Friday, January 14, 2011

When do I remove disruptive students?

Ms. Dorothy,
I am in a co-teaching situation with 4th and 5th grade at-risk students. The other teachers remove the student from the classroom after a couple warnings on behavior and send them to the principle - this is what the school has suggested. In my facilitation, I have never chosen to remove a student from the classroom unless they are putting another person in danger. I prefer to talk it out and explain what the problem is and what they need to do. So what is your insight on removing students from the classroom? 
-Music Teacher

Depending on how it is handled, I believe that removing a student from the immediate activity, or even from the learning space is often the right thing to do.  

If a student is disrupting the learning for others, she can be invited to consider the others, or can be reminded of the needs of the others. 
If she persists in the behaviors that are causing the problem, despite being ignored, she should be given no more time, attention or consideration. 

While continuing to talk with, teach, direct or work with the rest of the class, this child can be walked to an alternate place in the room where, from outside the circle of learning, she can observe.

This should not require any discussion because the "warning" has already been given. She knows why, and it is insulting to continue to explain, lecture, yell, correct or chastise her.

Just act. 

If she continues to disrupt from outside the group, she should be removed in the same manner to an alternate safe, supervised space. Without comment.  

The other children in the class will look for consistency from you. So rinse and repeat. 

If you end up in the room alone, continue to play, dance, sing and laugh.
The next day, start with a clean slate, but stay consistent. Some will not need to test you again. 
Belonging is the single greatest need of "at-risk" students. If you are offering something they want, they will work to be a part of it.

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