We all have many examples of classroom behaviour which could amount to annoying, disruptive, argumentative, bloody-mindedness performances, but what does it mean?
If you've read the classroom management books, watched the videos, taken the step by step approach, I'm sure most of the ideas you've collected will work with many of your students who display low level disruption.
But there’s just one thing that you need to hang onto – along with your sanity - if you want to stay in education without burning out early.
So much of the conduct is about avoiding work. When you look at it this way, it becomes much easier not to take it personally (even though it feels like it sometimes), and therefore deal with it more effectively.
I asked colleagues on Twitter, Facebook, via email and in real life (yes, really) to let me what stories they could tell about work avoidance techniques.
To get this straight, we are looking past the behaviour and watching why it’s happening. But often the WORRY that your students are getting the better of you will bring about the FEELING of anger. It’s at this point that you need consider all other options. It isn’t about YOU, it’s about THEM!
"School/college is blocking my search I can't do any work!" (In this example I would check the search myself and gain the help of another student to sort it with IT.)
"I forgot the memory stick so I can't do anything" (Pair up students so that they can move forward whilst using previous work as a reference.)
"The printer isn't working so that's it for today" (See below**, although gain collusion with other students into finding the solution.)
"I had a late night" (Your response: "We'd better keep you busy then, you can start by handing out this work/cleaning the board/sitting close to me")
"Have you seen this new app?" (See **redirect behaviour below)
"Chelsea are rubbish" (Your response: "You might be right, but (see **redirect behaviour below))
"It must be in my other bag...." (Pair up students so that they can move forward.)
"I haven't got my pen" [It's amazing how many don't. I usually ask if they forgot they were coming to college, or offer an elastic band so that they can attach it to their phone - because the phone always makes it to class. And then I lend them a pen.]
"This phone call is private. It's my HUMAN RIGHTS to take it NOW!" (See **Deferred Consequences or **Choice)
In all cases, I recommend some of the approaches which I have learned by watching others, reading copious books, and then adapting to suit FE. But a solution-finding approach is one which ALWAYS suits me best.
Using the When-Then approach
**It is preferable if you were to say “When you have found a printer that works, then you can check your work and hand it in, then we will go for a break” than “No, you cannot go for the break yet because you have not handed in your work.”
**This approach is really useful, particularly if working with low level disruptions. It stops the escalation. You deal later with a student which therefore removes any possibility of an ‘audience’ (the rest of the class) and there is less likely to be a possible confrontation. Dealing with a student on a one-to-one basis is more likely to have a positive outcome. For example: “We can’t sort this out now. We can talk at 11am."
**You need to remind the students what they should be doing and avoid getting involved in discussion. The idea is to focus their attention onto the work or task. For example: “OK Tom and Jane, we’re summarising the paragraph page 23.”
**This approach gives students the feeling that they have some control. You'll find that it reduces the likelihood of point-blank refusal.
“I want you to get on with your work or (xyz consequence occurs) it’s your choice.” “Are you choosing not to follow my instruction?” or “Sit over here or next to Peter (implicit choice)”
Mix and match these approaches throughout your lessons.
For more information, look at this "Behaviour Intervention" website which I recently came across : http://www.interventioncentral.org/behavioral-interventions/challenging-students/school-wide-strategies-managing-task-inattention
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