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Time Out: We all have that one student. The one that seems to know just how to disrupt, disrespect, and disassemble a class all without meaning to. They are the ones that, when absent, tend to get more done. But what will you do when they are present and ready to disrupt? How do you curb their tendencies and help them work to achieve?

Take a Breath

First, take a breath. You can count to 10, close your eyes, and remove yourself to the hall for 30 seconds. Whatever works for you to think clearly. Even as adults, we have tempers and we do not always control them to the best of our abilities. The first thing to do before overreacting to the child misbehaving again is to calm yourself. This will help you to redirect the child calmly. Remember that speaking positively and clearly will be the best. “Do not talk during class” will be a negative that the student probably hears (and ignores) dozens of times throughout the day. “Please listen to this important information that will be on your test” is more specific, shows them the importance, and doesn’t tell them ‘no.’

Listen to the Child

Next, listen to the child. Even if the student misbehaves and incites a disturbance, pull them aside and ask them why they are doing it. Normally this will also involve talking with the other student who is involved in the disturbance. If you are currently thinking, “That takes away from instructional time.” What would be better: taking 5 minutes to solve the issue or having students distracted for the rest of class?

Move the Child

If they haven’t listened to redirection or won’t change their actions after addressing the issue, move them. I have a student this year in my first period. He is the instigator: yelling out, yelling at others, talking to himself over me, and on and on. When I realized sitting next to someone, anyone wasn’t going to work, he and I spoke during class and selected a spot near no one else. He is now able to sit, listen, and work. This not only helps him, but it also positively impacts the others in the class.

Create a Behavior Plan

Finally, if the child still is not responding, create a behavior plan. When I taught Kindergarten, I created a chart for my students that needed extra reminders to behave. It was simplistic: one column for each day of the week, one row for each class period or activity, and at the end of the day, they had to have a certain number of smileys (older kids could use plus signs or checks) to receive a treat. The treats are tailored to your student: read to the class, teacher helper, treat note sent to parents, a sticker, an eraser, etc.

Other Strategies

If nothing above works, remove the child from your classroom. Sometimes it requires intervention from others. Keep in mind, though, to start with alternatives other than just your administrators:

– Time out for 30 minutes in another classroom.

– Time out in the front office or Opportunity room.

– Time in study hall during recess.

– Lunch at the silent table.

– Students can call their parents during the day and explain their actions.

If nothing else works, turn to your administrator. They are there to support you as a teacher. It is part of their job description to help deal with unruly students who interfere with instruction. If you have gone through every other option, documented it, and nothing is working or making an impact, your administrator is your last resource.

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