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Discipline Checklist: Interrupting

How to Deal with Students Who Interrupt

Although interrupting can be extremely irritating, most successful teachers consider this a relatively mild form of misconduct and deal with it accordingly. Consider the range of strategies suggested.

In most cases, you can deal with interrupting gently, and with humor.

  • Remind students that you expect them to raise hands, wait their turn to speak, and be patient.
  • Defer interrupting questions and comments to a later time, saying, "Wait. Not now. Hang on to that thought."
  •  Move your hand gently to block eye contact with the interrupting student.
  • At the upper grades use humor, saying, "Excuse me, is the middle of my sentence interrupting the beginning of yours?"

Most students don't intend to be rude when they interrupt. You should deal with their behavior by educating them about why it's better to wait their turn.

  • With habitually interrupting students, schedule a private conference and describe interrupting as unfair, distracting, and disrespectful of others' feelings and rights. Make a written, signed contract to improve their behavior.
  • With extremely impulsive children, work out a private hand signal to remind the students of expectations. (Examples: teacher touches top of left ear or ear lobe; holds up two or three fingers; moves hand or finger down as if making a hash mark.) Have them monitor their own progress by recording "talk-outs" (interruptions) or rating themselves on a 10-point scale daily.

These methods should help students who interrupt learn to change their behavior.

Excerpted from Discipline Checklist: Advice from 60 Successful Teachers.


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