Issue 8
Monday, 05 June 2017
Charles Darwin University
Dr Anne-Marie Marias
Dr Anne-Marie Marias

Teachers urged to speak up over bad behaviour

By Patrick Nelson

A career educator who recently completed a PhD in which she examined classroom behavioural problems has urged teachers to “speak out” and “act now”.

Dr Anne-Marie Marias said that in too many schools, the work of teachers and the learning of most students were disrupted by the bad behaviour of a few.

“It is an ongoing and growing problem,” Dr Marias said.

“It is puzzling, however, that teachers have struggled with student disengagement and bad behaviour, in spite of the extensive literature available on how to manage classrooms.

“There is no doubt that it is possible to create a harmonious classroom environment, but teachers must break the silence and speak out. 

“This can be done through a school culture of transparency, openness and collegial support.”

Dr Marias said her research was designed to understand the realities faced by frontline practitioners, particularly in middle school.

“I wanted to identify the barriers that prevent teachers from succeeding in creating a positive learning environment. I also searched for the key drivers that can lead to major changes in the classroom. 

“Small actions can be tipping points that lead to significant improvements.” 

Planning for classroom management was as important as planning for curriculum and pedagogies.

“It is an essential teaching skill and requires a whole-school approach.”

She recommended a balanced democratic leadership style away from the extreme authoritarian teaching styles of the past or the more recent indecisive/permissive styles. 

Dr Marias, whose career in teaching spans 45 years, said schools remained the most important institution for shaping the future of children.