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Dear Tom High intelligent- highly disruptive

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by alwayslearning, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. alwayslearning

    alwayslearning New commenter

    Dear Tom
    Please help! I am a primary school teacher and am almost at the end of my tether with a child. She is year 1 and has an IQ of 170, making her very intelligent. At the start of the autumn term she was a little 'wild', hiding under tables, wanting to die, spitting at children, showing her pants to children, running around the classroom etc. But, with a home school log, weekly parental meetings and offering rewards if she listened, worked with her peers and completed her work, things calmed down.
    However since Christmas she is a nightmare! The home school log has little or no effect, she isn't motivated by rewards anymore and really seems to know how to press my buttons. When I ask her do do something, she does the opposite and looks at me as she does it. Her work is only completed if there is a threat of delaying her snack or lunch and she smerks when she is making the wrong choices. I know this sounds awful, but she isn't popular in class and I can understand why because she annoys people.

    If I put on a professional head I know I need to reward her, nurture her social skills etc, but I am bloody frustraed with the fact that she knows exactly what she is doing and seems to thrive on me getting cross. Her mother is less supportive and the girl has her wrapped around her finger.HELP!
  2. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Help is here. I think I can see the way out, and what's going wrong here:
    This child is being spoiled. It's not fashionable to say so, but it needs to be faced up to and tackled, because the way this child is going she's learning lessons you really don't want her to get: she's learning that if she behaves awfully then nothing very substantial will happen, except diminishing levels of reward; and she's learning that adults permit themselves to be treated with scorn; and she's learning that the feelings of others are unimportant to the exercise of her will and her whims.
    Step in NOW. You might not enjoy doing it, but she needs to understand that there are boundaries to her behaviour, and that those boundaries are patrolled by responsible adults who will insist upon consequences if she chooses not to abide by them. Children , like people are simple and complex. Simple because there is a universal leveller- we avoid things we dislike. So attach sanctions to her misbehaviours that are actually meaningful; detentions, missed breaks, deferred lunches, stern tellings-off, etc.
    We don't do this because we enjoy telling kids off- we do it because the children need to learn how to interact socially with children and adults; they need to learn self-restraint, and the need to learn that everyone is important. If she doesn't learn these social skill,s she'll end up the smartest girl in the PRU when she gets older. There are plenty of smart kids in borstals, or stacking shelves, because they couldn't restrain their selfishness, or because they couldn't get on or along with others. Teach her the most valuable lessons of all.
    Her intelligence, while a factor, is largely unimportant to this process; don't be confused by it, as if she has some elite, exceptional need that excuses her from being a ****. Her intelligence might necessitate more challenging, differentiated work, but don;t differentiate on your behaviour management. Teach her rules, and manners, and character, and her education will take off. Don't teach her these things, and she'll drown. If the home environment is weak, then it's even more vital you provide a nurturing environment for this girl that actually nurtures, rather than strangles, in the name of good intentions.
    Good luck
    Read more from Tom on his blog, or on his Twitter here.
  3. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    Excellent advice as ever Tom. I would add that in this instance her high IQ is an advantage to you. She will more quickly understand how to the play the game.
    I tend to do the following:
    <ol>[*]I explain what standards of behaviour I expect.[*]I explain what behaviours irritate me. This includes serious incidents of poor behaviour but also repeatedly not meeting the standard I expect.[*]I explain to the pupils that I'm a fairly tolerant, happy go lucky sort of teacher until someone irritates me.[*]I explain to pupils that if they irritate me I will go out of my way to inconvenience them. That I am a sufficiently sad person that I will take time out of my busy life to phone home, track them down and keep them behind, make sure they do not get to do things they like (school trips, playing for school sports teams etc) and generally make their lives more difficult than they otherwise would be. [*]I explain that I do this because I want them to succeed. More, that I demand they succeed to the best of their abilities and that I will not tolerate anything less than their best.[*]I then explain what behaviour I reward and what the rewards are likely to be.[*]I then stick as rigidly as I can to what I have said I am going to do.</ol>That might need some modification for primary perhaps.


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