As a teacher, you probably have at least one student who requires extra attention, perhaps even more than one. This kind of a classroom situation can present a challenge especially if chaos results from one or more students seeking attention by being disruptive, abusive or destructive.
Understanding what attention seeking indicates may prove helpful to teachers.
Oxfordictionaries.com suggests that attention seeking is “attempting to attract the attention of other people, typically by disruptive or excessively extrovert behavior.”
Consider the following guidelines when confronted with the problem of students who are seeking extra attention.
Safety is of primary importance in every classroom.
Protection of a student seeking attention, others students and teachers, as well as yourself, must take first priority when a student seeking attention appears aggressive, or the situation appears likely to escalate.
Assume immediate control of the situation.
It is vital that you do not panic or allow a disruptive student to assume control of your classroom. Initially, you may attempt to ignore the attention seeker who is acting out. Speaking directly to that student about his or her inappropriate words, behavior or action may prove sufficient. Instruct your other students, as well as anyone else in the classroom to remain calm and quiet. Give them something to work on while you deal with the student seeking extra attention.
Offer to talk to the student seeking attention privately.
One-on-one attention for a student seeking attention even for a few minutes, may help to resolve what might turn into a crisis in the classroom. Perhaps the student is an extrovert and accustomed to receiving a lot of attention from others. Discipline may be indicated, but do not allow the situation to escalate. Taking your student out of the classroom, into a hallway or an office to talk privately, may provide him or her with the extra attention needed at that moment in time.
Find out why your student is seeking individual attention.
Most students do not need individual attention and are content to work quietly on their own. A student who suddenly demands attention, or becomes aggressive or violent, may be going through a personal crisis that needs resolution. As the teacher, you may need assistance to deal with this student. It may be possible to arrange for help from others, including parents or guidance counselors. At times, professional medical advice or social assistance may prove beneficial.
Are timeout, detentions or other forms of disciplinary action appropriate?
Depending upon the age of the student and the seriousness of the attention seeking behavior or repeated patterns of behavior, you will need to determine what action if any, is appropriate under the specific circumstances. Of course, discipline varies with the seriousness of the behavior. Make certain that a student seeking extra attention understands that his or her action or behavior is not appropriate in a classroom setting and that severe disciplinary measures may include expulsion. Remember that students are of all ages and come from a wide variety of cultures and family backgrounds. Their educational systems also vary and thus their understanding of appropriate classroom behavior can differ. Education is a learning process and many behaviors are learned.
Advise parents or guardians of students seeing extra attention.
Speaking to parents or guardians about incidences may prove helpful in terms of additional insight. Modes of attention seeking can vary, but discouraging repeated attention seeking behavior in the class is important. Arrange a time before or after class when a student seeking extra attention and his or her parents or guardians, can speak to you privately. Having a tutor or mentor can help. Specific assignments or class projects may allow students to receive extra attention. Classroom volunteers can often work with individual students who are continually seeking extra attention.
The integrity, ingenuity and creativity you demonstrate as a teacher will motivate all of your students, including those seeking extra attention. Keeping them so busy that they cannot keep you busy is generally a good rule of thumb.