Every teacher must have experienced having that one kid who simply won’t behave in class. He cannot pay attention. He will not follow the rules either will he compromise to work cooperatively with peers during lessons. Also, he wreaks havoc to our carefully designed activities, and all we can think of are the remaining days until this kid would be out from our grasps.
When we meet these students in our class, we often feel enraged and frustrated that the efforts we put in preparing the lesson are just wasted because of some disruptive behaviors. Sometimes, we even think that these kids’ misbehaviors are predetermined.
Although it is true that some students make it their lives’ efforts to misbehave in class and make everyone’s lives in class miserable, the majority of classroom misbehavior stems from different factors. Being familiar with these factors can help us make an intervention to help these students.
Here are some of the factors that cause student misbehavior in class:
Demotivated to learn
Motivation plays a significant component in learning because it leads behavior towards a goal. At the same time, students who are highly motivated to learn have an increased initiative to participate in class and persevere to understand concepts during lessons.
Reasons vary as to why students lose their motivation to learn. Some students become disinterested because the content of the subject is too difficult for them. Instead of persisting, they just cease to put any effort because they felt that no amount of hard work can help them improve their academic performance.
In some students, they are afraid of failure, and the moment they see that the skill they are learning is too complicated for them, they just freeze. From that time on, we lose as teachers. We fail to make the lesson accessible to all learning styles.
Solutions to demotivated students
To solve student misbehavior due to demotivation, try some of these suggestions:
- Make your learning objectives clear at the start of the lesson.
- Make the connections on the benefits of learning the skill in their possible jobs in the future. Students get interested in learning if they know why they need to learn the concepts.
- Divide the activities by sets and see how much students can complete within the period.
- You can also try to offer some rewards after each completed tasks. This strategy will promote the idea that learning and education are rewarding. Hard work has some perks in the end.
- Design activities where students can learn in pairs or with their ‘peers.’ Learning with peers will make the students feel comfortable, and they will not shy away from making mistakes unlike when they are asked to share their ideas with the whole class.
- As teachers, it will also greatly benefit us if we know the interests of our students. We can use that knowledge in designing appropriate activities for them.
- You also need to assess the difficulty level of the tasks you let your students do. Sometimes, we underestimate them that we end up with tasks that are too simple and easy for them that they become demotivated. What is there to work hard for if tasks are too simple for them?
You will also notice that some students misbehave because they want to have the attention towards them rather than on the lesson or activity.
Here, we have to understand why these students are seeking attention. If it is a group of students, then we can consider peer pressure as a compelling reason why they misbehave.
However, when you have a single student causing the disturbance in class, we need to dig deeper.
This kid might be seeking our attention for varied reasons like lack of love at home or feeling of alienation in school, which can be common to teenagers.
How to deal with attention-seeking students
Our primary concern as teachers is how to deal with these attention-seeking students. The list below can help you with some ideas you can apply in your classes.
- Re-arrange the seating arrangement. Try to separate troublemakers. Put them beside diligent and well-behaved kids. It might be unfair to these hardworking kids, but if it can help you deliver your content precisely the way you have it planned, then it is a decent trade. Make sure that these trusted students understand your motive behind seating them with the troublemakers. You can also have the attention-seeking kids occupy the front seats, so it will be easier for you to call their attention the moment they start misbehaving.
- Don’t get too stressed out with these misbehaving kids. Just focus your attention on the students who are steadfastly learning and completing their tasks.
- Try to talk to these students and find out their interests and hobbies. By seeing and understanding what makes them tick, it will give you a mental template on how you can best handle these kids in class. You might even be surprised to find out that they are cool kids. It is just that they feel unloved by family at home or by friends in school, so they resort to misbehaving to get the much-needed attention.
Student Misbehavior due to Disengagement (‘boredom’)
Frederick, Blumfield, and Paris (2004) concluded that “engagement is associated with positive, academic outcomes, including achievement and persistence in school.” For our lessons to be successfully delivered and the objectives met, we need to ensure that our kids are engaged all throughout the presentation.
The moment the students feel out of depth with what is happening in class, they become disengaged. This disengagement leads to misbehavior. Being alert to any signs of boredom in our students is one of the many tasks we teachers should do.
Knowing when the students are getting bored will help us make the necessary adjustments in our lessons. More often than not, students get bored because they think the discussion is uninteresting. Other times, the lessons are too difficult for them, and they see no point in cracking their heads to understand the concepts.
Punishing students for inattentiveness and disengagement will not be helpful for them. As teachers, we need to build lifelong learners. The more we punish the students, the more they develop hostility in the subject we are teaching. Teachers should have bags of tricks in dealing with this kind of misbehavior.
How to boost engagement in your class
Here are some of the ways you can adapt in your classes to make sure that your students are engaged with your lessons.
- You need to design your lesson in a fun and interesting way. If the students are having a good time while learning, then they are likely to participate, and misbehavior will be avoided. Involve them in the learning process. Create activities that will guarantee their participation. You can use Total Participation Techniques for your student’s active involvement during discussions.
- You need to make your lessons meaningful and relevant. It is more inspiring to study skills and concepts if we know their significance in our lives. Your students will participate more if they can see how beneficial the skills are in their lives, especially to their future careers.
There are many factors on why students’ misbehave in class. As teachers, we need to be aware of these factors so that we can immediately implement possible interventions.
One of the most effective ways to involve the students in class is using Total Participation Techniques. The Filipino Teacher is excited to share with you these fantastic techniques. Please join us in our first ever seminar workshop.
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Together, we will learn, apply, and decode these strategies so that we can successfully use them in our classrooms.