Jason was driving the young teacher crazy.  He seemed to bounce off the walls, and wouldn’t sit still.  And when his teacher confronted him about his behavior, the situation  only got worse. The kid who was hyperactive would eventually become disrespectful as a result of what he perceived to be harassment from the teacher. The constant tension between the teacher and this one student was undermining the climate of the entire class.

The teacher recognized that this status quo was not working, and to his credit, he was determined to figure out a workable solution. He recognized this student had an abundance of energy, and when we were talking about the situation in my office, I actually remember him telling me, “He just can’t sit still.  I don’t think he wants to be in trouble; he just has too much energy to stay in his desk.” We talked about potential solutions, and we agreed on the importance of maintaining a positive relationship with the student.

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After several days of not hearing about any problems in that room, I asked the teacher how it was going. He said it was going great. He explained: “I spoke to him out in the hall and told him he could do all his work standing up as long as he wasn’t a distraction.” And then he shared some wisdom that I’ll never forget: “I’ve learned that I don’t have to prove a point with a kid as long as we are correcting the problem.”

Challenging student behavior is present in virtually every school and classroom. I suspect many teachers would say that issues of classroom management represent the greatest threat to their instructional effectiveness.  They offer hope to teachers who love kids but deal with the realities of students who are not always perfectly behaved.

This guest blog was written by Danny Steele, EdD. Danny is an award-winning principal and current Assistant Professor of Instructional Leadership at the University of Montevallo. He is a co-author of Essential Truths for Principals and Essential Truths for Teachers.