Interesting Stories

What To Do??? - Disruptive and Wandering Students!

You have a student who is constantly disrupting others while you're teaching. You have a "wanderer" who takes off for the bathroom and comes back 20 minutes later. What does a teacher do????

I've  had many fifth graders who love to roam the halls when they leave the room to go to the bathroom. When I was a new teacher it was frustrating because if I was ready to start something new, I had to wait for the kid to return so I wouldn't have to repeat my instructions. 
I've also taken many student teachers over the years and I've told them what works for me. I know you already have teaching experience but this might help with fifth graders. It works like a charm for me. 

First, the most important thing is to never reprimand a kid for inappropriate behavior in front of his/her peers.I sure know that I wouldn't want a boss yelling at me in front of other teachers, thus the same goes with kids.

If someone is acting out and disrupting the class, my method is to tap the kid on the shoulder, with me not showing any emotion.. no anger, nothing...  and motion to the kid with my finger "to follow me". Usually all the other kids sit up and take note, wondering what I'm doing.

Then, I walk out of the room with the kid behind me. I close the door and of course all of the kids are really wondering what I'm doing. 

Here's a typical scenario...

I look at the kid and ask very quietly... "I noticed something you were doing that's not appropriate and it's bothering the other kids. Do you know what you were doing?"

"Uh huh. Yeah, I was trying to take Bobby's pencil".
"Should you have been trying to get Bobby's pencil when I was teaching?"
"Uh.. no."  (Kid looks down at his feet).
"Do you like being in my class?"   Kid looks up, a bit surprised.
"Well, you know what? I think you have a lot to offer this class but you haven't proven it to me yet"
"You do?"
"Oh yes. I'd really think you probably have some good ideas that you should share with us.' (Kid looks amazed)
"I guess so"
"Do you like being in this class?" (Another surprised look)
"Well, you know what? If you keep distracting your friends, you'll have to talk with the principal."
"Yes, or I'll have to call your parents. Would you want me to do that?"
"Oh noooooooo. Don't call my parents!"
"Okay, tell you what, we're going back in the room and no one's going to know what we talked about, okay. I wat you to promise that you'll participate in class discussions and not bother people around you, ok?"
Then I turn and walk back in and all eyes are on me. I start up where I left off like nothing happened. The kids were all expecting for the kid to walk in looking upset,etc. I look at Mr. Disrupter and smile"
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I had a girl who loved writing all over the bathroom walls. I'll call her  "Little Miss Write on the Walls" 
Here's our conversation in the hall.

" I heard that you like to write."
"What? uh?"
"Yes, but I can't tell you where I heard it. I just heard that you have a lot to say and like writing it down but you don't take credit for writing it."
"Really? Like what?"
"Like I said, I can't tell you, except that I heard you write things in places in the school where writing doesn't belong. Do you know what I mean? 
"Oh"  (Kid looks down)
"Tell you what. I'm going to hang a huge piece of white paper on our wall in class, and I want you to write what you'd like on that wall, as long as it's appropriate, ok?" 
(Kid looks up) "Really?" Anything as long as it's good?"
"Right. But that means that you can't write anything on walls in other places around the school, ok? Is it a deal?"
"Yeah. Okay". 
"I'm going to share your ideas and thoughts that you write on the paper, with Mrs. So and so (principal) and show her what a good writer you are, ok?"
(Kid looks up in amazement) "Really?"
"Really. Now let's go back inside like nothing happened, okay? It's our secret but I'm going to tell the other kids about the paper. I also need a promise from you that you only write on our secret paper and no other place around the school, okay? Is it a deal?"
(Kid grins) "Yeah, deal"
Enter the room again like nothing happened then announce to the kids that you have a new idea and say...

"I really think that fifth graders have a lot of ideas to share. Sometimes adults don't think that fifth graders can think like adults, but they're wrong. Sometimes fifth graders have a lot to say and have a lot of opinions and ideas that we should write on this big piece of paper during free times." 

Just remember that your comments and ideas have to be appropriate, no name calling, no names mentioned unless it's a good comment. 

Teacher "Can anyone tell me something that could be written on the paper?"
If you get no response from the kids, write something on the paper like "I like chocolate ice cream cones" or "I love Shadow   He's my dog". or "I'd like to learn more about Science" 
With that, you'll definitely have some volunteers who will want to write on the wall. 

I know of teachers who don't know how to work with kids fairly. I've heard screaming teachers, teachers who berate kids in front of their friends in class and it's disheartening. There are so many kids who need positive reinforcement, praise and who need to know that we teachers really care about them. Kids who write on walls, are seeking attention in negative ways, probably the only ways they know how to get attention. They might live in neighborhoods were graffiti is everywhere and is socially acceptable

The methods I use really work. You'll see the kids whispering to the ones who have been in the hall with you asking them what you said to them.  Inevitably, the kid won't tell them because they felt special and have developed a "friendship" type of relationship. Just remember, though, teachers have to maintain a teacher leadership role.I've known teachers who have tried to be good friends with kids, too friendly and haven't been consistent in their behavior management. Before they know it, the kids take advantage and get away with things they shouldn't..