Ever have a student that derails your lesson with humor? How about eye rolls? A natural response might be to laugh and play along with the idea that it builds rapport between teacher and students or that we sympathize because kids need a break. In fact, this low-level behavior challenge not only steals the show, it can distract fellow students away from learning and often contributes to a class culture where respect for others is diminished.
Sometimes disruptions come with a more negative tone and with a purpose of delaying instruction. Comments like “Mr. Smith never made us do that,” “This is boring,” or “I hate this class” are intentional button pushers. When disruptions come, it’s important to remember that conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.
Keeping our cool isn’t always easy in-the-moment. It’s helpful to remember a few strategies that will keep it professional and maintain credibility. Here’s one sure-fire strategy to defuse the disrupter and promote an attitude of respect. Try it!
Step 1 – Diffusers
Choose a few short comments. Make them up or choose from the list below.
Thanks for your observation
Wait it gets better
Hold that thought
In the mean time
We can talk at recess
Love your thought process
Good to know
Thanks for sharing
I’ll keep that in mind
Step 2 – A Timely Response
Diffusers provide a powerful way to deter or derail student challenges. A timely response signals the student that they were heard. A smart response maintains dignity for both parties of the interaction. They should be delivered matter-of-factly, without hesitation as follows.
“Mr. Smith never made us do that.” —-> “I’m sorry.”
“This is boring” —-> “Duly noted”
“I hate this class.” —-> “Perhaps”
Step 3 – Keep Teaching
There is no need to take any instructional time to engage the student further. You may want to address it later, but don’t waste everyone’s time focusing on distractions.
On average teachers lose between five and nine hours of instructional time each week to low-level behaviors. Effective use of diffusers can help us focus on the important things, like learning, and recapture precious time.