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How to Minimise Disruptive Behaviour in the Classroom

Most teachers experience similar difficulties in the classroom during their career; their students are too noisy, too disobedient and too uncontrollable. They constantly leave their seats and talk to each other, disrupting the continuity of the class. While in the past students’ disruptive behaviour was punished by sending them to stand in the “naughty” corner or by beating them with a yardstick, development of educational psychology has yielded classroom management strategies that are more efficient, ethical and fun. One such technique is the Good Behaviour Game which has been scientifically proven to work for preschool-age children all the way through the 12 grade students. It has been considered as one of the most powerful prevention strategies that teachers can use.

In the Game, students are divided into two or three classroom teams, and each team gets a point when one of its members engages in a disruptive behaviour. The team that gets fewest points at the end of the day wins a group reward. Implementing the Good Behaviour Game in the classroom is rather simple, and it involves five steps.

Step 1: Choose when you will schedule the Good Behaviour Game

  • Decide at which period of the school day the Game will be played
  • When playing it for the first time, do it during simple activities so that you can watch closely and so that students have fewer distractions
  • Later, choose to play it during blocks of time devoted to math, reading and content instruction, or while students are completing in-class assignments 

Step 2: Clearly define disruptive behaviours

Teachers often choose to reduce these three behaviours:

Leaving one’s seat without the permission from the teacher (with exception from requested toilet breaks):

  • Take a pass to the bathroom
  • Approach teacher’s desk for additional help

Talking out loud without the permission from the teacher:

  • Including shouts, nonsense noises (e.g., howling, whistling) and whispers
  • Students can get a permission to talk when they raise their hands

Engaging in disruptive behaviour:

  • Disruptive behaviour is anything that the teacher perceives as distracting
  • Examples: knocking on a table, tearing up paper, passing notes, playing with toys
  • These behaviours can also be defined with the help of the students, as research shows that the game is more likely to be adopted and sustained when students participate in setting the “rules”

Step 3: Choose daily rewards for winning the Game

Rewards have to:

  • Be motivating for students, as only motivating rewards will lead to the reduction of disruptive behaviour
  • Contribute to educational goals
  • Not include material rewards (e.g., comic books)

Some examples of rewards:

  • Getting the privilege to wear a “Victory Tag”
  • Putting a star next to their names on a “Winner Chart”
  • Lining up first for lunch
  • Getting 30 minutes of time at the end of the day to work on fun topics

Step 4: Introducing the Game to the class

Once the teacher defines disruptive behaviours and rewards, it is the time to explain the Game to the students. This will involve:

  • Explaining when the Game will be played
  • Dividing the classroom in either 2 or 3 teams
  • Encouraging students to name their groups (to build a sense of team spirit)
  • Explaining that each team will get a point when its member engages in a disruptive behaviour
  • Defining disruptive behaviours
  • Clearly reviewing examples of acceptable and unacceptable behaviours
  • Making sure that students understand the rules

Step 5: Playing the Game

When the game is in effect, some rules apply:

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  • Teacher must continue lecturing
  • Teacher must pay attention to students’ disruptive behaviour
  • Points for each team should be publically recorded, such as by writing them on a large piece of paper that will be put on the classroom’s wall
  • Teacher must ensure that negative behaviours are scored consistently

To put it in a nutshell, the Good Behaviour Game is a tool that successfully manages to bring fun into the classroom, motivate children to behave better and help teachers to have a pleasant experience at work. By reducing children’s disruptive behaviour, it also assists in increasing the quality of learning. It is a perfect solution for all teachers that feel as if they have no control over the classroom.

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