First posted on the Teachers.net site. Permission was granted from the author to re-post here:
6th and 7th graders are very impulsive creatures — they have been taught to be impulsive by adults. Don’t believe it? Just go to a teacher training session and observe how the teachers behave while the speakers are presenting! As a society we have become more impulsive, less respectful and less willing to listen to others. Just watch the adults, who come, presumably, to watch a student performance at school; they often talk right through it!
So, I guess my point is that until students are taught and learn self control, are disciplinary consequences really the answer? Is giving them Detention Hall going to make them less impulsive? More importantly, will it make them respect you, make them more excited about school, your classroom, and your subject? My guess is not. You may get through to some but I suspect you will alienate more than you win over.
So in reality, the goal is to teach students self-control and self-discipline. The way you do this is by establishing your own routine when the behavior occurs. Give them the talk about working together (it comes in many forms,) and then just tell them that you are not going to respond to their outbursts. When they do yell out, respond with your cool, calm and collected routine. It becomes a procedure and a learning tool–rather than a consequence.
I have a high level math class and they are the most impulsive creatures I have ever seen! I put a worksheet on a desk and immediately I am bombarded with a million questions before I even finish passing the rest out.
Here is how I respond:
I have a poster on my wall that I got from Dr. Marvin Marshall’s web site. He is the author of the book, Discipline Without Stress, Punishments or Rewards.
We talk about this at the first of the year. With each outburst I simply do not respond. Instead I walk over to the poster, and place my hand next to it like a game show model would present a product. At first it didn’t work, but after a while a few students started with the, “Shut-up”s and “Be quiet.” to their neighbors. Now it takes little more than walking towards the poster to get the desired response; the class quiets down.
The key is refusing to respond to unsolicited outbursts. Never ever respond. If you do respond, it should be with, “As soon as you sit quietly and raise your hand, I will consider responding to you.”
Impulsiveness is not something that can be easily overcome. Our world is full of impulsive and compulsive people. Think of it as another skill to learn–like reading or long division. It takes time and repetition to break a bad habit.