Why Students Misbehave

There are many reasons given for poorly behaved students:

  • The teacher doesn’t enforce discipline
  • The students are spoilt
  • The students are not parented properly
  • Kids are rude nowadays, and haven’t been properly taught manners.

All these reasons are decent explanations for an unruly child or class.  But there is one glaring omission from this list, which doesn’t get nearly the amount of coverage as other reasons – the students are bored!

My experience with unruly behaviour, is that it is more prevalent in a classroom that is taught in a bland style.  I have observed some brilliantly dedicated and hard-working teachers, who spend countless hours planning their lessons using the latest graphic organisers and programs, only to watch their hard work fizzle before their very eyes.  The most thorough preparation can go out the window when it results in a unsipiring lesson.

So much of today’s educational resources concentrates on breaking skills down, organising thoughts and following scientific trends.  What they fail to do is assist teachers in delivering fun, enjoyable lessons.

The latest trend in Australian education is direct instruction.  Direct instruction involves reading from a script.  In Australia this is how many schools teach their maths and spelling.  The class teacher is presented with a manual and asked to read from a script (the script even tells you when to pint at the board and when to pause!).  The students job is to listen, repeat after the teacher, and answer questions in their workbooks.  No hands are answered, no discussion takes place.  It’s just the teacher talking and the students responding.

The strengths of this style of teaching are worth noting.  The program is comprehensive, it fixes gaps in student learning, it helps improve the student’s listening skills, it makes for a quiet classroom and cuts planning time.  But among the weaknesses for such a program is the fact that it is so boring, firstly for the teacher, and also for the student.

Boring classes often leads to disruptive behaviour.

Have you ever watched the behaviour of teachers during a boring PD or staff room meeting?  And that’s adults!  We can control our behaviour far better than our students.  It’s just that when you are bored, it’s not so easy to maintain focus and avoid distraction.

In my own teaching, I find that my most difficult classes come as a result of an inability to properly engage my students.  Because I am not a strict or authoritative teacher, I rely very much on the strength of my lessons to maintain decorum in the classroom.

Among the many questions we teachers must ask ourselves when we reflect on behavior management in our classrooms is, what are my lessons like?  Could they be more relevant to the interests and life experiences of my students?



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4 Responses to “Why Students Misbehave”

  1. l0ve0utl0ud Says:

    I completely agree with you. My best teachers were those who were able to engage and interest their students, those who made us participate actively in what we were learning, rather than mechanically repeating what they said. My best teachers were the ones who had a passion for what they were teaching and let that passion come through in every lesson.

  2. novelideasandchildren Says:

    This is the biggest thing I try and drive home as a supervisor to my staff in afterschool and summer camp programs: The kids are not misbehavings, they are bored. I will try and keep this in mind as a teacher! Thank you for your contributions!!! And, when I look back some of my neatest teachers, even in HS had the most engaging lessons and had a passion for the job!

  3. novelideasandchildren Says:

    Oh, I also like that you point out what we are like as adults sitting still. I try and point that out to people all the time. LOL. We don’t do well for long periods of time sitting and listening, why would children?

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