Disruptive Student Behavior

And Its Consequences On Effective

Teaching And Learning At IS 275M


John Mauch







Everyday policies in schools can have devastating effects on the education process.  For instance, consider the ramifications of the fictional scenarios that follow.




     It’s a snowy and windy, cold December morning.  You get out of bed early and look out the window and silently wish to yourself that this would be one of those rare days when school would be closed because of the inclement weather. 


Your mother calls out from down the hallway.


“C’mon baby, wash up and get dressed!  Stop lollygaging!  I’ve got the twins all ready to go and I’m running late for work! Make sure that when you drop them off at school you walk them to the cafeteria so they can get breakfast, and see to it that you do your best at school today.  Don’t forget to be on time to pick ‘em up after school either.  You didn’t lose your house keys again did you?  Now you know my boss has been giving me a hard time lately and I’m counting on you to take care of business.  You know how hard I work and I want you to do your very best at school so that you can get into a good high school and get a good job when you grow up so you don’t have to struggle like your poor mama.”


You know you must have heard this same speech a thousand times, but each time you do, you feel a strong desire deep down inside to do everything you can to make her proud of you. 


So, in spite of the snowy weather, and the buses running late, and the fact that you have two seven year old siblings in tow, you dutifully set out to “take care of business.” 


Before you leave, you kiss your mother goodbye, tell her that you love her and reassuringly tell her that you are going to get a hundred on your math test today.  She smiles at you as the apartment door closes and you sense the power that you have to put her at ease.  You think about next week when you’ll be celebrating your twelfth birthday. 


As usual, you drop the twins off and still manage to get to school on time.  You help the Teacher take attendance and rush it down to the office before first period begins.  You feel highly motivated and just know that today will be a good day.  Your backpack is bulging with books.  You know that you have everything you need in it.  Pens, pencils, notebook, extra loose-leaf paper and even a clear plastic protractor that you’ll need for that math test.  How many hours you have spent studying for this test!  You smile a slyly confident smile and giggle to yourself.


First period begins and the math Teacher hands out the test papers.  Silence falls over the classroom and you eagerly begin the test, confident of victory. 



The classroom door opens abruptly, and three boys enter the classroom noisily.  They are dripping wet, still in their winter coats and hats, and covered in snow from what looks like must have been one heck of a snowball fight.  They laugh out loud as they enter the classroom.  The Teacher angrily confronts them because they are coming late and disturbing her test, but she must let them into class as per school policy.


One of the boys sits next to you.  He has no book-bag.  He turns to you to ask you for some paper and a pencil.  You reach for your book-bag and the Teacher accuses you of cheating on the test.  You try to explain, but the Teacher becomes furious.  Just then the boy yells out to the Teacher to “mind her damn business.”  He tells the Teacher that she is “always looking to get someone in trouble,” and adds, “that’s why nobody likes you!”  He gets out of his seat and begins to walk around the room, telling her he “ain’t gonna take no test” and physically confronts another student who tells him to sit down and be quiet.  He pushes the student out of his seat and a fight begins with both boys thrashing it out on the classroom floor. 


The school safety guard arrives and takes the boys out of the room and instructs them to stand in the hallway.  The Teacher is eager to restore order in the classroom and resume her test, but first, as per school policy, she must fill out a Dean’s referral form describing in detail the nature of the incident that occurred in her classroom.  She must include the exact time, location and names of the students involved, and must also provide a description of what steps she has taken in the past to address the problematic behavior of the students in question.


 While she directs her attention to completing the form, several students in the room begin talking back and forth and soon the whole class turns into a noisy mob.  By the time the Teacher is able to regain her composure and quiet the class, so much time has been wasted that in a display of frustration and despair she postpones the test and assigns a set of problems for you to copy and complete from your textbook.  The Teacher approaches her desk, sits down and for a second rests her head in her hands.  All you can think about is how hard you studied for the test and wonder to yourself, “for what?” 


Later that day, in Art class, you begin to complete a project you have been working on.  You are excited about how close you are to finishing a mosaic made with multi-colored construction paper.  You are sure it will be the best in the class. Several students in the back of the room start throwing crayons at one another.  Once again there is confusion all around you.  This time however, you are determined to remain on task and keep creating your work of art.  You block out the noise and retreat into a world of your own focusing on the task at hand. Eventually order is restored. Too bad though, because you wanted to get the Teacher to take a look at what you were creating, but she was too busy with the bad kids.


While in Social Studies class, another disturbance occurs.  Several of your classmates laugh and talk loudly back and forth to one another while the Teacher writes on the blackboard.  It is impossible for you to concentrate and you wonder to yourself how anyone is expected to learn anything with all these interruptions.  The Teacher tries to quiet the class, but is unsuccessful.  Finally, you give up and just sit there quietly as the Teacher admonishes the class. You hope that your next class will go smoothly, and that there won’t be anymore problems.


In the back of your head, you hear your mother’s voice from earlier that morning; “...see to it that you do your best in school today   “...get into a good high school  “... so you don’t have to struggle...”.


These fictional scenarios are played out everyday in your school and the some one thousand other schools that make up the New York City public school system.  How can society act to help restore order in schools?  What new policy or policies should be created to address the disruptive behavior of students so that effective teaching and learning can take place in school?




You will have to find solutions to stop the constant interruptions to the education process caused by disruptive student behavior.  Your task will be two-fold.

First, you will role-play scenarios that describe episodes of disruptive student behavior.  Following the role-playing activity, you will engage in a class discussion and brainstorming activity with the goal of suggesting changes to current school policy and/or establishing new policies of your own.

Second, and to further assist you in this endeavor, you will follow the six step public policy approach as outlined below to assist you in defining and creating your own public policy recommendations.


1.  Define and describe the problems caused by consistently disruptive student behavior.

2.  Gather evidence for the problem (statistics, case studies, samples of Dean referral forms with follow up data, surveys, and articles by experts.

3.  Identify the causes for the problem.

4.  Describe and evaluate the existing policy in the New York City school system for this problem and how it is applied in your own school.

5.  Develop solutions/policies relating to effectively dealing with the problem of disruptive behavior on the education process.

6.  Select the best policy.

7.  Present your completed public policy project to classmates during regularly scheduled class-time.




Students in the class will be assigned to imagine and write their own scenarios of episodes of disruptive student behavior.  The completed scenarios will be presented in class.  Students can select one or more of these scenarios, or choose from the scenarios presented in the introduction section.  Afterwards they will have a class forum openly discussing the issues as they relate to policy from the scenarios.  Students will conduct internet research to help them formulate and structure policy recommendations.
































Your grade will be determined by the following rubric.



Exceeds Standards


Meets Standards


Approaching Standards


Blow Standard


Student presentation is logical, clear and fully captivates audience interest


Student presentation is logical, clear and somehow captivates audience interest


Student presentation is logical somehow clear but not captivating


Student presentation is illogical and difficult to follow

Subject Knowledge:

Student demonstrates full knowledge of subject matter and beyond

Subject Knowledge:

Student demonstrates knowledge of subject matter


Subject Knowledge:

Student demonstrates little knowledge of subject matter

Subject Knowledge:

Student does not display knowledge of subject matter


No grammatical errors


Very few grammatical errors


Some grammatical errors


Inadequate grammatical presentation


This webquest meets the following New York State Learning Standards:


English Language Arts Performance Standards


E1c:  Read and comprehend informational materials.

E2a:  Produce a report of informational materials.

E3b:  Participate in group meeting activities.

E3c:  Prepare and deliver an individual presentation


Social Studies Performance Standards


Standard 5:  Civics, citizenship and government.




After participating in this webquest exercise, students will gain experience in, and a working knowledge of, the shaping of matters of public policy.