Describe an example of disruptive or challenging behaviour you have encountered in your teaching, and discuss techniques you could employ to help you avoid or respond more effectively to this behaviour n the future. Include a brief discussion of the role the organisation in this situation. I am teaching Technical Theatre in a Sixth Form College. There are seventeen students in the class, all aged between 16-18 years with five male and twelve female students. Teaching takes place in a Drama Studio with chairs already positioned in a horseshoe, and the class is made up of mixed ability but excellent class motivation.
There is one student, Sean, who is challenging me with his disruptive behaviour. He is continuously late for lessons, and does not participate in any activities within the lesson. He will walk in late, acknowledge me and sit down, normally repositioning his chair behind another student. Once in the lesson he isn’t disruptive by talking but he doesn’t respond to group work, Q and A or any practical type work.
The first occasion he arrived late, I made a fairly lenient stance and purely asked why he was late. He replied that his Parents car had a puncture. He then went and sat down and was quiet for the rest of the lesson, and I didn’t give any more thought to his lateness. The very next lesson, he was again late, and as he entered the classroom I stopped addressing the remainder of the class and questioned him infront of his fellow students. I could see immediately from his body language that he was very uncomfortable with this, and he became even more reserved. Almost immediately after I had adopted this approach, I realised that I had not succeeded in dealing with the situation in a productive or positive manner, and I had actually hindered the situation to a greater extent.
The following lesson Sean was again late, but this time remembering my failure to address the previous situation in a positive manner, I decided on a different approach. I acknowledged Sean as he walked in, and he quietly sat down as I continued to discuss a topic with the class. I realised that my actions last time had not only disrupted Sean’s learning, but also that of the class. When I reached a satisfactory point where the class could work independently from me, I asked Sean if I could have a quick word with him outside. Once outside, I spoke to him in a clear manner, not talking down to him in anyway, asking why he was late, and listening to his explanation. I then asked him if he wanted to tell me anything else, he replied he didn’t and I didn’t force this issue any further.
I informed him that I unfortunately would have to report his lateness to his tutor, as that is the College procedure, but I didn’t want to approach the issue of his lack of involvement in the classroom until I had spoken to his tutor in regards to this. As there might be other issues I am unaware of, and the College has a set procedure for following this through. I was also slightly reluctant to become to involved in that side as I knew I would have possible issues with my own tutor group to deal with, but I would continue to have regular communication with Sean’s tutor to hopefully resolve the problem. I also decided that speaking to his other teachers to discover whether they had any problems or disruption with him.
I felt that my role as the teacher with Sean, was to concentrate on my approach within the classroom setting, so I decided to follow what Clark Lambert suggests in the Reader. That is to apply two strategies: 1. Never embarrass or ‘put down’ the problem participant infront of the class. 2. Handle the situation early before it becomes a serious matter. I realise now that that I certainly didn’t adhere to rule one when I questioned Sean infront of his class.
Lambert goes on to say ‘although its sometimes tempting to react strongly to the individual causing the problem…the majority of the other participants will usually empathise with the embarrassment of the individual you just ‘put down’, resulting in a downward spiral of class motivation’. I appreciate that the disruptive behaviour of one or more students can easily become infectious, with it resulting in a predictable level of ‘unsatisfactory learning’. This is where I would implement strategy two, so that I defuse any situation, and hopefully I have achieved that by having a quiet word with Sean, and also monitoring any further ongoing disruption.
I followed this with another classroom approach from the reader, which suggests ways to contain and inhibit disruption. I adapted the ‘Importance’ strategy as although its meant for a student who is wants to be seen as ‘See how important I am’, I felt it would actually work with Sean. When he arrived I greeted him and informed him that I was glad he could attend and that this group really could use his help, as they are working in an area he has knowledge about. I wanted him to feel wanted and that he was actually making a beneficial difference. This seemed to work, by no means was he as involved as other students, but there was definite improvement.
I am going to follow up the success of that with further techniques hoping to aid the development of Sean. In class Q and A’s I want to try and involve him slowly with confidence boosting questions that I know he can answer. I will try to do it inadvertently by following on from a question or an answer from another student by saying something along the lines of ‘What do you think about that Sean? You have experience in that field’. I also want to try him working in different groups, so I can gage if there is type he works better in. Firstly, I will place him in a weaker or quiet group to see if he takes the initiative with fellow student looking up to him.
Then, by nominating that each group has a spokesperson or scribe that has to report their results back to the class try to involve him slowly. Depending on how that transpires, I could place him in a high attainment level group to see if they can bring him along on their level, hopefully he might rise to their level. I recognize that it might also work the opposite way and he become dominated and retracts. I would monitor a group like this from afar but be ready to working closely with them if and when needed.
One final aspect that I will continue to do, and I mentioned it previously, is to let Sean know that I am available if he wants to talk to me. At the end of the next lesson I will ask if he can see me briefly so I can ask if he is enjoying the class, how he is finding the work and let him have the opportunity to say if there is anything else on his mind. I will inform him that my door is always open and anything that is said is totally confidential. Hopefully, this will build a strong and trusting rapport. I understand that this is an ongoing process and that I can’t have the definitive answers, but through close work with myself and the College, I feel positive that we can create an enjoyable and valuable learning experience for Sean.