Your Attention Please
Students misbehave for four reasons. The one that is probably most familiar to teachers is that which falls under attention-seeking behaviour.
During my first years of teaching, Daniel was a student who was well known by all in the building. If asked what he wanted to do for a living her would have said, be a stand-up comedian. He would often present his comedy routines in the hallway during the noon break. He had the students laughing but they weren’t laughing with him. He was so hunger for attention I don’t think it mattered.
Daniel’s need for attention was rooted in his upbringing. I won’t go into a lot of detail but let me simply say he didn’t have a lot of experience with parental hugs followed by the words, I love you.
His attention seeking behaviours manifested themselves in many ways, both in the classroom and in the community. For a while he would walk to a fellow teacher’s home to get a ride to school in the morning. It was actually a longer walk to the teacher’s house than it was for Daniel to walk to school. One Christmas morning he arrived on the doorstep of another teacher and talked until he was invited in.
Daniel really liked me. I would always chat with him, so he would regularly seek me out. He knew that I spent the first half of the lunch-break in my classroom, and I would be either tutoring students or marking assignments. He was a regular visitor.
On this particular day, the Grad Class executive was meeting in back of my classroom. I was sitting at my desk marking projects. Daniel arrived and stood next to me. He was chatting away, but I wasn’t giving him the attention he needed. I wanted to get the projects marked and I simply didn’t feel like talking. I threw in the occasional “Huh” and “Oh yeah?” but I really wasn’t following him. I just wanted to get my marking done.
Suddenly I heard a loud bang. I looked over and Daniel was on the floor. Beside my desk I had a smaller metal desk on which I kept reference books and papers. I wasn’t sure what caused the bang, but assumed Daniel hit it on the way down. He was flat on his back. I expected to see blood.
I jumped up from my desk and the students ran up from the back of the room. Daniel’s eyes were closed and he was motionless. I knelt down on one side of him, and Bonnie, the grad class vice-president, was on the other side. We did an initial assessment by running our fingers down the back of his head and body looking for bumps or anything unusual.
I turned to one of the students and told him to go look for the resource teacher. He probably knew Daniel better than anyone and would know if he had any medical condition. I just hoped that Derek, the resource teacher, hadn’t gone out of the building for lunch.
We were at a loss as to what caused the bang. Daniel didn’t seem to have any injuries. He seemed to be coming around and we manged to get him up to a sitting position with us supporting his back. We examined the back of his head again. Externally, everything seemed to be okay.
I looked up and was happy to see Derek enter the room. I asked him if Daniel was prone to fainting or had any medical condition?
He ignored me, stood by Daniel and spoke. “Daniel, get up ……. GET UP!”
Daniel jumped to his feet with eyes wide open.
Derek continued: “I’m SICK AND TIRED of this behaviour, Daniel. GET OUT!”
Daniel scurried out of the room seemingly unscathed.
Derek took me aside, “Let me guess, Daniel wasn’t getting a lot of attention. This is a game he has has been playing lately, pretending to faint. Something else you should know, he has the hots for Bonnie.
Wow. Daniel went from next-to-zero attention to having me AND BONNIE running our hands down his body. He must have been in his glory.
I have taken Standard First Aid a number of times over the years. I keep looking for the section that reads, If the patient continues to be incoherent and absent of any physical injury, SIMPLY YELL AT HIM.
I still can’t find it but, apparently, it works.
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