Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Redl & Wattenberg Discipline Model Written by John Andrius

The Redl & Wattenberg Model of Dealing with the Group

Group behavior differs from individual behavior Teachers can learn how to use influence techniques to deal with undesirable aspects of group behavior
Key Ideas
  1. People in groups behave differently than they do individually. Group expectations influence individual behavior, and individual behavior affects the group. Teachers need to be aware of the characteristic traits of group behavior.
  2. Groups create their own psychological forces that influence individual behavior Teacher awareness of group dynamics is important to effective classroom control.
  3. Group behavior in the classroom is influenced by how students perceive the teacher. Students see teachers as filling many psychological roles.
  4. Dealing with classroom conflict requires diagnostic thinking by the teacher. This thinking involves:

    • forming a first hunch;
    • gathering facts;
    • applying hidden factors;
    • taking action; and
    • being flexible.
  5. Teachers maintain group control through various influence techniques. These techniques include:

    • supporting self control,
    • offering situational assistance,
    • appraising reality, and
    • invoking pleasure and pain.
  6. Supporting self-control techniques are low keyed. They address the problem before it becomes serious. They include eye contact, moving closer, humor, encouragement, and ignoring.
  7. Situational assistance techniques are necessary when students cannot regain control without assistance from the teacher. Techniques to provide assistance include:

    • helping students over a hurdle;
    • restructuring the schedule;
    • establishing routines;
    • removing the student from a situation;
    • removing seductive objects; and
    • physical restraint.
  8. Appraising reality techniques involve helping students understand underlying causes for misbehavior and foresee probable consequences. Teachers 'tell it like it is', offer encouragement, set limits, and clarify situations with post - situational follow-up.
  9. Pleasure-pain techniques involve rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior Punishment should be used only as a last resort because it is too often counter productive.
Redl and Wattenberg view the group as an organism. 'A group creates conditions such as its members will behave in certain ways because they belong to it; at the same time the manner in which the parts function affects the whole'. In other words, group expectations strongly influence individual behavior, and individual behavior in turn affects the group.
Roles of Individuals within the Classroom
Redl and Wattenberg describe several roles that are available to individuals in groups. The following are some of the roles that can cause trouble in the classroom:
A leadership role is available in almost every group. The role varies according to the group's purpose, makeup, and activities. Within the same group, different people may act as leaders in different activities. For example, a student who is a leader in physical education may fulfill a different role in music. Group leaders tend to share certain qualities. They are above average in most respects(intellect, social skills, responsibility, and socio-economic status). They generally have a highly developed understanding of others, and they embody group ideals. Teachers must be aware that the leaders they appoint are not necessarily the group's natural leader. Such mismatches often lead to conflict within the group.
Clowns are individuals who take the position of entertainer of the group. Students sometimes take this role in order to mask feelings of inferiority, thinking it best to make fun of themselves before others have a chance. Clowns sometimes help the group and sometimes hinder it. Clowning can be beneficial to both teacher and the group, especially when students are anxious, frustrated, or in need of relief from tension. At times, however, group members may support the disruptive antics of the clown as a way of expressing hostility to the teacher.
Fall Guys.
A fall guy is an individual who takes blame and punishment in order to gain favor with the group. Members of the group feelfree to misbehave knowing that they can set up the fall guy to suffer the penalties. Teachers need to be aware of this kind of manipulation and be sure to focus their corrective actions on the instigator of misbehavior
Instigators are individuals who cause trouble, but appear not to be involved. They often solve their inner conflicts by getting others to act them out. They may even feel that they are benefiting the victim in some way. Teachers need to look into recurring conflicts carefully to see if there is an unnoticed instigator. It may be necessary to point out this role to the group, as it is often undetected by them. The group may need help in recognizing and discouraging this role.
Comment on Group Roles
All of the roles described here are played by individuals in groups either because the role fills a strong personal need or because the group expects or enjoys it. By playing a role, an individual finds a place within the group ­ one of the main desires of almost all students ­ and becomes a functioning part of the organism.
Psychological Roles of Teachers
The ways in which groups and individuals behave in the classroom are greatly influenced by how they perceive the teacher. Like it or not, teachers fill many different roles and present many different images. Some of these roles and images are:
  1. Representatives of society.
    • Teachers reflect and develop values, moral attitudes, and thinking patterns typical of the community.
  2. Judges.
    • Teachers judge students' behavior, character, work, and progress.
  3. Source of knowledge.
    • Teachers are the primary source of knowledge, a resource from which to obtain information.
  4. Helpers in learning.
    • Teachers help students learn by giving directions, furnishing information, requiring that work be done, removing obstacles to learning, and facilitating problem solving.
  5. Referees.
    • Teachers arbitrate and make decisions when disputes arise.
  6. Detectives.
    • Teachers maintain security in the classroom, discover wrongdoing, and handout consequences.
  7. Models.
    • Teachers model customs, manners, values, and beliefs that students are to imitate.
  8. Caretakers.
    • Teachers reduce anxiety by maintaining standards of behavior, consistent environments, regular schedules, and freedom from danger or threat.
  9. Ego supporters.
    • Teachers support student ego by building student self-confidence and bettering self images.
  10. Group leaders.
    • Teachers facilitate harmonious and efficient group functioning.
  11. Surrogate parents.
    • Teachers are a source of protection, approval, affection, and advice.
  12. Targets for hostility.
    • When student hostility cannot be appropriately expressed to other adults, it may be displaced onto teachers.
  13. Friends and confidants.
    • Teachers can be talked with and confided in.
  14. Objects of affection.
    • Teachers are often objects of affection and esteem, as well as crushes and hero worship.
Comments on Psychological Roles of Teachers
As you can see, teachers are assigned many roles by students. Sometimes they have little choice about those roles, but they can usually decide in part on the roles and on how and when to assume them. They may assume some roles wholeheartedly and avoid others completely, depending on how they wish to relate to students. Sometimes they may adopt or avoid certain roles, if they are aware of a strong group need. In any event, teachers need to be sure that they are steady and consistent in the roles they do assume.
Application of the Model
(Christine will not work)
Christine, in Mr. Jabe's class, is quite docile. She never disrupts class and does little socializing with other students. But despite Mr. Jabe's best efforts, Christine rarely completes an assignment. She doesn't seem to care. She is simply there putting forth virtually no effort. How would Redl and Wattenberg deal with Christine? Redl and Wattenberg would suggest that teachers take the following steps in attempting to improve Christine's classroom behavior:
  1. Follow the steps in diagnostic thinking: Develop a hunch; gather facts; try to discover hidden factors; apply a solution; try another solution if the first does not work. That might lead to questions such as: 

    • Does Christine have emotional problems? Are things difficult for her at home? Is she withdrawing into a fantasy life? Will a warm, caring approach help?
  2. Depending on the conclusions reached in diagnostic thinking, the teacher would try out one or more of the following solutions: 

    • Sending signals to Christine. (I know you are not working).
    • Moving closer to prompt Christine into action.
    • Showing a special interest in Christine's work.
    • Employing humor (I know you'll want to finish this in my lifetime!)
    • Offering assistance to Christine.
    • Telling it like it is (each incomplete assignment causes you to fall further behind and affects your grade!).
    • Removing Christine from the situation (You can return when you have completed your work).
Further information regarding this model may be found in the following references:

Charles, C. M., 1989, Building classroom discipline: from models to practice, Longmans Inc., New York. (pages 3-19).
Redl, F,. & Wattenberg, W. 1951; 1959, Mental hygiene in teaching, Harcourt, Bruce and World, New York.Redl, F. 
1972, When we deal with children: selected writings, Free Press, New York.

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