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The learning atmosphere in schools have changed drastically over the years and the schools which were once considered safe are becoming sites of bullying, violence and anti-social activities, Presently the school administration and also the teachers are under tremendous pressure for ensuring a safe, disciplined and effective learning environment, enabling students to acquire academic and social skills that would equip them in academic achievement and assist them in the overall development of the students. This recent increase in the pressure is greatly due to the increasing incidences of violence in the schools and played up by the media and the challenges faced by the teachers in deciding the most appropriate disciplinary measures to set the problem student back on the learning path. This brings to light the changing profiles of teachers, from that of good academicians to that of a versatile educator-cum-counsellor-disciplinarian, capable of guiding his students through the thick and thin of social and family influences to achieving success in schools and beyond.
The recent reports of students' shooting in schools and the increasing incidences of bullying and other violent acts of students towards both fellow students and teachers has led to considerable research in the area, specifically to find the causes of violent behavior. The research suggests several major causes that are closely linked, making the task of addressing the causes extremely difficult for the schools and teachers. In the last two decades, school community have become more and more diverse as students learning in the same classroom hail from a wide spectrum of cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, languages and traditions. Poverty, racism, unemployment of parents, abusive parenting practices, substance abuse, easy access to weapons, and frequent exposure to violence through the media are all identified as causes for the rising violence in schools. With that schools are also increasingly facing the challenge of creating safe learning environments that address the individual student's learning and developmental needs and also support the needs of entire students as a group.
This means that the schools have to go beyond the instruction system based on academic curriculum, and help the students to gain pro-social skills and behavioural that would assist them to deal with the values, which are diverse, and the social norms of a society, which is pluralistic. Strategies are being analysed to prevent school violence and improving the student's social skills and competence that would enable the student interactions to be productive and make the interpersonal relationships in schools more positive. Developing pro-social skills in students not only help the student to benefit socially, but also academically, because appropriate behavior in schools enable students to be attentive to instructional programs and also the instructional time is also not lost in disruptive incidences of violence. However developing pro-social skills in problem student as seemingly as it is. Both teachers and parents are of the view that performing of disciplinary measures for the purpose of correcting the ant-social behaviours of students are consuming a great deal of the time for instructions. (Skiba & Peterson, 2000)
Also the punishment methods and exclusion strategies that were earlier thought as appropriate to tackle disciplinary problems, are not rejected as short-term cures and research even indicate that, punishment and exclusion are ineffective in the long-term and often leads to new occurrences of disruption and rising anti-social behaviors. (Mayer, 1999) This increases the challenge on the teachers, as they are often required to understand the student's problem and also the underlying factors from such sources as families, friends and also the specific features of the student's community. (Smith, Cowie, and Blades, 1998) Teachers are therefore needed to skilfully involve with families in varied ways to understand the general development of the student and also observe the circle of friend and associates that a student keeps, so as to understand their nature and needs. (Hartup, 1996)
As punishment and exclusion are increasingly classified as ineffective in correcting problem students teachers need to target the key problem behaviors and inculcate situation-specific social skill lessons into the academic curriculum to guide the student to proper behavior. In attempting to do this, the teachers are also needed to 'match the level and intensity of instruction to students' social skills deficits' (Gresham, 1998) In order that the incidences of school violence be prevented or limited in future, it is necessary that teachers understand the specific causes of children's aggressive and violent behavior. Violent and aggressive behaviour in children could be due to the inherent or inborn factors and at times need to be considered a " conduct disorder" and experts suggest that by providing continued support and affectionate nurturing such students could be brought to control their behavior.
The child-rearing practices and experiences, also affect the ability of children to normalize their aggressive impulses, more so when the parents has personality problems as the psychological make up of the children is often damaged as they try to adapt to their environment. The other factors that affect the child's development include a violent or inadequate family life, ineffective schooling, criminal history of parents, and exposure to real or media violence etc. Racism and lack of opportunity often provoke aggressive instincts behavior in minority classes and expressions of aggression are at times evoked by poverty and class differences. Along with other out-of-school intervention techniques experts recognize the role of school and teachers and indicate that the teacher should be trained to identify the specific problems of such individual students and the educational and counselling programs should be initiated and directed towards helping the student to gain prosocial skills apart from academic achievement. With increasing need to develop students' academic skills, the educational system have now recognised the necessity of enhancing the social instruction skills for promoting student behaviour, as this would ensure students' access to academic instruction also.
With a proper understanding of the causes, the teachers would be better equipped to adopt preventive measures that eliminate behavior problems at the inception itself by helping children feel safe, secure, and being taken care by concerned individuals and institutions. The most vital factor in promoting children's social development is recognised as attaching the child with encouraging and caring adults: teachers who provide unreserved approval and support, model prosocial behavior and lead a life committed to positive values, and also educate the child on the importance of such values (Grusec, 1982). The closeness of the student with the teacher would deter aggressive tendencies in children as the student's craving to gain teacher's praise and approval keeps him off from aggressive instinct and to take active involvement in educational activities.
Teaching social competence in schools as a part of the academic curriculum or otherwise, creating a positive and calm environment congenial to learning, establishment of behavior standards and establishment of norms, rules and regulations for responding to violence are strategies that are increasingly being adopted to prevent anti-social behavior in schools. An increasing emphasis is placed on the overall environment in the school to promote a prosocial approach to life, and also on the need of teachers and other instructors in school to model prosocial behaviors setting examples to the students (Grusec, 1982).
A and the need to teach social competencies across the curriculum. Strategies that could be adopted beyond the academic curriculum include developing a school wide antiviolence program, working with students to develop a list of behavior that need to be adopted in school, develop games that would improve the pro-social skills of the students, increasing parent involvement in school activities etc.
A teacher's role and influence in developing social skills in the students is greatly dependent on the teachers' attitudes and behavior that would enhance the students' sense of self-worth and concern for others, and also reduce their aggressive tendencies. Schools therefore need to ensure that teachers are appropriately qualified, are concerned and enthusiastic about the student needs, promote students' general development as equally as academic achievement and provide adequate support to the children's need and continually model prosocial behavior Teachers need to adequately respond to a student's incapacity to perform a social skill as exactly as the way they would respond to a student's inability to complete an academic task. This emphasises the need for professional development and competency of teachers to provide all the expected guidance to the students and increase their social competencies along with imparting the academic instruction covered in the curriculum.
Developing and encouraging behaviours in the classroom which are appropriate socially would create opportunities to reduce the time which are to be spent for taking disciplinary action and would result in greater access to academic content by the students. General research indicates has shown that on an average 80% of the students in school's normally responds positively to instructions relating to pro-social behavior and skills, whereas 15% of students need supplementary instruction and attention that would need to provided by targeted situation-specific lessons. Students totally impassive to both targeted and school-wide instructions constitute about 5% and represent the most difficult challenge to the teachers…[continue]
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