This is a report I wrote for the PIDP 3150 class “Instructional Strategies” at Vancouver Community College.
Classroom Management Case Study –
Out of the case studies provided I picked the one titled “Tommy the talker,” describing a student whose enthusiasm seems to become overbearing and affects the ability for participation by the other students.
A lot of the resources I found were aimed at younger students but I found a few that should work for college students as well.
Suggestions for actions to take
In front of the class
To avoid stifling the students’ engagement in the class, we have to be very careful in handling this publicly. A public reprimand might even affect the other students’ willingness to participate.
- The class rules that are established at the beginning of the course need to state that no student should talk over others. This way violations can be briefly dealt with and hopefully prevented. Tripod’s Seven Cs Framework for effective teaching (Tripod, n.d.) has some very good suggestions for class rules.
- The article (Eberly Center, n.d.) “one student monopolizes the class” has some excellent suggestions that would work for students of all ages. I want to mention two points:
- Clarify Expectations. As mentioned above, clear rules and expectations should be established at the beginning of the course. This can even include a “participation rubic” that would rate students that participate rarely or students that don’t listen to others enough.
- Turn-taking techniques. Give every student a set number of tokens at the beginning of a session to use before they speak, when the chips are used up, the student will not be allowed to speak anymore.
I would hope that this approach does not negatively affect naturally quieter students.
In-person with the student privately
Especially if there is only one student that causes interruptions, it would probably be advantageous to have a private conversation. I like the suggestions Eberly Center (Eberly Center, n.d.) makes.
- Thank the student for the participation but ask them to make room for others to contribute.
- Suggest some questions the student can ask themselves before speaking up. For example:
- What evidence do I have for what I want to contribute?
- What is the single most important point I want to make
I think it would be important to speak to the student again after a while and point out areas where they improved and what they could do better.
If other signs are present, it may be appropriate to ask the student if they have been diagnosed with ADHD and what strategies have helped them in the past and/or guide them to resources the college has that could help.
What not to do
In a way, having a student that is engaged and lively is refreshing. Too often we have to work on motivating students to participate. However, in this case, the over-eager behaviour of Tommy the talker is causing the quieter students to pull back even more. The best attempt to solve the problem would be to speak to the student privately as mentioned above.
Two scenarios should be avoided:
Doing nothing about the situation
Tommy’s behaviour is hindering the other students. If the situation is not handled early and successfully the motivation of the whole class will suffer. Students will either hide behind his participation or will try to avoid being seen as overbearing as he comes across.
Calling out Tommy publicly
Not only would calling out Tommy about his disruptive behaviour in front of the class would not only embarrass him and be detrimental to his learning, but it would also set a negative tone with the rest of the class. Other students may begin feeling that they can’t express themselves because of the risk of being reprimanded publicly.
It is difficult to know all the factors that may motivate the student to talk so much that it turns disruptive. Although the post is written with younger children in mind, The Understood Team (The Understood Team, 2019 / 2021) lists some possible motivators:
- Shy students may get anxious in social situations and over-react
- Problems with social skills in general
- Self-control issues
- The behaviour could point to issues with ADHD
Although ADHD is believed to become less of a factor in adults, the Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada (Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada, n.d.) estimates that 4% of adults live with ADHD worldwide. Without further investigation, we can not assume that ADHD plays a role, but it would be helpful to raise the question in a private conversation with the student.
Helpful strategies and tips
Thank you for providing a range of resources in the course material. I feel like I learned a lot from these publications.
I found the PBIS Framework (Brown, 2019) and the Tripod’s 7C’s Framework (Tripod, n.d.) most useful overall. Creating a supportive environment that is attentive to everyone’s needs is an important approach and classroom management is only part of that. I believe that implementing as many of the strategy elements as possible will reduce the amount of active management needed.
This is echoed in the resource focused on adults (Long, 2017). Parallel to Long pointing out that we have to maintain authority in the classroom, several of the sources I found speak about modelling the respectful behaviour we want to see from our students. I found this very helpful.
Reading about classroom management strategies made me realize the importance of setting the right tone at the beginning of a course. This includes rules to be followed, communicating goals and expectations. Talkative Tommy is only one scenario of many and several cases can be in one class. I realize that to serve every one of my students, I have to manage the class effectively and consistently.
Several of the sources I read point out that we have to model the behaviour we expect from our students. If we want to create an environment that fosters and encourages respect, learning, listening and sharing, we have to model this first so our students have an example to model their behaviour on.
Working on difficulties we have with individuals is better discussed privately with these individuals. Making these “interventions” public would not be productive and could harm the self-esteem of the problem student as well as having a negative effect on others.
Our students are individuals, from different situations, backgrounds, motivations and challenges. Every “problem” student will likely be problematic for a reason. If we are equipped to deal with the problems that the individual students depend on in each case. If at all possible, we should speak to the individual and try to either work out a solution or seek help from a third party.
Brown, C. (2019, March 12). How to use PBIS strategies in the classroom. Retrieved from Classcraft.com: https://www.classcraft.com/blog/pbis-strategies/
Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada. (n.d.). ADHD Facts – Dispelling the Myths. Retrieved from CADDAC.ca: https://caddac.ca/understanding-adhd/in-general/facts-stats-myths/
Eberly Center. (n.d.). one student monopolizes class. Retrieved from Carnegie Mellon University: https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/solveproblem/strat-monopolizes/monopolizes-01.html
Long, S. (2017, January 10). Adult Classroom Management Tips. Retrieved from Teach To Teach : https://www.reachtoteachrecruiting.com/blog/classroom-management-adult-students/
The Understood Team. (2019 / 2021). Why some kids talk nonstop. Retrieved from Understood.org: https://www.understood.org/en/learning-thinking-differences/child-learning-disabilities/hyperactivity-impulsivity/my-child-talks-nonstop-what-can-i-do
Tripod. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://mystuff.bublup.com/ui/landing_page?item_id=001-i-b8eae001-8706-4332-99b1-f6c76f7d90c0
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