Respectfully Addressing a Student’s Disruptive Classroom Behavior

One student in my high school learning support classroom frequently becomes distracted and leaves his desk to walk around the classroom. I do allow my students some freedom to move around the room as they need to, but this particular student did so in a way that was distracting to the other students and was an escape from staying on task.

In order to model fairness and reliability in the classroom, I talked with the student privately to create a goal for cutting down on these “classroom strolls”. I began keeping track of the exact number of times he left his chair during class and shared my weekly chart with him. This allowed him to see exactly how much he was doing it, and he was genuinely surprised and agreed to work on minimizing the behavior.

This goal of increasing time on task for this student was created and monitored without any other students in the class knowing or participating. In this way, I didn’t embarrass the student. I was able to build trust and rapport with the student by using non-verbal communication to communicate to him that he was walking and not on task.

I used a non-verbal strategy. I kept hash marks on the whiteboard in a specific place that he knew to look. I never mentioned the reason for the hash marks when I made them, because this was our agreed way to let him see how he was progressing on his goal of staying in his seat.

For a verbal strategy, I communicated with the student’s mother during parent – teacher conferences about his behavior. I kept the discussion respectful by only using the data I collected. Instead of saying “You son is always up walking around and distracting other students.” I was able to say, “Last week he was out of his desk 10 times, but this week he was out only 6. That’s an improvement but we still have work to do.” This strategy kept the discussion respectful and focused on success.

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