LANGUAGES WITHOUT LIMITS
Motivation, behaviour and successful learning are inextricably linked...
By the same token, lack of motivation hinders learning, and lack of success in learning makes it very difficult to maintain motivation. These links are observed and well understood by most teachers.
But where does behaviour fit in? Is it the cause of poor motivation and learning, or is it the result?
In all of the development projects that gave rise to this website (working with 'difficult' pupils and classes) priority was given to improving the chances of successful learning. In every case, better motivation and behaviour followed and, eventually, better learning.
Bad behaviour, it seems, often stems from attempts (usually unconscious) to disguise or suppress feelings of inadequacy. This is why it is so important to identify and to deal with barriers to learning. Once a downward spiral of failure and bad behaviour has been established it is very difficult to reverse.
In the Maximising Potential programmes and in the earlier Working Together projects, modern language departments were asked to select their most difficult classes or pupils to work with. That way they were able to quickly see the benefits of the curricular changes they were making and so gain encouragement to make further changes in the way they managed learners and their learning. Teachers who had thought that the foreign language was the problem – 'too difficult for these children' - were surprised to find that was not the case. Improvements in attainment are slower to manifest themselves but inevitably followed once engagement with learning had been re-established, and teachers often expressed surprise at what learners were in fact able to do.
All this suggests that there is no point in just trying to tackle behaviour. A simple strategy of exhortation never works, and more elaborate schemes of points and rewards work only for a time if curriculum management improvements are not implemented at the same time. So the priority is to first identify and then to resolve or minimise barriers to learning experienced by the problematic pupil, group or class. As those basic improvements are put in and the learners begin to experience success, teachers' thoughts can turn to more elaborate ways to improve motivation and learning.
'The problem is the problem - not the person.'
'If it works, do more of it - if it doesn’t, do something different.'
From the Solution Oriented School programme (SOS)
Motivation, behaviour and learning
An article from the Scottish Languages review about learners' need to experience themselves as successful language learners if they are to be motivated and engaged, and the implications for teaching. National (Scottish) policy has moved on since 2005, but the main point of the article is still relevant.
What other factors should be taken into account? Here are two documents developed as a result of experiences in schools. The first suggests that there are three basic ingredient that go to make up any successful programme; the second is a list of strategies that can aid motivation one the basics have been taken care of. The documents were compiled at different times, so there is some overlap.
Motivational Strategies: ensure success by...
• making the curriculum and teaching materials relevant to the pupils
• making the success criteria as clear as possible
• providing sufficient preparation
• offering assistance
• letting pupils help each other
• making learning stimulating by involving the pupils actively
• teaching learning strategies
• avoiding face-threatening situations.
• making sure grades reflect effort and improvement, not just attainment
Dr Hazel Crichton, University of Glasgow, at the SALT Conference 5.5.11
"Many settings in which children can be found continue to focus mainly on poor behaviour and use sanctions and punishments as their main strategy for improving behaviour. A classic conundrum emerges, whereby adults pay most attention to the kind of disruptive and difficult behaviour they claim not to want… There is now a good deal of work on the kind of positive, emotionally and socially healthy environments that help promote good behaviour and the growth of mental and emotional wellbeing… Such environments are those that get the right balance between warmth, participation, the encouragement of participation and autonomy, and the setting of clear boundaries and expectations – where the ethos is positive and the focus is on good rather than bad behaviour.”.
From 10 things we do to make a difference (Pupil Inclusion Network Scotland)
"Motivation is essential for progress in language learning. It can override low levels of aptitude and adverse circumstances. It is the key issue in language learning; without it nothing will be achieved, but with it, 99% of people will be able to learn a language, regardless of most other circumstances."
A summary of Chapter 1 in Scottish CILT's DVD pack on Motivation in modern language learning. The pack is made up of interviews with Professor Zoltan Dörnyei of the University of Nottingham and follow-up activities.
"… Increasingly, staff development programmes were making links between effective learning and teaching and behaviour management and focused on actively engaging all young people in their learning …"
From: Out of sight, out of mind? HMIe 2010
"Both acquisition of knowledge and mastery of self-control benefit future learning."
From: Neuroscience: implications for education and lifelong learning The Royal Society 2011, page iii
[Links last checked 18.2.11 unless otherwise indicated]
Positive relationships and behaviour
Building Curriculum for Excellence through positive relationships and behaviour (2010)
Abuse affects school work
The Behaviour4Learning website provides high quality resources that enable trainers and trainees engage with the principles of ‘behaviour for learning’ to improve the management of classroom behaviour, enable achievement and foster the emotional wellbeing of learners.
Pupil Inclusion Network Scotland supports the voluntary sector's work with young people who are disaffected or excluded from school. A resource section includes links to a wide range of other sites.
From the British Council Stirrers and Settlers for the Primary Classroom. Intended for teachers of English as a foreign language, but the principles are common to all language teaching.
[16.4.12] Hands On Scotland: Hands On Scotland is an online resource for anybody working with or caring for children and young people. The website provides practical information and techniques on how to respond helpfully to children and young people's troubling behaviour and gives advice on how to help them flourish.A toolkit of helpful responses to encourage children and young people's emotional wellbeing. Lots of thoughtful and sensible advice…I like the way it is connected explicitly to the Curriculum for Excellence (high school teacher.)
Sustaining self-esteem and motivation Part of the Open University's Inclusive Teaching programme.
Using praise judiciously A newspaper report of the keynote speeches given by Professor Carol Dweck from Stanford University in California at the Scottish Learning Festival
Insight 34: Behaviour in Scottish Schools
[19.2.11] Teaching for good behaviour
[23.5.11] A Curriculum for Everyone
[31.5.11] How Does the Use of Positive Language in Relation to Hemispheric Specialisation Influence the Climate of the Learning Environment?
[10.6.11] Children in Scotland: Training and events 2011
[4.4.11] Positive behaviour
[7.2.12] Neuroscience: implications for education and lifelong learning
[15.3.12] Why the world needs introverts
[22.4.12] A Culture of Caring
[8.10.12] Tools for Teaching
[26.1.13] Teaching children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: Instructional strategies and practices
[7.6.13] Investigating the views of children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties about their experience of learning French