Bully, Class Clown or Cry for Help?

The following blog was contributed by Jodee Blanco, New York Times best-selling author and consultant.

There always seems to be that one student chronically in need of attention.  They’ll interrupt class continually whether to engage their classmates or challenge a boundary with you. You may have gotten to a point that as much as you enjoy teaching and love your students, this one child has you almost dreading that particular period.

Sending this child to the principal’s office every time he/she acts up, while it may offer a brief, short-term fix, may not always yield the best results in the long run. On the other hand, you can’t sacrifice an entire class for one difficult student.

I’ve been there. As an anti-bullying author, speaker and survivor who travels to schools sharing her story in gyms and auditoriums across the country, I encounter these disruptive students all the time. Some of them will actively attempt to derail my presentation.

When I first started doing this work twenty years ago, I’d let their teacher or the principal intervene, as it was easier than trying to handle it myself with all those watching eyes from the bleachers. I was also worried I wouldn’t address the situation correctly or that my annoyance might get the better of me, so I’d take a deep breath and continue my presentation, grateful to the school for their swift and effective action.

And then I realized something. Every time I let the school rescue me, I was losing a valuable opportunity to connect more deeply with the students and show them the power of leading with truth and compassion. I was also denying that disruptive child the chance for me to inspire their respect.

There’s no such thing as a bad kid, only good kids emanating from bad circumstances. Attention-seeking behavior is usually a cry for help. We can answer that cry in many different ways. The more we choose to answer it ourselves, even when we’re afraid we might get it wrong, the more we grow in wisdom and grace.

One of the most rewarding moments for me as a speaker is when a student who was goofing off or acting inappropriately during my presentation, comes up to me afterward to apologize and get a hug.

Though every student and each circumstance is different, I’ve learned some great techniques for reining in the kids who need your love and support the most and I’m excited to share them with you during my webinar Bully, Class Clown or Cry for Help? Decoding Classroom Disruptions and Responding with Compassion. I hope you’ll join me!

About the Author

Jodee Blanco is the author of four books on bullying, including the New York Times bestselling memoir, Please Stop Laughing at Me. She is also the author of the NCEA’s Anti-Bullying Survival Series. Jodee travels to schools, sharing her story to save lives, and has spoken to thousands of people worldwide. For more information on Jodee and her in-school anti-bullying program, please visit jodeeblanco.com/catholic-schools/.

Jodee’s Other Webinars on Bullying:

Jodee’s Publications with NCEA: