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<<  Synergy Alternative High School / PBIS and Discipline / Solutions to Common Classroom Disruptions
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The National Education Association (NEA) has some fantastic resources available here. Below is a summary of some of their suggested solutions for teachers to use in address the following problems: 1. Confrontations with students; 2. Students who are distractions to the learning of others; 3. Students who are not listening, and 4. Students who speak inappropriately and/or use obscene gestures.

 

1. Confrontations with Students

Before you act, you should know:

  1. What triggered the confrontation? Did you issue a challenge? ("Do you want to leave this class?") Did you "put down" the student? Is the student challenging you?
  2. Can the situation be avoided or delayed? Should there be a cooling off period? Should there be an audience?
  3. What are the consequences? How will this result in a better relationship?


You can try:

  • Showing that you are in control of yourself by using relaxed gestures and a steady voice.
  • Moving to a neutral location.
  • Restating problems or feelings you think you hear, using "feeling" words.
  • Focusing on specific behavior and not on the person.
  • Withholding judgment until there is an agreement on what happened.

 

2. Students who are Distractions to Learning of Others

Before you act, you should know:

  1. What need the student is trying to fill (acceptance, love, attention, and worth).
  2. What the consequences have been for the student's behavior up to now.
  3. What attitude the other students demonstrate toward this student (respect, dislike, and envy).
  4. Whether this is a problem of behavior or attitude.


You can try:

  • Planning a contract with the student that specifies what you will do in recognition of a change in behavior.
  • Using a "time out" place to remove the student from the situation. This place in the room, contains no distractions, and is not a punishment, but rather an aid for focusing.
  • Telling the class there will be 10 minutes of free time if the work is completed on schedule. Put the number 10 on the board. If distractions occur, cross out the 10 and reduce the free time to 9. Usually, other students will put the pressure on the troublemaker to behave.

 

3. Students who tune you out and/or struggle listening

Before you act, you should know:

  1. What percentage of the students are tuning you out?
  2. Has tuning you out become a habit for these students?
  3. Why are students tuning you out? Are you saying relevant things? Have you been talking too long? Are you talking beyond the students' capacity to understand? Are you excited about what you are saying? Is the student preoccupied with personal problems?
  4. What does your response to the "tuned out" students say to them? Are you personally offended? Have you become defensive? Are you disappointed with yourself?

You can try:

  • Ignoring these students, letting them experience the consequences of their behavior.
  • Enjoying the students who are tuned in.
  • Probing some other interest that these students may have.
  • Observing closely for possible learning problems or physical problems that may be influencing these students.
  • Stating your feelings about their behavior.

 

4. Students who speak inappropriately and/or use obscene gestures

Before you act, you should know:

  1. If the student knows the meaning of what he or she is saying or doing.
  2. What triggered this behavior (anger, attempt to be funny, need for attention, shock value)?
  3. Who this was intended for? (Was this meant for another student? Was this meant for you to see and/or react to?)
  4. Whether or not this is worth a confrontation -- major or minor.
  5. If you can turn this into a positive learning experience.


You can try:

  • Not registering shock, anger, or embarrassment -- but keeping your cool.
  • Ignoring the behavior.
  • Asking the student the meaning of what he said or did.
  • Asking the student to use a substitute word.
  • Calling a conference with the student and the parents of repeat offenders to emphasize your position on cursing in school.

 

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