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Focusing On The Impact Classroom Disruptions Have On Others, Not On The Students Doing The Disrupting

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As many teachers already know, one of the most effective responses we can make to classroom management problems is by saying:

“I’m not feeling respected right now.”

Assuming you have good relationships with your students, I’m not really sure if there’s anything better we can say in the moment.

Of course, it’s also important for us to follow-up later with the main student or students who appeared to instigate the problem.

But what do we say to them?

The often-used phrase “Be curious, not furious” is a good guideline – asking the student(s) if they are doing okay, if anything is bothering them, that we’re surprised that they would do what they did, it didn’t make us feel respected, etc.

Today, I read about another idea to add into the mix.

When Kids Break Rules, Emphasize the Consequences for Others appeared in LifeHacker, and talks about research suggesting that instead of us telling students the consequences they might receive because of their behavior is much less effective than making them aware of the consequences their actions are having on others. As a headline in The Science of Us article summarizing the LifeHacker article says “Kids Listen Better When You Appeal to Their Sense of Morality.”

Here’s how the LifeHacker article puts it:

So, when I’m having that conversation with a student who had been disruptive, I should also add a comment like, “I’m sorry you’re having a hard day. Keep in mind, though, that when you act like that, you take away time from some of the other students who are interested in what we’re talking about. I wonder how fair that is to them.”

Just one more good piece of classroom management advice to keep in mind. You might also be interested in The Best Piece Of Classroom Management Advice I Ever Read.

This reminds me of some other recent research finding that thinking of our impact on others can have a major impact on strengthening our motivation to complete a task (see Intriguing Research On How To Increase Intrinsic Motivation).

I’m adding this info to Best Posts On Classroom Management and The Best Resources For Learning About Restorative Practices – Help Me Find More.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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