Needs Focused Teaching

5 strategies to deal with the disruptive joker


The joker is desperate for attention. His smart remarks, rude comments, smutty gestures, witty retorts and wisecracks may be funny (unfortunately, some class comedians really are!) but they are often a smokescreen to mask frustration, disappointment and low self esteem.

1. Make sure they know the extent of the problem.

Often this child won’t be aware of the problem he is causing and thinks everything is okay because he’s getting a few laughs. Having it explained in private that he is actually starting to annoy the majority of his peers can have a dramatic effect on him – because this is the opposite of his desired effect. Impress upon him that he may well be turning students against himself by acting in this way and that you don’t want to see that happening. Tell them you have a nifty set of consequences which you will implement with the sole intention of helping him kick his silly and disruptive habit.

2. Explain your nifty set of consequences.

Make sure he knows exactly what will happen if he continues disrupting the lesson. Be sure to tell him this is not a personal vendetta against him – it’s the only way you know to help him remember how to behave in lessons. Ask him if he knows of other ways.

3. Show no emotion when dealing with him.

Because of the dire craving for attention the last thing you want to do is reward the joker with an outburst, regardless of how many of your buttons he has pressed. The best response is to issue one of your nifty consequences – calmly and without any fuss at all – every time he acts inappropriately. Don’t give in to his protests either – just take the wind out of his sails with the following lines:

“I’ve told you what is happening, you made your choice. If you want to talk more about this we can do it later; come and see me after school, I’ll be in my room. Now get on with your work.”

…and then turn your back, click your heels and march off into the sunset.

4. Remember the positive alternative.

Don’t forget this student is desperate for attention so you should be ready and eager to pay some out – but attention of your choosing, and only when they do something right. Lump as much attention as you can possibly muster when they are settled and working – throw confetti, bring in a brass band… but only when they have deserved it. If you can stick to the ‘no attention and no-fuss consequence’ for inappropriate behaviour and ‘immediate sincere attention’ for the right behaviour you can see miracles occur surprisingly quickly.

5. If all else fails. Call Batman.

Want more tips on how to motivate the unmotivated?

This blog post is a taster of what to expect in my other resources and specifically, my book titled ‘Motivate the Unmotivated: A step-by-step system you can use to raise motivation in your classroom tomorrow’ which you can find on Amazon by clicking HERE.

Alternatively, you can check out my FREE resources HERE.

Or if you prefer to have all your tips and strategies in one place, be sure to check out my books on Amazon. Just search for any of the following titles:

Take Control of the Noisy Class

Motivate the Unmotivated

Attention-Grabbing Starters & Plenaries

Classroom Management Success in 7 Days or Less

The Cooperative & Active Learning Tool Kit

The Fun Teacher’s Tool Kit

Connect With Your Students

The Classroom Management Tool Kit