Disruptive Behaviours

Conflict between teachers and students can occur when ‘caring about’ happens at the expense of ‘caring for

Disruptive behaviour is a catalyst for disengagement, poor learning outcomes, disrupted relationships and escalating consequences such as suspensions within Australian schools.

While it could be assumed that suspensions linked to behaviour would be mostly related to physical aggression such as fighting and angry outbursts. In fact, the majority of suspensions occur because of persistent low level disruption and disobedience like:

  • Back chatting
  • Not listening
  • Not doing work
  • Swearing
  • Being out of the classroom

Triggers for these disruptive behaviours in students often start in the early years of schooling and may be triggered by:

  • Having academic difficulties
  • Being bored with a dull and inappropriate curriculum
  • Bullying and peer conflict
  • Having teachers who are more concerned with their own power, rather than empowering students
  • Students perceiving teachers as lacking care – being more concerned with caring about behaviour rather than caring for students individually

Not only do suspensions and time-outs not address the antecedents of disruptive behaviours, they also increase the likelihood negative consequences like:

  • Escalating anti-social and retaliatory behaviours
  • Inappropriate peer relationships
  • Truancy
  • Special education placements
  • School failure and early school leaving

To stem this growing tide, the priority for schools needs to focus on identifying and understanding antecedents of disruptive behaviour, rebuilding students trust with positive school climates and relationships and reducing negative behaviours by introducing a behavioural support model like PBIS.