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Discipline Checklist: Clowning

Found in: Classroom Management

Clowning is an inappropriate attention-getting device that, unfortunately, is successful much of the time for the attention-seeking student. To deal with such behavior, consider which of the following you would or wouldn't do:

Avoid public reprimands of student clowning; instead, try one of these responses:

  • Move toward a clowning student without making eye contact.
  • Give a private warning of impending isolation from the group within the classroom.
  • Isolate the clowning student to the rear of the classroom for a short time (1-5 minutes) after only one warning.

For repeated incidents of clowning, schedule a private conference with the student during recess or lunch.

Present rationales for doing the clowning outside of the classroom, and discuss alternative ways of getting attention (class plays, show-and-tell time, or a few minutes of stand-up comedy at the end of the day).

Make a written, signed contract for improving behavior.

Include incentives and the possibility of being excluded from fun activities if the clowning continues.

Enlist class support in ignoring a student's inappropriate bid for attention.

Say, "Please don't pay attention to his/her nonsense. We're in school and we have quite a bit to do. Don't let _____________ steal your time."

Excerpted from Discipline Checklist: Advice from 60 Successful Teachers, available from the NEA Professional Library.

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