Charlotte, North Carolina
Ever have a problem with a student calling out in class?
I’ve been teaching for seven years, but last week, I finally learned how to solve the student disruption problem.
I was completely frustrated with a student who would not stop calling out in class. The students around him seemed equally aggravated. He couldn’t stop from whispering to others and blurting out answers. Finally, I moved him to the back of the room until I could figure out what to do next.
- I could yell at him in front of the class and kick him out of the room.
- I could write him up and send him to the office for in-school suspension.
- I could give him silent lunch and call his mom after school.
I’ve tried some of these strategies before, and was ready to try one of them again, until I froze near the back desk and scanned the room. I looked around and saw the rest of the class fully-focused, working hard on the assignment just like I asked.
Rather than scream and yell at that one disruptive student, I walked over to my desk to try a different tactic. I shuffled past a few folders and found some old thank you cards. I thought back to a student that actually was raising his hand in class, participating in the discussion, and working well with everyone around him.
And then I started writing.
I told that boy how proud I was of him this year and how lucky I was to have him in my class. I told him how he made me a better teacher every day and that he had a great future ahead.
On my break, I wrote five more thank you letters to other student leaders I could think of off the top of my head. By the time I handed them all out, my frustration from that one disruptive student had disappeared.
And later that night, I got an email from a mom. She explained that her son showed her the card as soon as he got home from school. She went on to say that her son was having a hard time feeling like he couldn’t measure up to his older brother in high school, but the note gave him a boost in his self-concept.
In all my years of teaching, I don’t know why I never asked myself the question before: Why should one student who is doing something wrong distract me from the twenty-nine who are doing what’s right?
I think the biggest problem of a student who calls out isn’t that they distract other students; it’s the distraction they cause in the heart of their teacher.