Novice teachers' management of learner discipline problems in a rural secondary school in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN)
Memela, Godfrey Khululekani Sihle.
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The study was an exploration of novice teachers' management of learner discipline problems in a rural secondary school in KwaZulu-Natal. Although the policy context for maintaining a level of discipline that will facilitate an environment that is conducive to learning seems to be in place in most functioning schools, learner discipline problems in South Africa and worldwide seem to persist despite these policy contexts and processes. The study intended to answer the following research questions: What is the various learner discipline problems novice teachers experience at school? How do novice teachers manage these learner discipline problems at school? In answering these questions, the researcher used a qualitative approach within the interpretivist paradigm. The exploration was a case study design using data gathered from a single secondary school and the instruments used were interviews with and observations of the participants who were novice teachers. The study was framed within the framework of Albert Bandura's social learning theory. Within the frames of this theory, the researcher aimed at understanding how novice teachers managed their behaviour through an understanding of the learners' disruptive behaviours. The findings of the study revealed that novice teachers, in their early years of their teaching, are usually settling in and during this period they are being confronted with, amongst other issues, the challenge of managing learners' discipline problems. The most profound finding relates to a "blame game‟ that is played by the novice teachers. Here the novice teachers blame, on the one hand, external contributors for learners' behavioural problems such as their parents, the community, the school and the learners themselves; on the other hand they also blame themselves. Furthermore, gendered issues related to learner discipline problems were evident. It was found that male teachers would take the initiative to discipline learners but that female novice teachers were reluctant to exercise strong disciplinary measures. A key recommendation is that education officials ensure that appropriate education legislation and guidelines are distributed to schools each year. Also, the researcher suggests that parents visit schools regularly in order to discuss the problems that occur at home. Finally, there should be school-based mechanisms to assist novice teachers not only to settle in, but also to manage learner discipline problems.