I observed Mark in his fourth grade classroom during a science lesson. Mark is an intelligent ten year old child, but he has a difficult time paying attention to his teacher. He likes to get a lot of attention and when he gets bored he turns his focus to other destructive matters, such as, throwing pencils up into the ceiling. Throwing pencils in the ceiling has gotten him in trouble many times, and once he was kicked out of the classroom for it. When he becomes uninterested he stops paying attention to instruction completely.
When he is bored, he needs to find another activity to fill the void, and that activity will be something that distracts the teacher and his classmates; two characteristics that make it interesting and entertaining to him. From my observations, I believe Mark’s behavior problems are the result of a lack of attention and disinterest from the people in his life, and a general sense of laziness and intimidation for tasks that seem difficult. Mark comes to school with an unclean appearance (dirty clothes, messy hair, looking like he has not bathed) and without the proper tools to actively complete his assignments.
For example, he comes to school without any pencils or paper and his backpack is a mess of old crumpled papers. Mark’s behavior problems decreased as his teacher had time to give him one on one attention and break down his tasks into smaller assignments while giving him encouragement and the sense of working hard and having accomplished something. Mark read well, but at a slow pace that would become frustrating to him. He stumbled over words and his classmates had annoyed looks on their faces as he took so long to read a paragraph aloud.
His teacher also realized this and later took the time to explain the textbook pictures and figures to him so he could visualize the content he was reading about. His teacher told him that if he becomes bored of the assigned work of looking up vocabulary words then he should switch tasks for a few minutes so he can take a break. When he would start to lose interest he would start trying to talk and get the others’ attention. He would stop his work, look around, and then call out, “This is boring! to the kids around him. There was a boy sitting next to him at his table that he would poke with a pencil and laugh at when the boy would get mad. He also spent a lot of time staring out the window and digging a groove into his pink erasure with his pencil. When his teacher was able to come and give him one on one attention he was attentive and looked at the teacher as she talked. Mark’s teacher creates a “to do” list for him so that he can check things off as they are completed.
At the end of the section Mark was able to check off several things from his list, and he was proud that he was able to complete so many things. He bragged to his classmates at his table by showing them his list so they could see everything that he had finished. Mark is not a mean child, nor does he want to hurt others, but he needs more positive attention in his life. With the absence of positive interest from those around him, he seeks out anything he can get, which naturally ends up being the negative attention.
His teacher does not always have the time during a lesson to cater to Mark, but she tries to check on him frequently because of the results it brings. After he was given extra help and saw what he was able to accomplish when he set his mind to a task the effects began to show in the classroom. Of his own initiative, Mark took out a piece of paper and started taking notes once his math lesson began. He teacher commented to me that that does not happen very often.
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