Turning a child with disruptive behaviour into a role model is a life changer

As teachers, we spend most of our professional lives putting our heart and soul into our lessons. However, when it comes to dealing with unengaged students or students with disruptive behaviour, preparation and good will are not always enough. Punishment is not an appropriate method either. We certainly need a different approach, if we want to teach in a harmonious environment which will help our students learn and grow as personalities.

When parents come to school to be informed about their children’s progress, we usually focus on two parameters: first and foremost, we give a breifing on the marks; next, we let the partents know about the students’ class participation. If the attitude of the learner is negative, we tend to explain to the parents. Sometimes, we use harsh language, like “they are lazy”, “ they do not participate”, “they speak in class all the time”. Perhaps we hope that the particular students will be scolded by their parents and they will change their attitude for the better. In fact, such an approach has inverse consequences.

The backwash effect

Parents are most of the times aware of their children’s academic performance, as well as of their improper behaviour in class. It is, nevertheless, very difficult for them to hear the teacher speak about their offsprings in such a demeaning manner. Instinctively, they tend to dislike the teachers who have an insulting attitude. At the same time, negative reports cause negative emotions to the students who may return to class with the worst of intentions!

There is merit in every child

Instead of opening our class record book and/or complaining about a student, it is better to start the parents’ meeting with focusing on the good qualities the student has. Every child is talented and good hearted, no matter how difficult their attitude may be. It is therefore extremely important to stess that to the parents. We can also ask politely whether there is a problem that affects the child negatively. Last but not least, we must offer a helping hand and be in frequent contact with the parents so as to monitor the progress or the attitude of the student.

Rumors spread

A postive report causes positive feelings. Because parents are grateful after we have unexpectedly praised their children, they will speak highly of us. We need parents to be

allies, not enemies, and putting on a good word is the magic wand to achieve this aim. Positive attitude has such a powerful effect that the students will come to the following lesson with the intent of improving themselves. However, there are occasions in which we should be patient and persistent to achieve a positive outcome.

Long-term projects, CLIL or team teaching are methods which have a transformative power. They are student centered, rigorous and intriguing methods because they give the students a voice to express themselves for any subject they prefer. Adapting our lessons in way that will engage the students will not only tame the trouble makers but it will also attract the attention of all.

CLIL is an ideal method to be implemented in the English Language classrroom because students are given an opportunity to unravel their talents and boost their confidence. Team teaching works well with both weak, strong, introvert and extrovert students. In team teaching activities, students are taught by their classmates and, as a result, drop their emotional filter; they are less embarrassed because the audience is smaller and also because there is no authority figure around to block them. As for the students who take on the role of the teacher, they benefit as well, since they must first understand a concept before they teach it.

When students speak incessantly, our instinctive reaction could be to scold them or start yelling. They will probably stop talking at that moment, but they will also hold it against us. Sometimes, they even bet on the time it will take them to make us lose our temper so as not to have a lesson.

A good advice on such occasions is to change the seating arrangmets. Furthermore, every time students talk during the lesson, try whispering instead of yelling. The more they speak, the softer your voice should be. Students will make an effort to hear you out and they will finally stop talking. After they have calmed down, make no comments and continue with your lesson.

Maybe we have every right to be angry with a student who does not respect the class . We must remember though that positive attitude leads to positive results, not vice versa. Even if we are seething with anger, it is better to send the student outside the classroom to drink some water and ask them to return promptly, providing that they behave as students. The language we use in such cases is crucial and it should be positive. Rather than saying “this is not a coffee shop and your attitude is unacceptable”, it is preferable to say “you will behave as a student because this is a classroom”. When they return, we must make sure to praise them, perhaps after they have given correct answers. In this way, they understand that it was the attitude and not the student we are against.

When children cause trouble, they often cry out for help. Exploit the opportunity of the break to discern whether there is a problem. Be compassionate, listen to their concerns and give them advice. Remember, however, to respect the will of the families and not to cross the line. We must always bare in mind that we are their teachers, not their friends, neither thier

parents; our role is to listen to them but not open up with our own problems. It is extrememly important to keep that balance so as to be able to control the classroom.


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