Reflecting on my previous roles as a teacher, coach, and mentor, I have taught young people from all backgrounds of social life, culture, and diversity. The extreme difficulties and challenges I have faced came from within non-mainstream/alternative educational providers. Young people who attend non-mainstream provisions at times have had nowhere left to go, often becoming disengaged from their community and society they are left only to be forgotten, rotting away within the depth of the education system. They become disengaged through too much exposure to principles, practices of individual and group counselling thrown at them, and they still are not able to conform to society as the mode of a good citizen within schools. However, upon further self-reflection as an experienced youth worker and teacher I feel that my ethos and activities associated within my education, social and life skills have promoted a positive progression of dealing with certain disruptive behaviour.

This positive outlook is an alternative way as oppose to old fashioned disciplinarian methods. The social experiences and lifelong skills of working on international youth schemes I feel offer a distinctive pedagogy to not only learning academically but also learning about life in general. I believe in a form of restorative practice often sitting in a circle bringing the all parties together when students have made wrong choices. I do emphasise and acknowledge with the students that at times we can all make wrong choices. However, the realisation that most wrong choices can be resolved quickly without further escalation is always a good remedy for the students to become calm.

Ecclestone suggested that there isn’t anything wrong with young people invariably being seated in comfortable surroundings of chairs in circles taking part in games to mix the groups dynamics and building confidence to get students talking and disclosing personal aspects of their lives (Ecclestone). Circle sessions are often there to achieve calmness, reflection and restorative practice and forgiveness. However, often now circle times are also used to break down barriers and deliver knowledge. They are assessed through variety of competence-based checklists, and records of achievement within personal folders as part of the psychology of student’s behaviour (Ecclestone).  

Often, these assessments are filled with portfolios that emphasised self-assessment, self-reflection as well as one to one tutorial, and depending on the curriculum have come to permeate teacher’s development activities too (Ecclestone). Circle sessions have gradually replaced liberal and general studies with communication studies and are now presented as personal social and health education (PHSE) (Ecclestone). FE colleges were therefore doing therapeutic circle time as a mainstream activity long before school (Ecclestone). Teachers are designing more sensitive approaches to teaching and assessment, asking students to fill in lesson evaluations about what methods and activities they like and do not like (Ecclestone).

Teachers today not only deliver the curriculum but now they read and comment on students’ reflective logs (Ecclestone). Teachers adopt an emotional focus for critical pedagogy, and as a result they are increasingly expected to identify and respond to students’ emotional needs (Ecclestone).

This is whereas a teacher I need to call upon all my experiences in dealing with disruptive behaviour.

However, there are times when things still do not go right and students for a variety amount of reasons will continue to make the wrong choices. This is whereas a teacher I need to call upon all my experiences in dealing with disruptive behaviour.

There are several psychological perspectives of theories to learning which we can investigate. However, for me the theories of Maslow are more attractive as his humanistic approach is to focus on the broader growth and development of the student as a whole person. So, in defining my role as not just a teacher but also a facilitator, a youth leader and mentor rather than in just a didactic manner I can easily be seen to take a more positive and appropriate approach for any of my students who may well have had only negative experiences of formal schooling. So, if any student that I teach are going to be successful for instance in their FE colleges, these students will need to establish a new mode of relationship with their teachers. So, the facilitative models such as the ‘Humanistic’ approach could be a more appropriate way in supporting students through difficult times.

However, there has been quite several critics of the humanistic approach, but for me ‘Maslow’s’ hierarchy of needs (Physiological, Safety, Social, Esteem needs and Self-actualisation) stands as perhaps the best example of a hypothesis that has been misapplied and indiscriminately used. However, Maslow’s theory does attempt to categorise motivation as a discrete, transferable quality or characteristic of the human being. Whereas instead the focus of educational research ought to be on different groups of learners and what factors make up their environmental, social, political in motivating or demotivating them.

To provide a short conclusion the relationship between student and tutor that offers a meaningful and positive model such as Maslow’s theory could be appropriate for the classroom or workshop. The importance of restorative communication, dialogue along with positive outcomes and interventions of Maslow’s theories could provide evidence in supporting behaviour management and as such for me continues to be a worthwhile topic for further discussion.

Peter Beacock MSc