Classroom Drama: Handling Middle School Classroom Interruption


Constant classroom interruption will render your teaching ineffective and make your classroom less productive.  Negative interrupters will challenge your ideas at every turn. Their attitudes are extremely defensive. Often, they doubt that anything you say will work for them. This behavior is especially prevalent in middle school settings.

However, they believe what they say is right because of past knowledge, experience or from knowledge of learned from previous classes or even from parent conversations.

Interruptions won’t let you finish your sentence nor will they let fellow classmates explain their opinions of an idea or situation.  They have a sense that they already know what you are talking about. For example, they have already read the book you’re going to read; they have already done the math sheet that you’re going to pass out and they have already watched the movie you are about to show.

Therefore, they may interrupt the flow of your reading session, the flow of your math instructions or the flow of your science presentation at every chance they get, attempting to prove to others that they have knowledge of the idea already.

The constant annoyance of the interrupter interferes with your teaching and stops students from learning, and therefore, must be appropriately addressed if you want to maintain focus and control of the classroom.

Taking Effective Action

Don’t Lash Out

Interruptions may have valuable knowledge.  Instead of yelling at them, ask interrupters to explain to the class their side of the issue.  There may have a few ideas that will make a difference in the unfolding of the lesson’s objective.

Sustain Discussion of Main Topic

Redirect back to the topic at hand. Don’t allow the interrupter to embark on topics irrelevant to the subject and ideas you are attempting to teach to the classroom.  If you let the conversation drift from topic to topic, you will waste time and students will become confused.

Allow Other Students to Comment

Give students an opportunity to comment on the interrupter’s point of view.  New insights can come from the discussion of unexpected ideas.  Also, more clarity can come out of such discussions and help students find more meaning in the lesson.

Question the Interrupter

Put the interrupter on the spot.  Ask him or her to explain the value of what you are teaching to the entire class.  This should be easy for them if they already know the lesson and the significance of what you are going to teach.

The Expected Outcome

Effectively dealing with interrupters will teach them the importance of allowing others to learn without being annoyed and distracted by constant interference.  By challenging the interrupter to openly explain his point of view at the appropriate time, you can cut down on the wasted time spent on discipline the student.  Instead, you are able to integrate his ideas into the overall objective of the lesson.

The majority of interrupters just want to be recognized by what they know.  Make them feel that their opinions count.  You will discover that there are fewer interruptions and more learning and participation going on.