The title is actually a quote, if you can call it that, of one of my students from class yesterday. Things were moving along smoothly, the students were working together, but all of the sudden, from the other side of the room, this student pierces my ear with a sharp, loud, "HEY!"
Immediately, the classroom productivity was at a standstill. I had no idea why this student yelled out in the way that he did, but at this point it did not matter. In my mind, I labeled him as a "distraction" and it needed to be handled. The question of the hour (more like, half-second) was, "What do I do?"
In Weinstein and Novodvorsky's (2011) chapter, "Responding Effectively to Problem Behaviors," different solutions to behavioral problems in the classroom are presented. I still find difficulty in figuring out where exactly my student's outburst lies on their spectrum. When discussing minor misbehavior, Weinstein and Novodvorsky offer a variety of response strategies (pg. 334) including nonverbal interventions (facial expressions, eye contact, etc.), nondirect verbal interventions (state the student's name, use gentle humor, etc.), and direct verbal interventions (give succinct command, remind students about a rule, etc.). They also suggest a number of strategies to be used with more serious misbehavior (pgs. 338-345), including selecting penalties, mandatory private conferences, loss of privileges, isolation from the group, and exclusion from the class.
I would like to talk more about "exclusion from class." As Weinstein and Novodvorsky put it, "All four teachers believe that 'kicking kids out' is a strategy that should be reserved for major disruption" (pg. 340). The scary prospect, to me, about kicking kids out of the classroom is that not only does it interrupt the learning, but it also makes an example of a student; sort of points them out in front of the entire class.
I won't keep you on the edge of your seat any longer, here's what I decided to do:
After the students adequately reacted to the sudden outburst, I called the student's name (about three times) until he heard me, and I asked him to step outside. I urged the class to keep working on the assignment, and as things got started back up again, I positioned myself outside of the doorway where I could talk directly to the student while keeping my peripheral vision focused on the class. I told my student something along these lines:
"I know that we just got back from spring break and I understand that you may still be excited after getting back from lunch, but that sort of behavior is unacceptable. I do not want to see it happen again, okay?"
The student replied, "Okay," with his head hung low and a frown on his face. He was almost completely silent for the rest of the class period.
The advantage, I believe, to the strategy I implemented was that it made it clear to the rest of the class that this behavior was unacceptable. The rest of the class does not know what I explained to the student, but they know that it must not happen. However, something that I did not occur to ask my student was why he reacted the way he did. I have no idea why he made that outburst in the first place. I may have altered my approach if I had known another student prompted the outburst; perhaps one of my other students got away with something.
However, I leave it up to you, Reader. How could this situation be handled better?