2 Effective Steps To Deal With A Disruptive Student

Gene Therapy is an amazing technique in biotechnology used to fix a broken gene that causes a disease (the link leads you to a story about a blind boy how can now see!).  For example, the CFTR gene is damaged in an individual suffering from the respiratory illness Cystic Fibrosis.  To help the patient utilizing gene therapy, two things must occur:

First, the damaged gene must be identified.

Second, the damaged gene must be replaced.

If they occur, the individual has the potential to see a decrease in symptoms and become healthy.
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The idea of fixing broken genes through a therapeutic process is awe-inspiring, but not the subject of this article.  For more information on gene therapy, read The Forever Fix by Ricki Lewis.

Identifying a corrosive agent and fixing it by inserting the properly functioning component is a ubiquitous
concept.  This article is about applying the idea of gene therapy to classroom management.  You'll learn the two step process used by expert teachers to change the behaviors of problem students quickly and efficiently.


Another familiar example is helpful at this point.

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As you drive home from school, you realize your vehicle is under-performing.  It lacks power, is making an ominous clunking sound, and as you accelerate, it wheezes.

Something in the engine is broken.

You bring it to your mechanic.

Al, the 95 year old automobile encyclopedia examines your car and says: "Yup, just as I thought, spark plugs gone bad.  I'll have er' fixed up in no time and you'll be on your way."

60 minutes later you are driving home with a car that is working properly and has no symptoms of inefficiency.

We find it interesting that Al, the mechanic, only replaced the broken component.  He DID NOT say: "Yup, just as I thought, spark plugs gone bad.  I need to replace the entire engine..."

Al identified what needed to be fixed, and replaced only the broken plug just as gene therapy identifies the broken gene, and inserts a functioning version in its place.

There are massive classroom management implications here.

We ALL have classes, lessons, students, and components that are less than stellar.  And we ALL want to fix them.  Can you teach at less than 100%, with the tough class still tough, with the shaky lesson still shaky, with the student still being the student.  Sure we can, just as you can drive a car that is slightly broken.  Do we want our instruction to operate like a well oiled teaching machine?

Absolutely.

And we can, if we take a lesson from the identify and fix it mentality of gene therapy and Al the mechanic.

Lets use the student as our example.  They talk excessively, display rude and disrespectful behavior, and in general are just disruptive.

Today, the student is on all roll and verbally engaging a neighboring student during some direct instruction.  It is time to address the problem and intervene.

Typically, we may say: 'Stop doing that' or, 'please turn around.'

But let's use the gene therapy way of managing that situation.

Step One: Identify the issue.  They are talking.

'You are talking while I am.'  Strait, to the point, and direct.

Step Two: Insert the appropriate behavior:

'You are talking while I am.  Rather than talking, I need you to write down what's on the over-head please.'

This works for two reasons.

It first satisfies the golden rule of classroom management- it addresses the student's behavior, not the student personality/identity.

Second, it is a Goldilocks statement- not to harsh, not too easy, just right.  It is fair.

If the student gives you lip, just repeat it- 'I need you to write down what's on the over-head please.'

To manage a situation where you desire efficiency, attack the problem from a gene therapy lens- identify the problem (vocalize it if appropriate) and insert the desired behavior.

It is simple, pragmatic, and something you can start doing tomorrow.

Give it a try and let The Pragmatic TV Teacher know how it works!

Thanks for reading.

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