How Effective Teachers Differentiate Instruction and Interact With Students Who Engage in Off-task Behaviours in the Classroom
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The purpose of this study was to discover and describe how two teachers effectively interacted with and differentiated instruction for students who displayed off-task behaviors in the classroom. Through the use of observations and interviews, I described how two teachers interacted with students who display high-frequency, low-intensity off-task behaviors; identified strategies these effective teachers used in dealing with these behaviors; described where the teachers’ behaviours, attitudes, and practices lay on the Preventive-Restorative (P-R) continuum of beliefs of inclusion; and discovered how the teachers’ self-efficacy is related to P-R orientations and effective teaching behaviors. The teachers were chosen based on their principals’ belief in their effectiveness in dealing with off-task behaviours. The principal and the teacher collaboratively chose the students who displayed off-task behaviours on a consistent basis. The findings of this study confirm the existing research; the two teachers, whose beliefs lay on the preventive end of the continuum of beliefs of inclusion, tended to use effective teaching practices; these beliefs and practices were related to the teachers’ beliefs of their capability in being able to effectively help their students; these two teachers, who have preventive beliefs and high efficacy beliefs, interact in ways that are beneficial to students who display off-task behaviours. The common themes that emerged through the analysis of both teachers’ data included the belief in and the use of differentiated instruction; the belief in the importance of having a positive classroom environment; the practice of ensuring student engagement; the teachers’ use of their knowledge about students; and the teachers’ beliefs about inclusion and efficacy beliefs. The diversity of the teachers and their classroom contexts resulted in some differences in the findings, which are also discussed. This research extends previous research about teachers’ beliefs about inclusion and efficacy beliefs to teaching practices used for and interactions with students who display off-task behaviours. The findings also extend previous research revealing a relationship between teachers’ beliefs about inclusion and the belief in the importance of creating a positive classroom environment. Implications of this research for practice and for future research are discussed.