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When a student is disruptive to the point where the lesson can’t continue, it’s usually accepted that they should be removed from the classroom. We know that to be removed from the classroom often means being removed from the teaching and learning. This absence widens the gap, which can impact engagement and behaviour in future lessons and so the cycle continues. It’s the “I want them in, but what about the others?” battle that leaves us conflicted.
Too often, I have collected an ‘on-called’ student from a lesson and showed them to a seat outside my room where they stare blankly at a task that they have little understanding of and even less inclination to attempt. Their requests for help with the work are often met with the response that I am already very busy and that they chose to withdraw themselves from the support they are now asking for when they ignored their teachers’ reminders to correct their behaviour.
The feeling of guilt I experience after this is what tends to prompt my next line of questioning, which has been described by students as one of my ‘lectures’.
“Why have you ended up sitting outside of my room on your own, when everyone else is in the classroom learning?”
“How are you going to catch up on all of the important learning you’ve missed today?”
“Are those students currently inside the classroom more deserving of an education than you?”
Sometimes I’m met with shrugs, sometimes promises for future change and sometimes silence.
During this period of lockdown and online school, I noticed that I was hearing a number of anecdotal stories about students that are typically on the ‘on call’ list, engaging more with online lessons than they did in the physical classroom. As I continued to hear this, I asked teachers in Years 6,7, 8 and 10 to purposefully observe the behaviour of some of these students and provide feedback. A few weeks in, this is what we noticed:
It’s difficult to know for certain what the causes are although here are some of the suggestions from teachers and support staff :
It would be useful to receive feedback from parents and the students themselves to offer further insight into what could be described as transformational.
Is it possible that in those times when students need to be removed from the classroom for disruption, they can remain connected to the teaching and learning through virtual access? Imagine a situation where instead of them staring blankly at a task that had not yet been explained or going back over something they know and can complete without fuss, they are able to be a part of the lesson remotely, without some of the distractions that act as barriers.
Is it possible that students on Fixed Term Exclusion can receive these lessons? Can Team around the Child and reintegration meetings be more accessible to parents and more timely using virtual meetings? Parents could even join a meeting during their lunch break, rather than taking the day off work, sometimes unpaid, which creates other difficulties and tensions.
I don’t know all the answers, but I do know that disruptive classroom behaviour results in a lot of lost learning time and these findings from lockdown have made me more confident that we can now do something more about it.
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