Professional perspectives

19th May 2006 at 01:00
Educators speak of the impact the OU behaviour management course has had on their private and working lives.

Laura Monaghan

Teacher, Stenhouse Primary, Edinburgh

"I went to Strathclyde University where we did touch on behaviour management, but it was mostly practical. There wasn't much on the research into why children behave the way they do.

"This course was good for that, as it really delves into the theory and helps you understand why there are these sorts of behaviour. I was able to implement strategies in class and discern if there was any effective change.

"My final research was on positive approaches and what impact praise and positive feedback can have on behaviour and when too much praise becomes worthless.

"The course was good, although the time-frame for Scottish teachers is very tight as we finish so much earlier than teachers in England. There is no accommodation for that, yet it is difficult starting any earlier, especially when you are working full time and have other responsibilities in the school.

"I'm the enterprise co-ordinator, so I had to do a lot of juggling to get things done."

Gerry Parker

Maths and computing lecturer, South Lanarkshire College, East Kilbride

"I took a group of Christmas leavers a couple of years ago, and at that time the college seemed ill-equipped to deal with very young learners, so I decided to find out more about behaviour management.

"There is a growing trend of younger students coming into FE colleges and increasingly there are behaviour issues.

"I found the OU course terrific. It was my second OU course, as part of my Masters degree. The first had been on guidance and counselling.

"Working towards the final project as part of your classroom practice was excellent. I found I was putting what I learned throughout the year into practice on a regular basis.

"For that last project I researched the behavioural contract that exists between lecturers and students. I asked students what behaviour they expected from lecturers, the lecturers about the behaviour they expected from students, and students and lecturers what they expected from their peers. You need the support of your colleagues and management for something like this as it needs to be a study of everyone's view.

"There's been a recent change in college management and a new student charter has been introduced."

Caroline Lathe

Biology teacher, Highland

"I've been a teacher for 25 years, but recently I worked as a marine education officer on a yacht off Argyll and Bute. The contract finished last year and so I've decided to take a break from the classroom to work towards my Masters degree.

"I did my degree through the Open University, so I was familiar with its approach and really enjoyed it. My daughter has just finished university and I could see she didn't get nearly as much support as I did at the OU.

"I think doing this course has given me an opportunity to reflect on my own practice and improve what I do. But it is a lot of work, as I'm doing another course on science learning. I'm glad I'm not working full time, because it is a lot to fit in.

"However, I do face a problem over the final project as I don't have my own class. The head at the school where I've been doing cover has been really helpful, but you do need to have your own class, which means I'll probably have to defer the research.

"However, doing the course has been tremendous, and if I can't take it further, it doesn't matter because I have gained so much."

Audrey Ross

Key worker, Aberlour Child Care Trust, Crannog, West Stranraer

"The studying isn't too bad, although I do spend about three hours a night on it, five days a week. Tutorials are more awkward as they are usually in Edinburgh, which means a 200-mile trip. But if I can't make them, Heather always emails me the information, so I don't feel I'm missing out.

"I chose the OU because I did my first degree with them and I felt it had better provision for what I wanted to do.

"I felt a bit stuck in my career. I needed to do something if I wanted to go for a promoted post and doing it through the OU has given me more confidence. It is also cheaper and it includes all the materials and books.

To do it at a mainstream university would cost around pound;2,000.

"I work with children aged 12-16 who have been referred to the trust, and a lot of their behaviour is very challenging. Doing this course I discovered so much more about the conditions that can lead to this sort of behaviour and the treatments. It is a comprehensive course."

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