Acting Out Behaviors

Recently someone asked the following questions on an education forum that I participate in. I thought I would share my answer here.

“I am currently student teaching in a Kindergarten classroom. I have a student who often acts out for my attention, my mentors attention, our teacher assistants attention, and more often than not his peers attention. Often when the student acts out for his peers attention it takes away from the lesson that is being taught and it takes a while to regain everyones focus. The teacher assistant often pulls the student aside to complete a simple task when he starts acting out. However, he often yells across the room to get the students attention as well. How do I prevent these acting out behaviors from taking away from a lesson and the whole classes attention?”

I would start doing a functional behavior analysis and collect data on this behavior. Is it only happening when a new skill is being taught? Does it happen during other activities? Does the student gain attention which could be rewarding the behavior instead of diminishing it?

I would also contact the parents to see if the student has experienced any changes in his routine or life. Is the child acting out at home as well as in school? How do the parents handle his acting-out behaviors? Sometimes parents can give suggestions that might work in the school situation also.

Look for what may be causing the behavior and that might give you a clue on how to handle it. Maybe the student is anxious about learning a new skill. Maybe pairing the student with a buddy could help this anxiety if he knows he can ask a buddy for help.

Is there a behavior system implemented in the class? If not, one should be created for all of the students so that they are rewarded for appropriate behavior as well as consequences for inappropriate behavior. If there is one, is it being implemented consistently? I find that one of the hardest things for new teachers to follow through with because it is very time-consuming at the beginning but the pay off is worth it in the end.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog ( by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).