The Class Clown 

 Warning this page may contain content that will make you cringe, squirm or want to yell obscenties.......enter at own risk!

There is usually one in every class....the class clown! The student who likes to try and put you off by dragging other students into their charades. The student who likes to push the boundries and will often be the one that is the most disruptive. The student who will do just about anything to get a laugh. The student who........well you get the idea.

Image sourced from - credit Thomas Reis

So what do you do with this student?

Dr Kenneth Shore (2011) suggests the following:-

Have a one-on-one talk with the student. In a calm, emotionally neutral manner (without anger or sarcasm) so he feels comfortable talking with you, take the student aside and ask him why he is misbehaving.  Ask him for his cooperation to allow the other students to learn. Help the student understand that his behavior interferes with your teaching.

Develop a non-verbal signal to alert the student when his behavior crosses the line. Try a simple non-verbal signal, which alerts only him to his behaviour (this may need to be discussed with him privately, before putting in place) Some possibilities include pausing while you are speaking, raising your eyebrows, tugging on your ear, or winking. You might need to say his name to get his attention before signaling him, but do not stop class to reprimand him. The idea is to provide a reminder without interrupting the flow of your lesson.

Take away the student's audience. The class clown will continue with his behaviour if he is successful getting others to pay attention to him. Try and persuade the other students not to respond when he is being silly. Find a time when the student is out of the room and talk briefly with your other students, asking for their cooperation in not responding to his behaviour. If students cooperate, make sure you do the same by ignoring his behaviour and continuing with your lesson.

Stand near the student. Standing near a student who is misbehaving while you're teaching, for a minute or two, will often be enough for him to stop the behaviour. After a minute or two move away, whilst continuing with your lesson and repeat if the behaviour starts again. Having the student at the front of the class will assist you in doing this without interrupting your lesson.

Provide the student with positive attention.  Pay attention to the class clown when he is displaying positive behavior or has an academic success. Similarly, you might find ways to highlight his accomplishments to others in the class. In that way, he might feel less compelled to seek attention in inappropriate ways.

Develop a behavior modification system for the student. Set in place an individual reward system for him if he can make it through parts of the day without interrupting the class. This may mean extra numbers (see incentives in this website) or it may mean an individual award. This may start off in small blocks and increase over time. The other students need not know that this is happening, which will also lessen the attention seeking behaviour.

Identify when the student is most likely to act up. Make a note of when the incidents occur. What triggers them? Are there certain students or times when they occur more frequently? What is he usually doing at the time?  Recognising when he is making noise might lead you to understand why he is doing it. He might be acting up because he finds the work boring or tedious or difficult, because he is confused about what to do, or because he has difficulty focusing for a sustained period of time. Identifying the reason for his behavior might suggest a need to adjust the level of the work, the length of the activity, or the way you present the lesson.

Consider a classroom consequence. If the problem persists, use the 3 strikes method (see this website). 

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