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Definition of pupil misbehaviour

Also known as disruptive behaviour, problem behaviour or pupil deviance, pupil misbehaviour tends to be defined by teachers in a very personal rather than objective way: "behaviour that proves unacceptable to the teacher" (Fontana, 354).

Pupil Misbehaviour
How you define misbehaviour will affect what kinds of behaviour you will accept in a classroom.
Read the following extract and decide who is disrupting the class.
Mr Darcy and his pupils come in to the classroom for geography class. Most of the class get out their books straight away. Mr Darcy spends a few moments asking questions from the previous lesson, referring from time to time to the book, when he notices that Seán is only just starting to get out his book.
  • "Why aren’t you ready?"
  • "I’ve had a tough day today."
  • "The rule in this class is that you must take out your books straight away."
  • "You don’t know what my morning has been like."
  • "Don’t speak to me like that, Seán. You know that rules are rules."
    (adapted from Levin and Nolan, 1991, 25)
  • Who is disrupting the class - jot down YOUR ideas
  • Then look at OUR COMMENT

Levin and Nolan (1991, 24) give us another definition of misbehaviour. It is behaviour which

  • interferes with the teaching act
  • interferes with the rights of others to learn
  • is psychologically or physically unsafe
  • destroys property

Levin & Nolan’s definition provides the basis for a less personalised, more task-related view of what counts as pupil misbehaviour.

Give your opinion
What standard of behaviour would you expect in your classroom? What "pupil misbehaviour" would be acceptable to you? GIVE YOUR OPINION
What others think
When you've given your opinion, take a look at WHAT OTHERS THINK
So your classroom management style, your personality - and possibly the culture of the school - will help to determine for you what you consider to be misbehaviour by pupils.

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