Managing Disruptive Behavior in the Classroom

Instructor: Laura Gray

Laura has taught at the secondary and tertiary levels for 20+ years and has a Ph.D. in Instructional Design for Online Learning.

In this lesson, we will explore the possible causes for disruptive behavior in the classroom. In addition, tips and tricks will be presented to help the classroom teacher to effectively manage different types of behavior.

Can I Really Manage a Classroom?

It's a question that all teachers ask themselves over the course of their teaching careers. How can I better deal with disruptive behavior and effectively manage my classroom? We understand your concern. Managing disruptive behavior is no picnic. In fact, it can be downright harrying. But all teachers have to do it in order to foster a successful learning environment. Let's explore some of the root causes of misbehavior in the classroom, and ways you can minimize that behavior.

Why is My Student Behaving This Way?

Another good question. And one that not all teachers stop to consider. Many teachers are so quick to want to extinguish the disruptive behavior, or make it go away, they fail to realize that there is often a root cause. So, what are some of the most common causes of inappropriate behavior in the classroom? Read on...

  • Boredom. Believe it or not, students who are bored with what is being taught are often quick to misbehave. This doesn't mean that you have to stand on your head and do jumping jacks to make the lessons interesting, but you might want to consider both your style of delivery as well as what the student already knows. Kids who are already familiar with what you're teaching can become bored easily. On the other hand, a dry and monotonous delivery can also cause students to tune out and seek other avenues of entertainment.
  • Lack of Understanding . This is another common reason for disruptive behavior. When a child really does not know what's going on, she is more likely to misbehave. That way, she doesn't have to admit that she is lost, and she can focus your attention on the behavior instead. Yep, it's true. This happens often. The next time a child in your class misbehaves, consider that she just might not be able to grasp what you are teaching. She may need extra help from either you or a peer. If this is the case, talk to the student privately to minimize embarrassment, and address the situation.
  • Cultural or Language Barriers. Now, more than ever, schools are becoming more and more infused with children from different cultural or linguistic backgrounds. In cases where English is not a student's first language, those words and expressions that you take for granted simply cannot be understood. Be aware of this, and be sure that your students with cultural and language barriers receive the help they need to succeed.
  • Underlying Disability. This one happens more than you would think, too. Many times, children who have ADD/ADHD or some other yet-to-be-diagnosed issue will disrupt class often. Take this into account, and know what the signs and symptoms are of some of the most common disabilities and issues. This will help you to recommend a course of action to parents. No, you can't say, 'Johnny looks like he has ADD because he is so disruptive,' but you can let parents know that their child is showing lots of symptoms of a particular disability, and that these symptoms are greatly affecting his ability to get work done.

Dealing with Disruptions Effectively

Now that you are aware of some of the common reasons that classroom disruptions take place, you need to have a plan in place to address them. Here are some tips for better managing aberrant behavior:

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