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Stopping Student Interruptions


Found in: handling disruptions; manners & etiquette

I had a student who constantly interrupted my music class during my first year of teaching. This sixth-grade student was the star attraction every time I had this class. I went to other teachers to find out more about him and discovered he came from a single parent home and liked writing letters. He had written to several heads of state. I asked him to be my secretary and provided him with stationery and a special desk in the library. His job for two weeks was to write letters to music companies requesting music catalogs that I needed. After two weeks he returned to class. Another student started to interrupt me. My "secretary" turned and told the other student to sit down and stop interrupting me. I had no further problems in that class.

One of the greatest "rewards" for many students today is one on one time with the teacher or other adult who cares. If you have a student that interrupts, try visiting with him or her alone to explain how the interruptions are causing all the students to miss out on learning time. Offer to give this student a token of some kind at the end of each class where he or she participates appropriately. Be sure to be clear about what that would look like. You may even want to write it down on a card and put it on the student’s desk. After receiving a set number of tokens (5? 10?) this student can earn a private lunch with you. Don't laugh.

I used to have a private lunch bunch on Friday noon at lunchtime. It was by invitation only for students who had accomplished a personal learning goal. It was full every week and was quite an honor to be invited. We had a special tablecloth and candles and used special china and silverware sometimes as if we were going to a restaurant. It cost me nothing and instead of keeping kids in for being "bad," I was expending the same amount of time and energy to celebrate their accomplishments.

If there is some other incentive that would work better, you may want to offer that. However, I always tried to stay away from "trash and trinkets." Kids who are acting out often don't need more "things," they need more attention and guidance in how to get it appropriately.


What are your strategies for stopping student interruptions? Tell us and we'll share with fellow educators in our weekly Works4Me e-newsletter.

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