Johnny is gurgling and making the most bizarre noises. You cruise by and use one of the least intrusive teaching strategies to deal with disruptive behaviours - the rule reminder.
And then it starts!
You give Johnny a rule reminder by quietly reminding Johnny that making noises is disruptive to others. This is one of the teaching strategies you commonly use for disruptive students and it is has worked in the past.
As you walk away and resume teaching, Johnny mumbles something to the effect about you being not nice (maybe worse) and continues to groan, call out and generally being annoying.
The kids who are sitting nearby suddenly turn their focus to Johnny. Or rather they turn their focus to see what YOU are going to do about Johnny.
Now is the turning point. You are going to need all your effective teaching strategies to stop this situation from blowing up in your face.
You could turn to Johnny and start the battle. "What did you say to me?"
Of course you could really fire a round across his bow by repeating it but louder. "WHAT DID YOU SAY TO ME?"
The power struggle is on!
Didn't we learn anything from Vietnam?
Obviously, not wanting to look weak, you respond to the non-compliance in increasingly more adamant tones, demanding compliance.
However. also not wanting to look weak the offending student won't back down in front of other kids, Johnny mutters something really nasty. Something about YOU.
Now there really has to be a loser. This has now ed into a battle with two distinct sides.
Neither side wants to back down, things escalate to the point where the student is sent out. When I was principal, these students ended in my office.
The teaching strategies employed here developed a need for a winner. And the winner is the one who looks less bad.
I suggest that, as common as these teaching strategies are for dealing with disruptive, they don't work.
When my kids were teenagers their last word during any disputes was often some puffy response like, "Whatever. You don't understand." This would often rile the shackles of my parenthood, But usually this followed some sort of tacit compliance. They would do what was ask - albeit begrudgingly.
The challenge for me was to stay focused on the outcome without getting trapped by their attitude. It is, after all, just "huffing and puffing"
Like classroom teaching strategies, this situation holds true when dealing with difficult students.
The best teaching strategies are those that stop the behaviour so you can return to teaching.
When students become disruptive keep the focus on the disruptive behaviour so you can get back to teaching.
Stop the battle from escalating by dealing with secondary behaviours.
You can always deal with secondary behaviours later.
It is more important to let the class know that your primary goal is to value add to their day.
Start your relief teaching day by letting kids know your expectations.
After class talk about the behaviour but don't start a battle.
"You behaviour tells me that I am not doing a very good job getting you interested. I can't let you disrupt the class. I am going to work harder, and you can help by letting me know what you are willing to do differently. "
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