What do I do when
I have a student whose behavior is interrupting the class and other
When a students’
behavior is disrupting the class and/or interfering with the learning
of other students, it must be stopped, and stopped quickly. While the
majority of challenges that you are likely to face in the classroom
will be relatively minor, there will be some that are more serious and
demand greater interference and action on your behalf. One way to address
challenging behavior is to attach logical consequences to it. Logical
consequences imply that one event (or consequence) is guided by another
and has a logical relationship to the misbehavior (i.e. For a child
with extreme impulsivity who blurts out answers, a logical consequence
might be to give the student a yellow "warning" card with
the reminder, "thanks for responding, but remember to raise your
hand"). Logical consequences can help to address some challenging
behaviors, but a consequence will not work every time or for every student,
nor will every child respond to the use of logical consequences.
for addressing challenging and/or disrupting behavior in the classroom
range from proactive (i.e. preventative strategies) to nonverbal interventions
and then verbal interventions. Even verbal interventions exist on a
hierarchy from more teacher-centered to more student-centered. A student-centered
intervention is the more desirable end as it encourages student control
and responsibility for the behavior.
Proactive intervention strategies
to address challenging/disruptive behavior in the classroom include:
pace of classroom activities: Restructure situations and involve
students in other activities that require active student participation
and help them to refocus interests.
seductive objects: Collect the object that is competing with the
boosting: Teacher shows interest in student’s work, thereby
bringing the student back on-task (walking over and checking how
work is going, asking student to share work).
behavior: Refocus student’s attention, ask them to read, do
a problem, or answer a question (treat student as if he/she was
time out: Teacher quietly asks student if she would get a drink
or invites her to run an errand or do a chore.
the appropriate behavior of other students: Make positive comments
about other students’ behavior, which involves making good
decisions. Reminds off-task students of the behavior that is expected
cues for expected behavior: Use a cue that students understand.
One can close the door, flick the lights, or even make a motion
with one’s hands.
intervention strategies or techniques for addressing challenging/disruptive
behavior in the classroom include:
ignoring: Ignoring a behavior, under the assumption that ignoring
it will cause it to lesson and eventually disappear (i.e. student
is engaging in behavior to obtain attention).
Interference: Any type of nonverbal behavior that communicates to
the student without disturbing others that the behavior is not appropriate
(should be clearly directed at the off-task student). If the student
has a hard time with nonverbal cues then discuss a signal that you
will use with them to remind them to stop the unwanted behavior.
Interference: Any movement toward the disruptive student (i.e. move
Interference: A light, nonaggressive physical contact with a student.
Can be taking a hand or placing hand on shoulder (be aware of limitations
and possible negative outcomes).
Verbal intervention strategies for techniques for addressing challenging/disruptive
behavior in the classroom include:
(Peer Reinforcement): Behavior that is reinforced is more likely
to be repeated. Peer reinforcement focuses class attention on appropriate
behavior rather than on inappropriate behavior. Teacher comments
publicly on appropriate behavior of another student.
on the Student/Name-Dropping: Teacher redirects the student to appropriate
behavior by calling on the student to answer a question or by inserting
the student’s name in an example or in the middle of a lecture
if asking a question is not appropriate.
Humor that is directed at the teacher or at the situation rather
than at the student can defuse tension in the classroom and redirect
students to appropriate behavior. (Humor, not sarcasm).
awareness of effect: Teacher makes student aware of impact of his/her
behavior through the use of a rhetorical question, which requires
no response from a disruptive student.
an “I Message”: “I Message” is three-part
message that is intended to help the disruptive student recognize
the negative impact of his/her behavior on the teacher or other
students. Three parts: (1) simple description of the disruptive
behavior, (2) description of its tangible effect on the teacher
and/or other students, (3) a description of the teacher’s
and peer’s feelings about the effects of the misbehavior.
Appeal: Courteously requesting that a student stop the disruptive
Phrasing: When the positive outcomes of appropriate behavior are
easily identified, simply stating what the positive outcomes are,
can redirect students to proper behavior. “As soon as you
do X (make a good decision), we can do Y (a positive outcomes).”
Not For’s”: Use “are not for.” Pencils are
not for drumming on desks, pencils are for writing.
of the Rules: Reminding disruptive students of the rules, when a
teacher has established clear guidelines or rules early in the year
and has received student commitment to them.
Triplets: Teachers direct students to appropriate behavior through
the use of the three questions: (1) What are you doing?, (2) Is
it against the rules?, and (3) What should you be doing? (Asking
open-ended questions may result in student responses that are dishonest,
improper, or unexpected).
Redirection: An order to stop the misbehavior and return to acceptable
behavior (Teacher gives a command and leaves no room for student
“Broken Record”: Strategy for communicating to the student
that the teacher will not engage in verbal bantering and intends
to make sure that the student resumes appropriate behavior. Teacher
begins by giving the student an explicit redirection statement.
If the student doesn’t comply or if the student tries to defend
or explain his behavior, the teacher repeats the redirection.
or Face the Logical Consequences: “You Have a Choice”:
Use of logical consequences. 3 types of consequences: natural, logical,
and contrived. Natural – teacher does not take any action
and allows natural consequences to occur. Logical – requires
teacher intervention and consequences are related as closely as
possible to the behavior. Contrived – consequences imposed
on the student by the teacher and are either unrelated to student
behavior or involve a penalty beyond which is fitting for the behavior.
have a choice”: Give the student a choice of either complying
with the request or facing the consequences. Giving choices.