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Classroom Management
by Andrew E. Schwartz

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Disruptive behavior, whether withdrawal, diversion, or attack, directly assaults the presentor’s
desire for admiration, control, and effectiveness. Disruption triggers fears based on these desires.

Presentors and trainees alike are familiar with disruptive learners, those students who cause
problems in a class. Most of us sat next to the boy in fifth grade who was always interrupting the class or contesting every point the teacher made. And most of us sat near the woman in college who thought she was smarter than the professor and tried to prove it every class.

Presentors generally don’t have problems with disruptive learners because trainees are usually cooperative and courteous. Although they may be a bit reserved at first, they want to gain something from their classroom experience, and for the most part they eagerly learn what they can in your class. Trainees can, however, turn quickly against the presentor if they feel they’re not being treated as adults and as competent individuals. The root of the disruptive behavior, in these cases, is often the tone of the training program or the demeanor of the instructor.

It's also possible that an individual student or group of students will demonstrate some form of disruptive behavior in the classroom which is not directly stimulated by either the presentor or the program. For those students, the classroom and presentor may represent a safe place and target to discharge repressed anger and frustrations that stem from another source.

Whether they’re caused by instructors or individuals, the disruptive behaviors displayed in the classroom fall into three rough categories: withdrawal, diversion, or attack.


Andrew E. Schwartz, CEO, A.E. Schwartz & Associates of Boston, MA a comprehensive management training and professional development organization offering over 40 skills specific programs and practical solutions to today's business challenges.

Copyright, AE Schwartz & Associates. All rights reserved.
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