Classroom teachers aim to enable learners to succeed. Wiliam postulates that to achieve this we must raise attainment, which requires increasing classroom engagement (2012).
Within our group, we acknowledged the impact behaviour could have on achieving whole class engagement.
The ‘bad’ behaviours which had impacted classroom learning were varied and we hypothesised on their motivations: some learners found tasks challenging and gave up; some struggled to concentrate due to external distractions; some became distracted by other students and then became distractions themselves.
We chose to focus on this last idea. Many of us felt we could identify particular individuals within our classrooms who were key de-stabilisers; students who created a ripple effect of disruption. They were consistent in the low level disruptions they created. If we could engage them, whole class engagement seemed more achievable.
Positive reinforcement is a powerful teacher tool to influence pupils and raise achievement (Hay-McBer, 2000, pg36) and perhaps equal to this is the impact of peer pressure. By harnessing these tools we sought to increase classroom engagement.
Wiliam advocated the ‘Secret Student’ strategy as a way to improve whole class engagement (2012). The premise is that an individual is selected as the secret student and over the course of a lesson will be judged on whether their behaviour conforms to the rules set out.
By implementing a similar strategy we instil a sense of responsibility for one’s actions. The aspect of anonymity would allow thorough reflection on how the individual contributes to the wider class environment. We believed that this would improve whole class engagement, whilst also upholding the principles Curriculum for Excellence outline in the Health and Wellbeing Framework, by providing learners with opportunities to become responsible individuals (Education Scotland, 2020, pg2).
In placing the responsibility with the class themselves we hoped to improve whole class behaviour and therefore eradicate a barrier to learning.
The aim of this enquiry was to understand the impact of anonymous reward systems on whole class behaviour. We sought to secure whole class engagement by harnessing the powers of peer pressure and transforming them into a positive influence. In creating a common goal for the class to achieve, we aimed to eliminate negative behaviours which were obstructing learning and whole class engagement.