Strategies for controlling disruptive behavior in the classroom

Written by diane lynn
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Strategies for controlling disruptive behavior in the classroom
Use a firm, gentle voice when dealing with a defiant child. (leonardo irato image by Giuseppe Porzani from

Children come into your classroom from a variety of backgrounds and learning how to manage disruptive behaviour in your classroom can make the environment more conducive for students to learn while at the same time providing you with a more pleasant teaching experience. Whatever the reason for a child's disruptive behaviour, having an arsenal of sound strategies to deal with the behaviour can help your classroom run more smoothly.

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Communicate Discipline Procedures

Whether you are just starting the school year or are well into the year, it is never too late to set expectations for student behaviour and communicate the discipline progression you will employ if disruptive behaviour continues. Post a list of unacceptable behaviours such as hitting, talking disparagingly, interrupting, moving around the classroom without permission, teasing and yelling. Explain to your students that you expect them to listen to you, respect their peers, and participate in class. Instruct your students that if disruptive behaviour continues after a verbal warning, you may remove the student from the area, take away classroom privileges, contact his parents, and involve the school administration. Once you have communicated the progression of discipline, watch for disruptive behaviour. It can be tempting to ignore the behaviour; however, other students will notice whether you follow your established policies.

Reward Good Behavior

Although using a progression of discipline techniques is appropriate in cases of continued disruptive behaviour, you may find that developing a reward system for good behaviour is an effective way to manage your classroom. Avoid using candy or other sweets as a reward. Use a chart system for young children and award stickers for good behaviour. When enough stickers accumulate, reward the entire classroom with extra playground time or special privileges. As older students behave appropriately in the classroom, offer them computer time, extra credit points, a special field trip, or a night off from homework. Use verbal praise and communicate your satisfaction with the children's classroom behaviour to parents and other teachers.

Active Learning Techniques

Disruptive behaviour on the classroom may be a result of a classroom with too little structure or too much free time. Examine your classroom schedule to determine whether your students tend to be disruptive during certain times. If you are teaching elementary school, fill those time slots with activities that engage the children physically and mentally. Hands-on craft projects, learning games, and challenging drills may help the disruptive children stay engaged with the rest of the class. For an older group of students, enlist the help of the children who often cause problems to keep them close to you and boost their self-esteem.

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