Support Group for Parents and Teachers

DIFFICULT BEHAVIORS IN THE CLASSROOM: Quick Reference


1. BEHAVIOR:

Rambling -- wandering around and off the subject. Using far-fetched examples or analogies.

POSSIBLE RESPONSES:

o Ask how topic relates to current topic being discussed.
o Direct questions to group that is back on the subject
o Refocus attention by restating relevant point.
o Say: "Would you summarize your main point please?" or "Are you asking...?"
o Use visual aids, begin to write on board, turn on overhead projector.

2. BEHAVIOR:

Shyness or Silence -- lack of participation.

POSSIBLE RESPONSES:

o Appoint to be small group leader.
o Change teaching strategies from group discussion to individual written exercises or a videotape
o Give strong positive reinforcement for any contribution.
o Involve by directly asking him/her a question.
o Make eye contact.

3. BEHAVIOR:

Talkativeness -- knowing everything, manipulation, chronic whining.

POSSIBLE RESPONSES:

o Acknowledge comments made.
o Give limited time to express viewpoint or feelings, and then move on.
o Give the person individual attention during breaks.
o Make eye contact with another participant and move toward that person.
o Say: "That's an interesting point. Now let's see what other other people think."

4. BEHAVIOR:

Sharpshooting -- trying to shoot you down or trip you up.

POSSIBLE RESPONSES:

o Acknowledge that this is a joint learning experience.
o Admit that you do not know the answer and redirect the question the group or the individual who asked it.
o Ignore the behavior.

5. BEHAVIOR:

Heckling/Arguing -- disagreeing with everything you say; making personal attacks.

POSSIBLE RESPONSES:

o Acknowledge positive points.
o Recognize participant's feelings and move one.
o Redirect question to group or supportive individuals.
o Say: "I appreciate your comments, but I'd like to hear from others," or "It looks like we disagree."

6. BEHAVIOR:

Grandstanding -- getting caught up in one's own agenda or thoughts to the detriment of other learners.

POSSIBLE RESPONSES:

o Say: "You are entitled to your opinion, belief or feelings, but now it's time we moved on to the next subject," or "Can you restate that as a question?" or "We'd like to hear more about that if there is time after the presentation."

7. BEHAVIOR:

Overt Hostility/Resistance -- angry, belligerent, combative behavior.

POSSIBLE RESPONSES:

o Allow individual to solve the problem being addressed. He or she may not be able to offer solutions and will sometimes undermine his or her own position.
o Always allow him or her a way to gracefully retreat from the confrontation.
o As a last resort, privately ask the individual to leave class for the good of the group.
o Do not accept the premise or underlying assumption, if it is false or prejudicial, e.g., "If by "queer" you mean homosexual..."
o Don't disagree, but build on or around what has been said.
o Hostility can be a mask for fear. Reframe hostility as fear to depersonalize it.
o Ignore behavior.
o Move closer to the hostile person, maintain eye contact.
o Remain calm and polite. Keep your temper in check.
o Respond to fear, not hostility.
o Say: "You seem really angry. Does anyone else feel this way?" Solicit peer pressure.
o Talk to him or her privately during a break.

8. BEHAVIOR:

Griping -- maybe legitimate complaining.

POSSIBLE RESPONSES:

o Indicate time pressure.
o Indicate you'll discuss the problem with the participant privately.
o Point out that we can't change policy here.
o Validate his/her point.

9. BEHAVIOR:

Side Conversations -- may be related to subject or personal. Distracts group members and you.

POSSIBLE RESPONSES:

o Ask talkers if they would like to share their ideas.
o Ask their opinion on topic being discussed.
o Casually move toward those talking.
o Comment on the group (but don't look at them "one-at-a-time").
o Don't embarrass talkers.
o Make eye contact with them.
o Standing near the talkers, ask a near-by participant a question so that the new discussion is near the talkers.
o As a last resort, stop and wait.

KEYS FOR MANAGING CHALLENGING STUDENT BEHAVIORS—

• Allow children to save face. When we put children down in front of others, the entire class of children will turn against us.
• Do all you can to feel good about yourself and others on a daily basis. Your attitude will come across to your children, so it is important to be in good mental and physical shape.
• If, by chance, you feel that you have spoken sharply in an attempt to manager your children, own up to it. "Wow, that sounded harsh. Forgive me!"
• Instead of holding your children with an iron grip, allow them to be themselves until (and unless) their behavior distracts you or others in the class.
• Remind yourself: "If teaching were easy, everyone would be doing it." Teaching in front of a classroom full of children can be challenging, but on the other hand, very rewarding!
• Use classroom management techniques before you become irritated, impatient or upset. We are much more powerful when we are centered, when we like our children, and when we view our children with fondness rather than impatience.
• When you notice unproductive behavior, nip it in the bud. Otherwise, you send a clear message to the children that it's OK for them to talk while you are talking, etc.

My Out-of-Control Child: Parenting/Teaching
Children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder

* ODD Support Group for Parents and Teachers

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