4 Challenging Student Behaviors (4/4): SHOW-OFFS



The show-offs are just as much in need of help as shy children, but they rarely elicit the
same kind of sympathetic attention. Their problem is also one of uneasiness, and in
trying to prove their importance, they do all the wrong things. Their behavior will range
from monopolizing the class discussion to interfering with the work of the other children
(being bossy, pushing, interrupting). They may deliberately use a wrong word for the
sake of a laugh. They are conscious of the effect they are having and so have difficulty
concentrating on what they are doing. They may exaggerate instructions or tasks, such
that if you ask them to take a step back, they take five. They often like to play teacher,
demanding high expectations of their peers without reciprocation and monitoring and/
or calling out other students on their behavior. They may cry or pout if they don’t get
their way and purposely play do an activity the wrong way in response. They may over-participate in activities, wanting to do or say more than the rest of the class, without
respect to fairness. They may do dance moves and cartwheels during instructions and
love to be in the limelight. They say things like “look at me!” and can be tattle-tales,
aggressive and loud. Sometimes these students overcompensate for low self-esteem;
sometimes they are just oblivious to the needs of others.
Sometimes the teacher may be forced to ask the disruptive child to go back to her seat.
Not punishment, but the consequences of unacceptable behavior will teach a student
that creative work demands consideration and teamwork.
● Give attention only to desired behaviors; more attention when they are quiet,
focused and respectful
● Use the student as an example to explain a game/activity
● Give them a focused role or task outside the activity to keep them busy or help
them feel important without allowing them to distract others
● Give them adequate time to warm-up, be loud, and expend energy
● Make leadership opportunities a reward for respectful behavior
● Remind them of the specifics of respectful behavior (teach and practice the
concept of “step up, step back”) and use positive reinforcement
● Use teamwork activities/games to prompt “we” discussions about sharing time
and space
● Teach comedy and improv, as well as audience etiquette, discuss the different
behaviors required in both, and insist on the latter to earn participation in the
● Establish times to take turns doing things and insist on them waiting their turn
● Remind them of appropriate behavior and speech in the classroom
● Give them opportunities to teach the class a skill or talent and compliment them
when they are helpful and courteous leaders

4 Challenging Student Behaviors (3/4): DISTRACTED



Every teacher has experienced the easily distracted player—the one with imagination,
interest, and enthusiasm whose concentration is broken at any unexpected sight or
sound. Often but not always this is a hyperactive child. The student who’s constantly on
the move, bouncing from one task to another and rarely completing any. Even sitting in
their seat, they are anything but still. They are “movers and shakers” in the truest sense
of the words. There is no easy solution, but providing short activities may help keep the
easily distractible student involved. The challenge in working with hyperactive children
is to balance their needs with the needs of your other students. You want to create an
optimal learning environment for the hyperactive student, mindful of the issues of peer
rejection and low self-esteem. At the same time, you want to minimize the disruption
to your other students. That requires considerable structure, support, and consistency.
It also demands patience and restraint in the face of often difficult and frustrating
Teachers often find that their distracted/ hyperactive students display a lack of
awareness of what everyone is/ should be doing, they cannot sit still, and have difficulty
resisting the temptation to touch surrounding objects in the classroom environment or
physically going to other parts of the classroom. They are impatient and frequently want
to be called on right away to participate. Some students may request frequent bathroom
or water breaks for the purpose of leaving the class. They may speak over the teacher
or repeat things that the teacher or other students say. They avoid certain tasks and find
anything to play with (shoelaces, carpet, etc). They have a hard time taking turns, and
will frequently distract other students from completing their own tasks.
● Develop and be consistent with focus devices
● Reinforce classroom routines and vocabulary
● Be consistent with consequences and rewards
● Be Specific with instructions and don’t give too many at once
● Create a personal reward system like a sticker book for them to HOLD and keep
during the day and let them put the stickers in it at the end of the day
● Have a lot of variety of activities in your lesson plan● Keep the activity moving and be aware of the pace of your lesson
● Create more hands on activities
● Pair them with more focused students for partner work
● Give the student a task or a specific goal at the beginning of the class
● Allow student to stand at the back of the classroom instead of forcing them to
stand with the other students
● Play focus oriented games like the Invisible Ball and integrate these techniques
throughout your lesson plans
● Give a “preview” talk about upcoming activities to prep the student for transitions
● Play Do This Do That
● Give them a specific task in the chill out corner
● Have a backup game or activity for the student if they need to take a break
● Have an object for the student to hold or play with during an activity so that they
can get their energy out
● Implement drama based strategies like artifacts
● Do some research on techniques for children with learning disabilities
● Have spots or pieces of tape for your younger students to sit on
● Teacher proximity
● Give students specific opportunities to really use their body and voice at high
capacity (such as during warm up or outside time) so that students have an outlet
● Use dynamic mediums/ activities that switch frequently
● Adjust your own attitude of what really is a problem
● Give the student a role that allows them to have responsibility. A teachers aide or
assistant, that way you create an alliance with the student

4 Challenging Student Behaviors (2/4): NEGATIVE



Negative or insensitive players are similar to show-offs in that they are usually rejected
by others and do not understand why. They differ in that their clowning brings no
laughter, and they have great difficulty in making friends. They tend to reject the ideas
of others and criticize others’ efforts, often harshly. Sometimes these behaviors are
linked with low self-esteem and/or abuse at home.
The negative/insensitive child says things like “I’m bad at drawing”, “this is stupid and
boring”, “everybody hates me”, and “I don’t care”. They may frequently show apathy
toward activities, refuse to participate, and put down themselves and others. They roll
their eyes, give dirty looks, and frequently complain. They may crowd others’ space,
be indifferent or unaware of how they hurt others, argue for the sake of arguing, and
be very dramatic about any challenges they face. They can noticeably affect both the energy and engagement of a group.
Playing a variety of roles may cause them to gain insights and develop an awareness of
the feelings of others. Patient attention to their problem in human relations may, in time,
help them to listen and learn to accept suggestions from their peers. Theirs is a difficult
problem, but once they have begun to feel some small acceptance, these children
will prefer belonging to going it alone. Again, we are not talking about an extreme
personality disorder but about the human being who is experiencing difficulty in working
cooperatively with others. Above all, let them know you care about them and do not
allow disrespectful behavior and speech in your classroom.
● Positive Check-Ins: “Something you are grateful for”, etc.
● Be consistent with classroom contract and creating an environment of respect
● Be clear about not tolerating put-downs or disrespectful speech/actions
● Know your students: what they are comfortable with/good at, and ask them to
lead related activities
● Teach conflict resolution skills. Use improv or puppets!
● Take time to ask questions and listen
● Teach communication skills, particularly how to rephrase speech neutrally/
● Consistency with expectations about participation (all or nothing, refusing
selecting participation)
● Teach the golden rule; reiterate it and ask for examples
● Believe in them! Stay positive despite their negativity.
● Assign them a task that allows them to participate in a different way
● Ask them what they want/need and find ways to accommodate them if it adds to
their motivation and doesn’t negatively affect the group
● Give them opportunities to reflect, particularly in ways that may be personally
cathartic and neutral to the group morale
● Empathize with them in that they are probably most critical of themselves and
may be subject to a lot of negativity elsewhere in their life
● Find stories to read with characters that are also having difficulty with their
perspective or moods
● Teach and discuss how words can hurt others, even their teachers
● Don’t patronize them. Treat them as adults; be frank and honest
● Find ways to help them experience what it it’s like in another’s shoes; explore
different perspectives and explore empathy
● Refuse to participate in arguments with them
● Give them choices and opportunities to do activities in ways they enjoy● Keep a positive and negative tally sheet for the class or individual student

4 Challenging Student Behaviors (1/4): TIMID



Timid children present a common problem to the teacher of creative drama. Such
children are usually quiet in a class, preferring to sit in the back of the room and let
others do the talking. Their fear of making a mistake, or even of being noticed, causes
them to withdraw, though underneath their shyness they are eager to express their
ideas and take part. They are usually not happy children, for their feeling of inadequacy
inhibits both expression and communication.
The little girl who never volunteers will need special encouragement to try on a new
role or task, no matter how simple. The teacher who gives her this opportunity to show
her peers what she can do may be taking the first step in helping her build a better selfimage. The teacher will be wise to praise her warmly for whatever contribution she
makes. Remember that for the little girl, the very act of getting up in front of the class is
a big achievement.
The isolate or loner is often a child who cannot relate to the group. He or she may work
hard and have good ideas and the ability to present them effectively, but nevertheless
this child is always in isolation. It must be said that isolation is not necessarily a
symptom of some problem. Indeed, it may be indicative of superior talent and high
motivation. Independence is a desired goal, whereas an inability to relate to others is a
The timid/isolated child may be very self-critical and full of hesitation. They may speak
in a quiet voice or whisper, not want to participate in activities, cover their face during
sharing or want to hide. They may raise their hand to give an answer but then back
down because of anxiety. They may be fearful of many things and avoid eye contact.
They might not play with others outside and prefer individual activities. They may like to
go to the restroom or get “sick” a lot as a way of avoiding others and being alone. They
may want to sit close to the teacher and distract you by wanting to whisper questions or
answers in your ear. Sometimes they are easily overstimulated or upset by noise and
personal space infringements (particularly among students in the Autism spectrum)..
Sometimes they may be an ESL student who is having difficulty communicating with or
understanding the group.
Suggestions:● Use movement and dance to draw a group together naturally; they discover the
meaning of interdependence as well as individual effort
● Give them individual attention
● Give tasks that are low risk and scaffold to higher risks
● Provide them with lots of encouragement
● Discover, highlight and utilize their strengths and contributions
● Use positive reinforcement strategies
● Give them opportunities to participate in a different way (drawing instead of
speaking an answer, giving secret answers, etc.)
● Offer to assist them in a task or simultaneously perform an action with them
● Use a variety of groupings, as they may work better in smaller groups
● Do group activities that allow for a lot of creative expression, but within a team
or “safe environment”
● Compliment them privately as public praise can be embarrassing for some
● Inquire with a program coordinator or teacher about what engages them and/or
about their history at the school
● Find ways to use Spanish more in the classroom to be inclusive of ESL students
● Find moments to have one-on-one conversations with them
● Let them know it is okay for their work/ideas to be incomplete; insist on time
● Encourage participation; depending on the child you might insist on it
● Refrain from judgemental language about their personality, particularly in front of
others (“Oh, you are shy?”, etc.)
● Find activities that make them feel safe or require the entire group to succeed