Full Moon and High Tide


Frequent Classroom Disruptions


The Solution


Responding to Disruptive Behavior, Part 1

Research has indicated that inappropriate classroom behavior is primarily due to two factors: social skill deficits and a school and/or classroom environment that fails to meet the child’s personal and academic needs (Jones & Jones, 2007). Hence, to resolve behavioral issues, we must first create a positive, inclusive and relevant learning environment and then initiate interventions that focus on the students acquiring new social skills rather than on levying punitive measures (Laureate Education, 2007).
For this application, I have identified four strategies for responding to minor disruptive behavior. Each would lend potency to both the development of positive learning cultures, as well as reinforcing appropriate interpersonal skills. As such, they would be a welcome addition to my classroom management plan.

My first strategy is a five step response to malapropos behavior that incrementally increases in severity  as the sequential gestures or requests are issued (Jones & Jones, 2007). To begin, the teacher issues a non verbal cue (points to the rules). If that does not work, he/she issues a verbal cue (“Please follow our rules”). The third stage in the sequence (if necessary) is to offer the child a choice (“Sara, if you continue to get out of your seat, we will have to work out a plan”). If the misbehavior persists, indicate the option the student has chosen (“Sara, you have chosen to develop a plan.”). If the first four steps have not extinguished the “brush fire” the teacher may wish to move the student to an area outside the classroom (“Sara, I really want to help you solve this issue here in the classroom. However,  if you are not willing to do this, I will have no choice but to send you to Mrs. Smith.”) (Jones & Jones, 2007).  Once there, the child can fill out a reflective form. The form on which the child devises his/her plan is offered by Jones and Jones (2007).

Name date
Rules we agreed on
Please answer the following questions
What rule did you violate?
What did you do that violated the rule?
What problem did this cause for you your teacher and your classmates?
What plan can you develop that will help you be more responsible and follow the classroom rule?
How can the teacher or other students help you?
I, ___________________ will try my best to follow the plan I have written and to follow the other rules and procedures in the classroom that we created to make the classroom a good place to learn (Jones & Jones, 2007, p.331).

The aforementioned strategy offers the student the opportunity to become aware of and align her behavior with the rules. This is one desired outcome. She is also offered a non punitive chance to correct her miscue by reviewing the rules and then taking written responsibility for her behavior. Lastly, she is allowed to formulate a regimen that will allow her to improve the said behavior in the future.

An ounce of prevention is worth  a pound of cure. The prescient, aware instructor, by “reading the class” as he/she teaches, can stop many disruptions literally before they start (Jones & Jones, 2007).   To initiate this “scanning strategy” arrange seating patterns so that you can see and move among the students (Jones & Jones, 2007).  .Survey the “landscape” frequently; lend proximity to any suspicious developments; believe in the maxim, “touch a shoulder and reach a heart”; stay calm, be firm and polite, and finally, clarify to the student(s) why you are paying attention to a particular situation. In addition, be ready to involve the child in the search for a solution, while offering compromises and choices that will leave the child more amenable to altering the behavior.

This approach has a number of advantages. To begin, the desired outcome (preventing the misbehavior from occurring) is generally achieved. Further, the teacher actions inform the class that their “leader” is alert, diplomatic, empathetic, reasonable and collaborative. Next, by specifically identifying the behavior that first rang the alarm and by including the child in resolution development, the child becomes aware not only of his own behavior, but how to improve on it as well.  Finally, the collaborative, calm, non punitive manner that the instructor implemented leaves the child with his/her dignity intact.

A great deal of misbehavior is rooted in a search for power (Jones & Jones, 2007).   Counterintuitively, punishment by the teacher detracts from that power and encourages the misbehaving student to be more aggressive in their ill-advised pursuits (Jones & Jones, 2007).   As part of my next strategy for dealing with deportment issues, I will begin with the advise “stay calm, take three deep breaths and make quiet contact with the student” (Laureate Education, 2007). Before initiating verbal volleys, try the quiet approach. Place an “informative” sticky note on the desk of the child, call on this student, or use his/her name as part of the lesson (Jones & Jones, 2007).  If verbalization is necessary, have a private conversation and use the word “reminder” rather than “warning” (Jones & Jones, 2007) Then identify and validate the feelings that precipitated the behavior (Jones & Jones, 2007). Next, be sure the student identifies and takes responsibility for the actions in question. Since the class views the teacher as acting in a safe, secure, firm and loving manner, the desired outcome for this approach, the positive ripple effect, is precipitated (Laureate Education, 2007). At the same time, the spiral effect, which may trigger more serious behavioral offenses on the part of the offender, is avoided. The targeted behavior outcome is that the child at the center of this maelstrom learns more about his/her own actions as well as acquiring alternative approaches to master good behavior.

The final strategy that I would like to incorporate into my classroom plan is included as part of the Teacher Behavior Continuum under the section “Techniques for Looking” (Laureate Education, 2007) During this active listening approach methodology, the teacher becomes part therapist as child and instructor, in tandem, explore the child’s feelings, and actions. The goal is to draw the child out, validate his/her feelings, be non judgmental, and finally develop the foundation for child to discover a possible solution (Laureate Education, 2007). To initiate this response to maladaptive decorum, the instructor should adopt an equivocal countenance as he/she closes space on the youngster while maintaining eye contact (Laureate Education, 2007). If the youngster is in a primary process thinking phase (very upset and threatens to devolve into a more dangerous metamorphosis) the child may not be ready to negotiate a change in behavior at the moment (Laureate Education, 2007). Instead, have the student sit for a while and calm down. At the appropriate time begin a colloquy with the learner. At this juncture the teacher becomes an active listener, encouraging the child to expand on his/her feelings as well as the situation at large. It is important that the educator does not render value judgments (Laureate Education, 2007).  Summarize or paraphrase what has been said (Laureate Education, 2007).   Allow the student to take responsibility for the actions and, with minimal help from the teacher, devise a personalized solution. Not coincidentally, this latter action serves as both the desired outcome, as well as the recipe for refined comportment on the pupil’s part.

In conclusion, the reader will be quick to note that there is a singular absence of authoritarian methods in my repertoire of approaches. The rationale for this is thus. Research studies by social scientists suggest many children, because of domestic influences, associate authority with abusive behavior and abandonment (Jones & Jones, 2007). Accordingly, it is the wise educator who searches for alternative methodologies. There is also a de-emphasis on punitive, negative approaches since they are not only ineffective in creating positive demeanor changes but actually inhibit learning (Jones & Jones, 2007). To wit, in order to create safe, secure classroom cultures, we must instead focus on problem solving and teaching social skills along with the correlating engaging instruction (Jones & Jones, 2007). Furthermore, a classroom management system should never be quixotic, erratic or discretionary (Bennett, Finn & Cribb, 1999). Antithetically, it must be predictable, clear, sequential, dignifying, culturally sensitive and educational. This last point has important ramifications.  By treating behavior problems in a manner similar to how we handle academic problems, we can use our considerable expertise in analyzing the classroom environments and assisting students in developing alternative comportments more aligned to the properly adjusted and educated child (Jones & Jones, 2007).

Responding Effectively to Disruptive Student Behavior, Part 2

Problem solving strategies are interventions generally implemented by the teacher to correct significant or frequently occurring misbehavior (Hoffmann-Zak, 2007).
There are numerous advantages to utilizing the problem solving method. First, the problem solving session takes place in private. This eliminates the possibility of a classroom confrontation where there is a winner and a loser (Kelly, 2009). These encounters can lead to disruptions that are, by and large, greater than the initial disturbance by the child (Laureate Education, 2007). Secondly, the meeting takes little time, usually five minutes or less (Jones & Jones, 2007). Thirdly, the sequential steps make it a logical and relatively easy structure to implement (Jones & Jones, 2007). Next, by actively involving the student in the discussions and negotiations, we allow the child the opportunity to deeply examine the behavior that led to the session (Jones & Jones, 2007). Broadly speaking, this leads to clarity, responsibility and willingness on the student’s part to devise a solution. Lastly, because we are concentrating on a single specific problem, data can be collected for later affirmation or negation of the behavior changing plan (Jones & Jones, 2007).

The following strategies are based on William Glasser’s seminal approach to sequenced, logical resolutions to classroom decorum dilemmas (Glasser, 1984). The first step in the problem solving process is to establish a caring and supportive relationship with the student. This will help open the door to communication as well as instill an intrinsic motivation to please the teacher. Later, when a behavior problem arises, this “relationship bank account’ will pay dividends (Jones & Jones, 2007).

Once a compelling incident occurs, it is necessary to employ the second stage in the process. Here, we encourage the student to detect and describe the demeanor under consideration. Awareness that a problem exists is usually the first step on the road to “recovery.” The teacher can coax information from a reluctant child by asking “what” “and “where” questions regarding the specified incident(s). “Why” questions are usually avoided since it opens the door for the student to make excuses (Laureate Education, 2007).

Next, having pinpointed the maladroit behavior, the children need to realize that these actions are not only non productive but possibly harmful to themselves or others. Information-eliciting questions are often enlightening. These include “How is this behavior helping you?” Or, “How might your actions be hurting others?”  Depending on how responsive the child is, the teacher, at this point has the option of postponing further discussion until the child is more amenable, or, playing the “consequence card.” These last two choices should not be used until all other approaches have been attempted (Jones & Jones, 2007)

Phase four revolves around the child developing a plan to change the behavior. We can accomplish this by pointedly asking, “What can you do to change your tardiness”, or “What kind of plan can you come up with to make sure that you are no longer late for class?” (Jones & Jones, 2007)

The next measure is to have the child commit to the plan (Jones & Jones, 2007).This pledge is usually a verbal agreement between teacher and student that the youngster will give the plan a try. However, a written compact can also be devised, with parents, administrators and specialists included among the signees (Jones & Jones, 2007).

The penultimate step is to schedule a session where the initial results of the proposal can be evaluated. These meetings can take place as soon as later that day, or on a weekly basis. Among the items discussed might be possible glitches in the plan, or celebrating the child’s success in reaching the new behavioral standards (Jones & Jones, 2007).

The final step may not be necessary. It is only implemented if the scheme turns out to be a failure. At this juncture, it is important to keep two things in mind. First, because we want to maintain a positive, supportive environment, we should not punish the student. Conversely, neither should you accept excuses. Instead, the session should focus on why the initial plan did not work as well as  laying the groundwork for the child to develop an alternate strategy. However, if the child continues to be stubborn about rehabilitating his/her demeanor, punitive consequences may be the only logical action (Jones & Jones, 2007).

In conclusion, reflecting on the problem solving process, the desired outcome and overarching goal is for the student to permanently change the behavior under consideration (Hoffmann-Zak, 2007).  Other beneficial support systems to ensure this result include maintaining a positive, supportive classroom culture, having the child identify and take responsibility for the considered actions and finally, by developing an personalized schemata for behavioral improvement, having the child internalize the values contained in the plan (Hoffmann-Zak, 2007) In this manner, the learner becomes a self-motivated searcher and seeker, looking for ways to make his/her daily orbit a better place for everyone.


Bennett, W., Finn, C., & Cribb, J. (1999). The educated child. New York NY: The Free Press.

Glasser, W. (1984). Control theory. New York: Harper and Row.

Hoffmann-Zak, K. (2007). Collaborative problem solving calms and educates explosive students.
Teach, 12–13.

Jones, V., & Jones, L. (2007). Comprehensive classroom management: Creating communities of
support and solving problems
(Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Upper Saddle
River, NJ: Pearson.

Kelly, M. (2009). Retrieved on February 10, 2010 from the website:

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2007). Program Nine “Models of Discipline”
{Motion Picture}. Baltimore: Wolfgang, C.




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