Disruptive Behavior Does Not Always Equal Trouble Makers

From middle school to highschool, I was one of those students that could read an unrelated book in class without repercussions for my actions. Looking back,  my behavior was disrespectful. I got away with it, because I was able to answer the teachers question off the top of my head. Some showed their shock and frustration as plain as day. They attempted to use me as an example, but their plan backfired. Others ignored my disregard for their lesson plan. What if, I told you that I only did this in subjects that came easy to me.

School Days

Even as a child, I preferred to use my time productively. If I wasn’t getting anything from your lesson, I refused to watch paint dry. Looking back, my skills stopped me from getting detention or in school suspension for my behavior. If I pulled this stunt in classes I struggled in, I could have faced more backlash for pretty much ignoring the lesson.

Standardized test and grades showed I had strong reading comprehension and writing skills. If I understood the material, I could recall it and communicate my understanding. I do not have photographic memory. It’s more like text is floating around in my mind. A word or phrase can latch on to the information that I need in the moment. Recite the information and put it back in to the void to flout around aimlessly.

The Academic Truth

I bring this up because a gifted disruptive student is still a disruptive student. However, they aren’t treated like their struggling counter parts. It’s likely a teacher will let it slide, because on paper these students aren’t the ones falling behind. Nor are they required to provide advance course work for those students.

Whereas, it’s easier to remove a student that is acting out to cover the fact that they need help understanding the material. Constant drilling without adjusting approach is only going to exasperate a student frustration. To the point that they’d rather entertain the class than ask for help. As long as the average percentage of students doing well in a class is high, the students bringing the class average down can be written off.  Disruptive behavior can occur because a student’s academic needs aren’t being met. However, their academic standing can impact how the system reacts to their behavior. What can we as parents, educators, and mentors do?

8 Great Smarts

We could put more of an emphasis on understanding over regurgitation [the repetition of information without analysis or comprehension].  The ability to recite information and compartmentalize enough information to get through a quiz or test does not equal comprehension. How do we do that? Take an interest in identifying how a student thinks. 8 Great Smarts: Discover and Nurture Your Child’s Intelligences by Kathy Koch is a good place to start.

When we teach others, we use one to three of the eight smarts that come naturally to us. If we aren’t willing to acknowledge our way is not universal, we won’t reach the other five types of thinkers. Unfortunately, a public school curriculum is not suited for all eight types of thinkers, but it does not mean we can’t help children find a way to succeed in that environment. The book isn’t meant to make everyone straight A students, it’s about keeping a love of learning alive. Contrary to popular belief, we never stop learning, we just stopped getting graded for it.

Are you familiar with Dr. Kathy Koch’s work?

Have you taken the Eight Great Smarts Quiz? There is an assessment for adults and teens.

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