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If all else fails….

You’ve provided the necessary information to a class full of young, curious minds. Initially, the idea of compliance is understandable and observed.

And then it all falls apart. One student decides to disrupt and most of the rest of the class supports his disruption.

I’m hungry. I want a cheeseburger. I need my oxygen tank. I want to listen to my book. I still want a cheeseburger. I’m still hungry.

Rather than wear a path in the rug to his location, I opt to ignore his disturbances. Magically, his audience disappears, without which, the noise ends. When I stop satisfying his need for attention (positive or negative, it doesn’t matter), the class tacitly supports me. They leave his vicinity, cast disapproving looks and peace is re-established.

Because I was always the obedient, compliant and cooperative student, I never truly understand the class anarchists. Usually, if they behave inappropriately in my class, they do it elsewhere as well. When they are younger, kindergarten through third, I can modify behavior by converting them into helpers. Older than that, peer pressure is my invisible compliance force that always creates the right outcomes.

Sadly, it’s impossible to publicly recognize the assistants. Doing so would flag them and damage their classroom images. But I always find a way to acknowledge them, with a joke, a hug, a smile or an approving nod.

We never know exactly how well this reinforcement works. The best example is the third grader who didn’t speak a word all day. As they were being dismissed, this was the girl who separated herself to deliver a silent hug to me. When I reciprocated, my guess was that her action wasn’t merely a thank you for the piece of candy. Shalom.

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