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Being a Reflective Practitioner Can Help With Disruptive Behaviours in Your Classroom


Despite conflicting reports on the state of disruptive behaviour in schools, it continues to be a perennial one for all teachers. The statistic shows that in England over forty per cent (40%) of teachers leave the profession within five years of being qualified and students’ disruptive behaviour of all category and types was one of the most commonly cited reasons for leaving.

For this piece, a disruptive behaviour is any that presents a barrier to other’s learning or inhibits the achievement of the teacher’s purposes in the classroom. This definition is useful in that it helps to make a distinction between the types of behaviours occurring in the classroom and those which may occur in other settings, such as workplaces and correctional facilities, which may include actions such as protests and riots. Having said these, here are some ways that a reflective practitioner may attend to such behaviours in his or her classroom.

Reflection-on-action before action.

Before they occur, use some time to reflect on unwanted behaviours you may confront in your classroom or school. This is integral to being proactive in reducing these common recurring behaviours. Strategies for managing common recurring behaviours such as talking while the teacher talks and distracting other learners attention, refusing to follow directions or displaying aggressive behaviour will emerge when you employ reflection-on-action before action i.e., ‘frame’ the ‘problem’, critically think about the students, context (classroom), personal knowledge and experience of strategies used to reduce disruptive behaviour and the overall strategy used by most teachers in your particular school.

Reflection-in-action.

While you are in the throes of a disruptive behaviour, reflect-in-action. Strategies for managing common recurring behaviours such as those listed above will emerge when you ‘frame’ the ‘problem’, critically think ‘on the spot’ (reflection-in-action) about your students, context (classroom), personal knowledge and experience of strategies used to reduce disruptive behaviour and the school’s overall policy on managing disruptive behaviour. Also, strategies for managing crisis or violent or confrontational behaviours such as a student using tools in a workshop to fight with, or a student arguing with you, threats to other learners, listening to music on a headphone when he/she should be listening to you and challenging your authority will emerge when you ‘frame’ the ‘problem’ critically think ‘on the spot'(reflection-in-action) about the students, context (classroom), personal knowledge and experience of strategies used to reduce such disruptive behaviour and your school’s overall policy on managing disruptive behaviour.

The strategies suggested in this piece are anything but simple, for what is required is careful consideration, together with a process of disciplined intellectual criticism combining research, knowledge of context/classroom and balanced judgment (critical thinking). This implies there is the need for you to ‘make time’ for reflection which may be a difficult undertaking for an already busy teacher like you and those who may be ‘less reflective’. However, with the appropriate support, you could be encouraged to see and appreciate the value of engaging in these activities.

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