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Lessen the Limelighting


Found in: Handling Disruptions, Self-Control

A Limelighter, or Attention Demander, wants to be in the spotlight. She’s the one who circles you on the playground like an adoring moon, forces her way into conversations, leaps out of her seat to show you her work, or asks a litany of unnecessary questions. Why? Limelighters crave the feeling of success and may feel insecure in developing healthy social relationships. Here are three ideas for meeting these students’ need for attention without squelching their confidence:

  • Put the student in charge of her behavior. Missouri educator Peg Scholl once had a student who “acted like she didn’t know an answer—just to get my attention. If I asked somebody else a question, she’d answer. She’d just blurt out, blurt out, blurt out.” The solution: A card taped to her student’s desk and instructions to mark it every time she talked out. They set a goal (without a reward) and the student met it.
  • Help the student gain confidence. Try giving a Limelighter additional classroom responsibilities, or hold an individual conference, perhaps with your school counselor and parents, to talk through the student’s insecurities.
  • Use random rewards. Many experienced teachers don’t regularly reward students for good behavior—instead, they use a “random rewards” system that can curb class-wide limelighting. You choose to ignore disruptive attention-seeking behavior, while offering positive attention more “randomly,” effectively severing the tie between acting out and receiving attention. “When I do use rewards, they’re random, unexpected, and unannounced, like, ‘Man, everybody got their work done! Let’s play mental tic-tac-toe!’” says teacher and classroom management expert Kate Ortiz.

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