Society & Culture & Entertainment Education

How to Manage the Cycle of Acting-Out Behavior in the Classroom


    • 1). Arrange your classroom with management in mind. The physical layout needs to be designed in a way that discourages disruption. Arrange the desks and tables so that you can easily interact with every student and so that all students can focus attention on you or the board or projector screen. Keep in mind that particular students may be more or less successful in different locations. For instance, a student that needs frequent teacher contact should not sit in the middle of a long row where it is difficult to get to him or her.

    • 2). Differentiate your teaching and individualize it as much as possible to make lessons effective for every student in your classroom. A bored student can easily find something inappropriate to do in class, so include movement and student interaction in your lessons. Have students provide explanations and show examples instead of lecturing them and expecting them to sit quietly.

    • 3). Give students your attention. One motivation for acting-out is to gain attention. Ensure that all your students receive personal attention from you as much as possible.

    • 4). Teach the desired behaviors. Don't assume that students will come to your class with an understanding of your rules and procedures or even of general school rules. Explain student expectations and always model appropriate behaviors yourself. Teach and reteach appropriate behavior throughout the year. One way to accomplish this is through the way you redirect student behavior. If you expect students to be kind and courteous to each other, treat them in that manner. If you need to ask students to stop talking, ask them quietly and politely, without seeming confrontational. Say something like, "This part is really important, so if you could please stop talking we'd all be able to hear it." Be genuine with your delivery and don't forget to thank the student for complying, just as you would expect students to interact with each other.

    Acting Out

    • 1). Identify the triggers that may cause certain students to exhibit acting-out behavior. If you know a student's trigger, you may be able to take steps to prevent it. You may also be able to anticipate acting-out behavior and intervene before it escalates. Keep in mind, some triggers may be uncontrollable, but some are predictable. For example, students can be dependent on a structured schedule and abrupt changes in their usual routine could trigger acting out. When possible, let students know about any events that might be different than their usual schedule. Some students might need to know about that fire drill in advance or an afternoon assembly.

    • 2). Address student behaviors as soon as you detect agitation. Some students may need to perform movement activities and others may need to be encouraged to participate in the lesson. Always give students choices instead of demanding that they do one thing or another.

    • 3). Avoid escalating your own response as student behaviors escalate. Do not argue with students or struggle for power. Redirect a student to display the appropriate behavior and show attention to other students who are behaving appropriately. Remember to keep giving choices, Explain to the acting-out student that his or her first choice can be a positive one or the second choice may be to continue to act out, but also explain that the second choice will have a consequence.

    • 4). Administer a fair, predictable and reasonable consequence if the student does not correct the behavior. Draw as little attention as possible to the consequence. Do it in a matter-of-fact fashion and continue with your teaching. It's also important to make the consequence fit the offense. A student talking in class at inappropriate times may line up last for recess or even be assigned a recess detention, whereas punching another student will warrant a more severe consequence, such as an out-of-school suspension. Do not dwell on the consequence after the fact; it was a result of the behavior and should not be held against the student. Continue to reinforce a student's appropriate behavior by noticing it and responding positively.

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