues in my Education Research on-line class. A total of 5 colleagues responded to the survey. The survey consisted of five questions that asked for a response from my colleagues. The questions are listed below along with a description of the responses.

What is the definition of classroom management?
Of the five responses, three of my colleagues expressed that classroom management is having routines, discipline, and expectations clear and under-control within the classroom. They also expressed preventing chaos, providing direction and guidance, along with setting up boundaries. The other two responses thought that classroom management involves creating a cooperative, mutually respectful atmosphere of learning and self-discipline. It is clear that my colleagues have a definite classroom management skills and strategies.

What types of disruptive behavior occurs in your classroom? For example, getting out of their seat often?
Of the five responses, my colleagues listed disruptive behaviors that occur in their classrooms. Most of these disruptive behaviors occur while students are at their desk or in groups. The following is a list of the disruptive behaviors.
Shouting out when not appropriate
Getting out of seat when teacher is teaching
Playing with supplies while teacher is teaching
Some talking while teacher is talking
Making noises
Throwing things
Wandering away
No paying attention

Are your classroom management strategies proactive, preventative, and relatively easy to implement, and provide minimal disruptions to the classroom?
Out of the five colleagues that took the survey five out of five stated that their classroom management strategies are proactive, preventative, and relatively easy to implement, and provide minimal disruptions to the classroom.

Have you observed the students within the classroom environment, noting where and when the disruptive behavior is occurring?
Three out of five colleagues stated that they have observed the students within the classroom environment, noting where and when the disruptive behavior is occurring. One colleague state that he/she only observed students who are on a behavior plan/IEPs. Another colleague believed that there is generally little pattern to the disruptive behavior, due to the fact that it’s typically random events and situations that set it off.

What sort of classroom rules do you use in your classroom?
Of the five responses, my colleagues listed classroom rules that are used in their classrooms. The following is a list of rules used in classrooms.
PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention and Support), school wide rules
Rules that change each school year, because the student help make them
Be respectful
Come prepared
Do your best
Voice your opinion as positively as you can
Pay attention
Ask questions
Be polite
No talking when the teacher talks
Keep hand to self

Conclusions
Through action research I have learned how to set up my classroom to be an effective learning environment for my students. The data showed that there is a correlation between classroom environment and student disruptive behavior. I feel that there needs to be further research done to gather more data. My colleagues were asked questions on classroom management and it was apparent that their classroom management was working well for them. The only concern was the disruptions while the students where at their desk and completing group work. My colleagues also had rules set up in their classroom that worked for their students. Through my findings I gathered strategies that will help set up a classroom to have less distractions and more work from students. I will be using these strategies in my classroom at some point. I also found some techniques to use at the beginning of the school year and I will also be implementing these as I listed in changes in my teaching practice.

Abstract
Seating arrangements and classroom environments play a large role on student achievement. Student’s disruptive behaviors are a major concern for most teachers. Will providing excellent classroom seating arrangements and environment encourage students to show positive behavior? Does a good classroom seating arrangement and a minimum number of rules such as, no talking without raising hands, no using bad language, no back talk, no chewing gum, change students attitudes towards disciple problems? Changing the physical environment of your classroom can enhance learning with the appropriate room preparation and arrangement. An effective room arrangement is essential to classroom management because it helps eliminate distractions from the students. The participants in this study will be fifth grade students from four general education classrooms attending a rural school in Monte Vista, Colorado. Each fifth grade classroom will consist of 19-22 students. Students will be observed in a classroom setting without any modifications to the classroom environment and they will be also observed in a classroom using modifications to the classroom environment. The results will be determined by surveys taken by my colleagues in my educational research class. The teacher will observe their students and their classrooms to help filter the data. The data I have gathered has brought me to the conclusion that classroom environments do have an effect on student’s disruptive behaviors.

References

American Federation of Teachers. (2010). Before the Year Begins, Classroom Tips, p12. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Airasian, P., Mills, G., & Gay, L. (2009). Educational Research Competencies for Analysis and Applications. Columbus: Ohio.

Burman, E., & Lewis, R. (2008). Providing for Student Voice in Classroom Management: Teachers' Views. International Journal of Inclusive Education, v12 n2, p151-167. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning. (2010). Ready to Succeed in the Classroom: Summary Report. Teachers' Advice, Strategies, p12. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

June 20, 2011 from https://www.msu.edu/~dunbarc/dunbar3.pdf

Ediger, M. (2009). Seven Criteria for an Effective Classroom Environment. College Student Journal, v43 n4 p1370-1372. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

Erdogan, Mehmet; Kursun, Engin; Sisman, Gulcin. (2010). A Qualitative Study on Classroom Management and Classroom Discipline Problems, Reasons, and Solutions. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, v10 n2 p881-891. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

Galton, M., & Turnuklu, A. (2001). Students Misbehaviors in Turkish and English Primary Classrooms. Educational Studies, v27 n3, p291-305. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Guardino, C., & Fullerton, E. (2010). Changing Behaviors by Changing the Classroom Environment. Council for Exceptional Children, v42 n6 p8-13. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

Griffee, D. (2006). Research Tips: Classroom Observation Data Collection, Part I. Journal of Developmental Education, v29 n1 p42-42. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

LaRocque, M. (2008). Assessing Perceptions of the Environment in Elementary Classrooms: The Link with Achievement. Educational Psychology in Practice, l. v24 n4, p289-305. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

Ruhl, K., & Wannarka, R. (2008). Seating Arrangements that Promote Positive Academic and Behavioral Outcomes: A Review of Empirical Research. Support for Learning, v23 n2 p89-93. Retrieved from EBSCOhost