Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education

Major

Teaching-Learning Processes

Date of Defense

5-12-2014

Graduate Advisor

Alina Slapac, Ed.D.

Committee

Lisa Dorner

Virginia Navarro

April Regester

Abstract

Teachers at every level of schooling recognize the need for establishing a positive learning environment. Creating this type of classroom is a worthwhile but elusive goal due to ineffective approaches to managing student behavior. This is a common challenge for teachers and schools of every kind and every level but may be magnified for schools with specialized missions, such as language immersion schools. This dissertation examines teacher perceptions of a classroom management and behavior support system called Positive Behavior Support, or PBS, specifically within urban language immersion schools. Research questions explored include: 1) In what ways do teachers at urban, language immersion schools comprehend, support and utilize the PBS system? and 2) How do teachers' understandings of PBS and adapted classroom management practices match (or not) the PBS goals of the school? I surveyed lead teachers (n=28) at two language immersion elementary schools and completed a qualitative case-study examination of two teachers at one Spanish Immersion Elementary School (SIES); data included semi-structured interviews, observations in classrooms and an examination of PBS documents and artifacts. Major findings from this study show that SIES teachers are informed of, and involved with, the school’s particular version of PBS and they are confident about the actual and potential benefit PBS offers in their own classrooms and throughout the school. SIES teachers have (1) made a conscious effort to utilize the school’s implemented version of PBS, (2) prioritized the school’s goals and definition of PBS, and simultaneously, (3) thought and acted in ways demonstrating they had the flexibility to change the school’s approach to PBS to better fit their classrooms’ needs. Teachers feel PBS has allowed them to develop better interaction with students, in particular, but also with parents and even other teachers. Finally, while teachers have identified a large number and type of PBS-related school improvements, they have also experienced difficulty when it comes to utilizing PBS in their unique immersion and urban contexts.

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