New classroom management issues arise when students who use computers in the classroom try to meet basic emotional needs through inappropriate behaviour.
Filed Under "At-risk" students, Behaviour Management, Blogging in and out of the Classroom, Computers In The Classroom, Dealing With Stress, Engaging Assignments and Activities for Students, motivating students, positive climate, underachieving students, Web 2.0 tools and technologies
I think I’ve finally figured out why some of my students in my grade nine learning strategies class continually insist on sneaking to other sites like YouTube when they’re supposed to be doing their assignments using sites like Prezi, VoiceThread, Animoto, Voki, Wordle, or Bit Strips. Not only are these students off task when they go to other sites instead of the one they’re supposed to be on, they crank up the volume so loud other students hear the sound and crowd around the monitor to see what’s so funny and soon no one is on task. I’ve tried blocking sites to keep students on task, but they just find other sites to go to. It’s been driving me crazy. I’ve been wondering why these students choose to be off task and disrupt the class day after day despite our little talks in the hall. I can’t really ban them from computers because I so “cleverly” integrated computers into the course so they need to be online to complete their assignments. I felt really defeated because I want to use computers and online applications in my classroom but using them was causing me such grief. I was beginning to wonder if it was counter productive to have my students use computers and online technology in the classroom. Then suddenly, it dawned on me. Some of my students are behaving the way they are while using computers because they are trying to try to meet their emotional needs in mistaken ways.
Ages ago, I learned about Glasser’s Behaviour Choice theory. The idea is that students act certain ways to try to meet certain basic needs. Sometimes these students try to meet their needs by inappropriate behaviour. These needs are are
- Survival- the need for for, shelter, clothing
- Power- the need to feel important
- Love/Belonging- the need to feel accepted and loved by others
- Freedom- the need to choose what we want to do with our lives
- Fun- the need to find enjoyment in life by learning and playing
For example, a child might try to meet his need to feel important by getting undue attention. When my students are off task and go to other sites online and turn up the volume so that everyone crowds around them, they’re getting undue attention from other students and from me. They might be thinking they’re only important when they keeping me busy and keep getting the attention of other students. That scenario seems to fit a couple of kids in my class.
Students could try to meet their need for power by going off task repeatedly and promising me when I try to redirect them that they will stop going off task and stay focussed but don’t, and I have to continually refocus them. They may think that they only belongs if they can be boss and prove I can’t make them do anything. I see that explaining some of the behaviour I see in my class.
Some of my students have profound learning disabilities that makes school difficult for them, and they don’t do as well as some of the other students. They often feel stupid even though they have average or above intelligence. Since they have difficulty learning or demonstrating their learning, learning isn’t much fun and they meet their need for fun by amusing themselves by going to other sites like YouTube which they find entertaining. When I ask my students why they go to other sites, they tell me the other sites are fun. I can see why they think that that because these fun alternative sites don’t expect anything from them like the sites I assign that support the curriculum. For at least one student, learning how to take tests or write a strong paragraph can’t compete with the fun of listening to various body sounds (farting sounds) on www.soundboard.com. No, I’m not kidding. A student, a grade 9 student, went to that site and played back farting sounds to amuse himself while while other kids worked quietly on task- quietly, that is, until they heard the farting sounds.
Students could meet their need to chose what they want to do with their lives by refusing to do the assignments in class because they don’t want to be in a special education class. They want the freedom to choose what to do, and they don’t have it. They don’t want to be in my class so they choose not to do the work. I’ve heard students tell their friends my class is another English class even though it isn’t. Students will even ask to keep the door shut because they don’t want their friends to see them in the learning strategies class because it’s a special education class.
When I think about some of the behaviour goíng on in my class ín light of Glasser’s theory, the behaviour makes sense to me. I now understand why some of my students act the way they do when they are completing assignments online.
Since I use computers in my class, students are not sitting in the usual classroom configurations of rows or tables. They’re sitting at computers facing the outside walls of the classroom. They don’t have the opportunity to interact with me or their classmates in the same way as before I had computers in the classroom, so they have to figure out how to meet their emotional needs in the new context of a classroom with computers. Students are trying to meet their needs in this new context in inappropriate ways and this leads to a less than a positive learning environment. The challenge for me is to help students meet their needs in positive ways using appropriate behaviour in this new context. .
photo thanks to sanjoselibrary