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How to maintain discipline in the classroom with the presence of disruptive or off-task behavior?

How to maintain discipline in the classroom with the presence of disruptive or off-task behavior? | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Maintaining discipline in the classroom is a constant challenge to teachers. The problem is made apparent with the presence of disruptive or off-task behavior from students and can pose a challenge to both teachers and well-behaved students alike. To gain insight into how to address this issue, classroom interventions meta-analysis is reviewed briefly. Several techniques mentioned in the meta-analysis have been noted and are compared to previous personal teaching experience.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Sheng H.

A Meta-Analytic Review by Geraldina F. Gaastra

The research begins with a brief introduction to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) children’s behaviors. According to statistics, 5-7% of the population is afflicted with this disorder, which roughly translates to having one child with ADHD per thirty-person class. Although the likelihood of such children exhibiting these behaviors is higher, off-task behavior is not uncommon among other children. Therefore, the interventions can be extended to those who do not have the disorder as well. To address disruptive or off-task behavior, three types of interventions are presented in the meta-analysis: the antecedent, consequence-based, and self-regulation interventions.

The antecedent-based intervention modifies the environment such as changing seating arrangements or changing the interaction from teacher and student to students and their peers. The consequence-based intervention uses reinforcement and punishment to change the frequency of the target behavior, such as praising students when they behaved well or reprimanding them when they behaved poorly. The self-regulation intervention is an intervention aimed to help students develop their own self-control and problem-solving skills, which generally involves peers monitoring each other and reminding each other to stay on task.

Discipline Techniques

The research presents three techniques for maintaining discipline which teachers may already have been using. When maintaining discipline in the classroom particularly around 10-12 years of age, many students are distracted or disruptive. Children may speak out of turn, be unfocused and space out, or chat with one another. From personal experience, when dealing with disruptive behavior such as chatter or making noises, strategies of reward and punishment are helpful. The task is stopped and time is set aside to address the problem. The students are told to repeat what was said or invited to share what they were chatting about. When students are on task, they are rewarded with extra break time or with candy. However, caution is advised with the use of candy. The students may become too fixated on the reward.

Rearranging the seating can also have a direct effect on minimizing chatter and off-task behaviors. By pairing louder with quieter children, the volume can be better controlled. Secondly, when rearranging groups, it is also helpful for students to have buddies that regulate or monitor each other to stay on task. Lastly, the approaches may be used together. An example of this would be to have the whole class be quiet within ten seconds or recess time will be reduced. The whole class is encouraged to work together (self-regulation and self-control), or else a reward or reprimand is given (consequence-based).

Also read: Getting Student Placement Right - The Best Desk Arrangements for EFL Students

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Maintaining classroom discipline can be a daunting task particularly when disruptive and off-task behaviors are frequent. A meta-analysis is reviewed and three categories of techniques have been identified to be effective. They are the antecedent, consequence-based, and self-regulation techniques. Without knowing, teachers may already have employed one or all of these techniques in the classroom. The techniques used most often from my personal experience are the consequence-based and antecedent techniques. In conclusion, it is important to have techniques available to maintain discipline in order to optimize the learning experience for students.

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