My go-to things don’t work anymore : teacher perspectives on challenging behaviour and the CPS approach.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
Background: Many New Zealand teachers face challenging behaviours in their daily classroom interactions with children. Children who exhibit challenging behaviour often struggle to progress at school and frequently disrupt the learning of other students. Teachers are largely responsible for managing challenging behaviour at school and can sometimes feel unsupported, frustrated, and at a loss to know what to do to help children develop socially appropriate behaviours. One possible tool for navigating challenging behaviour is Greene’s Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS) approach (2014). This approach considers the problems and conflicts a child is experiencing with regards to meeting adults’ expectations of a given situation. CPS aims to work proactively and collaboratively with the child to find solutions to those problems. The CPS approach is a relatively new framework in which to examine children’s challenging behaviours and has not been examined extensively in schools. Therefore this research project seeks to explore the usefulness of this approach for classroom teachers.
Method: This project comprised of two phases. In Phase One, individual semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore the experiences of 13 primary school teachers dealing with challenging behaviour in the classroom. These interviews aimed to describe (a) strategies these teachers currently employ in response to challenging behaviour, and (b) teachers’ beliefs and feelings concerning their interactions with children with challenging behaviours. In Phase Two, teachers were introduced to the CPS approach (Greene, 2014), and were encouraged to reflect on its viability as a tool to support children with challenging behaviours in school settings. A follow-up focus group session asked teachers to share their opinions on the usefulness of the CPS approach for their respective classrooms. Data were analysed using thematic analysis methods.
Results: Overarching themes of control (the power to influence or direct behaviour) and allostasis (stability through change) emerged as teachers explained what they do (actions) and what they think (beliefs and feelings) about challenging behaviour. Teacher actions included proactive and reactive strategies, professional development experiences, supports to manage or prevent challenging behaviour, and communication. Teacher beliefs included rationales for particular actions, expectations for children’s behaviour, and theorising about underlying causes or immediate triggers for challenging behaviour. Responses about how teachers felt about students’ challenging behaviour included concerns about the impact on classroom safety and learning, as well as their feelings of success (or failure) as they responded to behaviour they perceived as challenging. Teachers stated that the CPS approach had helped them develop more profound understandings and stronger relationships with children; however, they also expressed the difficulty of having sufficient time to fully engage with children through the CPS approach. Aspects of student and teacher motivation are explored through the lenses of Self-determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 2008) and Attribution Theory (Weiner, 1974).
Conclusion: This research describes primary school teachers’ perspectives on and lived experiences with students’ challenging behaviour. With a sample of teachers, motivated to help children succeed both academically and socially at school, the project findings shed light on how dedicated teachers attempt to respond to challenging behaviours, as well as their beliefs about the origins of such behaviours. The results present teachers’ perceived opportunities and limitations of CPS as a tool to aid with developing positive, solution-focussed relationships with children whose behaviour is interpreted as challenging.