Abraham Maslow suggested that for students to have energy for learning, their basic personal needs must be met.(Jones, V., & Jones L. 2013) Maslow described human needs as ordered in a prepotent hierarchy (McLeod, S. 2007).The hierarchy of human needs model was shown that basic human needs started at the lower level, general needs, and proceeded upward to more complex needs, and can only be fulfilled one level at a time. His hierarchy of needs, which includes several different components on each has been divided in a variety of ways.
The bottom of the pyramid of the human needs hierarchy is basic needs or physiological needs. These being the basic for us as humans; food, water, sleep. Moving up to the next level is safety and security. This level is important to a person, due to once we have security and safety in having shelter or somewhere safe to be the person will accomplish more, or attempt to become better. The third level on the hierarchy is love and belonging. This is also a physiological need as well. When the person has taken care of themselves physically with food and shelter they are ready to move on to sharing it with someone else. That someone else could be family, friends or a partner. The following level that we have Esteem. This level is where the person needs to feel recognized by what they do and that the level of success and status that is gains. We then move up the hierarchy to cognitive where the person begins to stimulate themselves intellectually and explore the world around them. Aesthetic is the next level and is about being in harmony and order. This level also deals with beauty. As we reach the top of the pyramid we find the need for self actualization. This comes when the person reaches a state of harmony and understanding because they are at their full potential (McLeod, S. 2007).
Maslow’s theoretical position is that people have an innate need to be competent and accepted (Jones, V., & Jones L. 2013). Therefor behavior seen in a child should not indicate that he/she is bad but rather that he/she has reached a frustration level that his/her basic needs are not being met. He also suggest that these basic needs can not be met without help from those people around the child. Finally, he suggest that only when the basic needs are met can the individual become motivated by self-actualization or the need to take risks, learn, and attain one’s fullest potential (Jones, V., & Jones L. 2013).
Centered around the idea that children’s basic need is to be accepted, Rudolf Dreikurs believed his goals would align with children’s behavior. The four goals that defined his theory of disruptive behavior were, attention getting, power, revenge and display of inadequacy. The overall goal that Dreikurs wanted was that students would learn to work towards being valuable assists to a classroom.
The most common goal for most children is attention seeking. Some signs of attention seeking in a classroom might be showing off, being lazy, disruptive, asking for extra help on assignments and the list could go on. As long as they have the teachers undivided attention they can function in the classroom environment, however as soon as the teacher steps away they being to seek that attention again. The students behavior serves the need to draw attention away from others and to oneself (Jones, V., & Jones L. 2013). When children fail to gain the attention that they seek, it often times engages a power struggle between the student-teacher or student-parent. In most cases teachers never win these power competitions with the student because we are expected to act in a reasonable, moral way (Gurcan, T., & Tekin, E). When the teacher ask to stop the student becomes defiant, and increases the negative behavior and challenges the adult to where he/she is now got the teachers attention and that is what the child wanted in the first place.
When the teacher ignores these behaviors and they do not gain the attention the student moves into the revenge stage. When the chid believes that others have deliberately tired to hurt them and attempts to get even begin. This can be shown physically or psychologically. They might hit or kick others or simply destroy their property of that of the teachers. A revenge-seeking child is very difficult to help. Teachers must realize that they hurt others because he feels hurt (Walker, R), however what the child really needs is to feel loved and cared for. If we as teachers allow students to fall through the cracks and miss the signs that Dreikurs goals talked about they will fall into the helplessness or inadequacy stage. The student at this level has given up on the possibility of being part of a group or needed member of the classroom. They want to be alone and refuse to try anything asked especially that of educational meaning.
Dreikurs did not believe in the use of punishment, reinforcement or praise (Gurcan, T., & Tekin, E). Encouragement was the most meaningful use for preventing problems with students in the classroom. His thought process was that encouragement meant more because it corresponded and related to a child’s goals. Encouragement focuses on the effort from the child rather then the achievement. It gives positive feedback to children who are trying their best but at times might be unsuccessful (Walker, R). It will be the forms of encouragement that keep the students to keep going. Praise being very different from encouragement in that it focuses on rewarding a completed achievement or that the student has completed a task (Walker, R). It can cause competition between peers and make one want to gain the attention all the time.
William Glasser’s book, Control Theory in the Classroom, he describes five powerful forces that are built into our genetic structure and are the basic needs to survive (Glasser, W. 1998). The five basic needs that he list in his book are; survive, belong and love, gain power, be free, have fun. He indicates in his book that students will function productively only when the school environments allow them to experience a sense of control or power over their learning (Jones, V., & Jones L. 2013).
Glasser’s control theory recognizes those 5 basic needs. The most obvious is survival. We all need sleep food water and warmth. This is the physical need that Glasser talks about the others being psychological needs that are built internally in us (Glasser, W. 1998). Before we get to know our students we need to know certain aspects about them. We need to know what they need. Students all have their own personal needs we as teachers need to know how to recognize them, love and belonging, power/self worth, fun and enjoyment, and freedom. Though most of these are obvious you want to be loved and feel needed in the classroom.
As a student you want to feel powerful and self worth in the activities you do while having fun learning about topics in class. But freedom can be looked at 2 different ways. The freedom to make you own choices in life, or class or the freedom from pain, embarrassment, or bullying. As a teacher it is fundamental to recognize this need in a child’s life. They want to be free from something in order to succeed if we can identify this early enough then the child will succeed not only in the classroom but in life. William Glasser wanted teachers to have the professional ideas of his theory and thought process in his Choice theory book so that we could have a guide to identify our children needs.
For students, to do quality work, they must be managed in a way that convinces them that the work they are asked to do satisfies their needs(Jones, V., & Jones L. 2013). The more teachers do to promote an productive environment meeting their needs the harder they will work. Instead, we as teachers are required to stuff students with fragments of measurable knowledge as if the students had no needs like they were just things (Jones, V., & Jones L. 2013). Due to this lack of connection with our students needs and low quality of teaching the material we are creating students who are resisting learning and this is seen as a discipline problem.
Another concept of students needs is offered by Coppersmith. His research is associated with self-esteem Self-esteem as a construct or an acquired trait, that is, an individual learns how worthy they are initially from parents (Gonzalez-Mena, J. 2010). This is and can be reinforced by others such as family member and teachers. The children model the respect and worthiness of self that they see in their parents (Gonzalez-Mena, J. 2010). Coopersmith found that in order to possess high self- esteem, individuals need to experience a sense of significance, competence, and power (Jones, V., & Jones L. 2013). Significance is the same as feeling valued in a relationship with another person. In this relationship both people care about one another in a very loving way. You can’t give this feeling in a child. You can try to influence it with words and deeds, with nurturing and protection, with caring, and with meeting needs, but you can’t make sure the messages you send are the ones the child will receive (Gonzalez-Mena, J. 2010).
Competence is developed overtime, but the final goal is to preform a socially acceptable task at the level of his/her peers or at time even better then ones peers. You can influence competence in a kid by helping him become very skilled in a number of areas (Gonzalez-Mena, J. 2010), however whether the child feels competent is if they compare themselves to someone that is more competent then they are (Gonzalez-Mena, J. 2010). Power involves being about to control ones environment. Feeling that you have control over the person that you are, making things happen in the world, having an effect on the people and events in your life, and living your life satisfactorily gives a sense of power (Gonzalez-Mena, J. 2010) In having power it can raise your self-esteem. An example of gaining power, if a student knows, understands and follows the rules he/she could have the opportunity to choose a topic of study. In doing this they gained power of choosing what they study and will then again raise their self-esteem.
In reviewing the information of each theorist, there are three that show similarities and differences in how they categorize the behaviors in children. Glasser and Dreikurs along with Maslow consider basic physical and psychological needs and the importance of recognizing student needs which informs a more holistic approach to teaching,motivating ,and managing students behavior. Where Coppersmith’s theory is based solely on Self Esteem. He has a way of breaking down the progression of self-esteem on how a student will move towards having power of his/her choices, as the others have a systematic way of needs being met. Maslow and Glasser use a system of Hierarchy per say that if basic needs are met water, food and shelter that they can move towards the goals of self actualization and freedom. Where the student has the right to make choices in their learning, or self actualization which they have reached full potential and are at peace where they are.
However Dreikurs approach is how the needs are not being met that will escalate a child’s behavior. That if the child does not get the attention they are looking for they move to a power struggle and nine times out of 10 they win over the teacher. If a teacher can with hold giving that negative attention then it moves up toward revenge stage where things might be destroyed and finally to where they display inadequacy. We do not want kids to get to the point of not caring. Dreikurs and Coppersmith both realized that self-esteem and encouragement to build up a child would allow the student to reach full potential. That encouragement focuses on the effort the child is making right now and would build up the self-esteem of the child to have a sense of importance and push toward goals to finish.
After reading about these theorist and looking at my past years in the classroom I find that William Glasser, the author of The Choice Theory, and I share the same beliefs on classroom management. This theory that is based on the idea that students are responsible for their own behavior and that each of them can control how he or she behaves. As a teacher, even as a first year teacher, I have held my students responsible for their own behavior and they are the captain of their ship. I stress the importance of thinking about the choices they are making before they act upon it. The first couple of weeks of each new school year I act out and model behaviors that are expected of them in the classroom and around the school. In some choices I will act out the wrong way and use think aloud process so they can hear my thoughts that are going through my own head. As the year progresses and they know what behaviors are expected I then will have them reflect in a journal on the behavior choices they made if it wasn’t a wise one and how they could correct it the next time with out having to take a time out to reflect. A lot of my though process to the students is to think before you act.
I also believe in building up future leaders. I want to to be a teacher that builds relationships with the students having fun and enjoyment in the classroom while also allowing them to have the freedom to explore ideas and want to ask questions about their learning. I want them to have a positive interaction with me as a teacher to feel safe and loved in our little community we form on the first few weeks of school. Teaching should not be controlling, but working along side my students so that they learn, grow and succeed at their own rate, with encouragement from me, their teacher.
Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you (Barker, K. 1995)”. I believe this relates to me teaching my students daily that they are responsible for their own behavior but I am close by to counsel them, daily with a loving eye and grace as our Lord does daily and will forever. Each day is a new day yesterday’s behavior wiped clean like our sins to our father in heaven. That teaching them I am not above them and make wrong choices as well will allow them to know I am human as well. Which lead into the verse found in Luke 6:40 “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher (Barker, K. 1995)”.
That teaching them how to think about the choices before acting on them aloud with them allows them to know that I am making choices many times each day and when I fail, it is ok. We need to look at how we reacted, or a choice we made and recognize how we can change. In changing our choices we are growing. In teaching my students from day on at every moment I can I am reminded of Deuteronomy 11:18-19 “ Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (Barker, K. 1995)” That along every day task it is a teaching process. To stay the course and teach them, correct them and guide them on how to become a person that is self sufficient, and able to go out of the classroom and make the same choices and grow and mature own their own after they leave me.
Barker, K. (1995). The NIV study Bible (10th anniversary ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan
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