Disruptive Student Suggestions


I am using the Raise Responsibility System and feel like I am not only training my students, but training myself, also. It’s taking practice to learn to say “Certainly, when you have….” instead of “No!” But it’s working when I do.

It feels odd to simply say “Thank you” when a student tells me the level of behavior he or she was acting on and move on. Most of the time it works powerfully. They look at me with a baffled expression and we go on with class. Sometimes, there is an atmosphere that doesn’t seem to be working, and I’m not sure what to do next. I went back to the old method of names and checks on the board Friday (highly approved of at my school) but that isn’t working for me. I’m struggling with how to move into doing the responsibility essay and which one to use and when.

I have shared the “chair” illustration with so many people—the one that shows how good it feels to be responsible. It makes total sense to me. Thanks for the new mantra to learn and use: “Responsibility finds a way; irresponsibility finds an excuse. I’m excited to find a way to make the system work for me.


A few suggestions:
Use the Essay Form and the Self-Diagnostic Referral, the third part of Chapter Three in the book.

Pick one or two students who are really causing problems and tell them that YOU have a problem and NEED THEIR HELP. Don’t be afraid to do this. It puts them in a position of helping you and empowers them. Do this in private and have a few ideas how they can help you, e.g., secretary to record the lesson and report to the class the next day, coordinate the passing out or collecting of supplies—anything where they are given some responsibility.

When students feel good about themselves, almost invariably as a result of their own efforts, their chances of behaving on levels C or D dramatically increase.

When someone continues to disrupt the class, have a private conversation and say, “Is what you are doing is  appropriate for your potential?” What do you suggest we do about it? (Be ready to ask, “What else?” “What else?” until you are satisfied with an answer. If the student says, “I don’t know,” respond with an empowering remark, such as, “As capable as you are, I don’t believe that.” After eliciting an acceptable consequence, establish a procedure by asking, “What specifically will you do to remind yourself when the urge comes again?”

Check the section of the book on classroom meetings. Put the problem on the table. Let them know that it is not your problem, but theirs. You will teach whether or not they learn. Teaching is what you do. They have the choice to learn or not. You will not force them to learn—that you cannot force learning even if you wanted to. You are in the boat together. They have the choice of rowing together with you and making  progress or pulling in a different direction and going nowhere—but they will not be allowed to rock the boat. Conclude with the charge: “The decision is yours.”

The key is to have high expectations (levels C or D) and to empower them, rather than overpower them.