Dealing with disturbances - ILC International House Brno

Dave Cleary
Dealing with disturbances
1. What behavior is unacceptable or creates difficulties in the classroom?
Group work requires co-operation. Teachers therefore expect certain rules to be obeyed, even
if the rules are unwritten or unspoken. Such rules include:
regular attendance
coming on time
performing the set tasks
paying attention
being polite
having the required materials or equipment
being respectful of others
dressing appropriately
doing homework
not asking unrelated questions
2. What factors might contribute to disturbances?
fear of failure
unrealistic goals
feeling tired
not understanding the purpose of tasks
3. How do you feel when these behavior ‘rules’ are broken?
what makes you angry
what amuses you
what seems senseless
what can you deal with easily
what embarrasses you
what can you understand
4. Think about a disturbance you had to deal with recently, i.e. a problem not directly
related to language or regular teaching. Make notes in the space below to describe the
background to the situation. Give any and all information that feels relevant
level, number of students, age, gender, time of day, normal energy levels, class objectives, etc.
Now describe the disturbance.
What activity was the class doing when it happened?
Where were you? And what were you doing?
What was the first thing you did?
How did other people in the class react?
What did you, or anyone else, do next?
Who was involved in dealing with the disruption? Why?
How did the class return to ‘normal’?
ILC International House Brno, jazyková škola, Sukova 2, Brno; T: 542 210 216, 736 726 302; E: [email protected];
Dave Cleary
In the classroom, in real time, teachers have to make decisions very quickly, often without
having enough information to work from. In the same way it is useful to reflect on lessons and
activities after teaching, there is a lot to be gained by evaluating what happened and why it
happened after a disturbance – when we do have time to think about what options were
available and what we feel the ‘best’ course of action was.
It can also be useful to do this with one or more colleagues, as knowing what other teachers
have done or might do in a similar situation can help you make a better on-the-spot decision in
the future. The table below gives a framework* for reflecting on reactions to classroom
Give a brief outline of the class – level, class objectives etc. – and then
describe what the students were doing, what you were doing when the
disturbance happened
What happened? Who or what created the disruption? Can you identify
the root cause or the immediate trigger?
What are some of the possible responses? Who do these responses
involve? Who should they involve?
What did you do?
What did anybody else do?
How could the problem have been handled differently? What do you
think is the best response?
Sometimes it can be useful to further explore what happened with the student and / or the
whole class, particularly for repeated behavior.
ask the student(s) to explain their point of view
check if they understands why you are concerned
try to share your understanding of the problem and encourage them to do the same
generate possible solutions with the student and / or the whole class
Consider all the possible solutions. Agree a path ahead and build in points along the way in
which you will review progress with the student.
It is normal to feel quite strong emotions after a disturbance – anger, guilt, shame – but
remember your students might well be feeling the same way. It is important to see it as an
opportunity to learn and grow as a teacher through these experiences.
*This framework was inspired by 2 management tools / acronyms.
SPRE – which is used by managers to predict and deal with issues
GROW – Goal, Reality, Options, Way forward: a tool used for mentoring and coaching to create a structure to set
targets and plot progress
ILC International House Brno, jazyková škola, Sukova 2, Brno; T: 542 210 216, 736 726 302; E: [email protected];