Discipline in High School Class

Subject: Discipline
Topic: Use some ideas from Kounin or Skinner to solve a classroom problem

One of my classes is made up for the most part of good students. The class is not large, although the room is tiny and crowded. Some of the students are excellent, always having the answers ready. Others listen for the most part, and learn. Two students, who we will call Amit and Gal, are different. They don’t seem to take the class seriously, and like to laugh and joke, even when nothing is funny. Amit doesn’t always pay attention, but when his behavior in class is commented on by the teacher, he always makes a big argument and defends himself. “Why me? I’m not the only one talking. And anyway, I wasn’t disturbing the class. I work hard to assimilate the material, see how my grades have come up since the beginning of the year. Why do you pick on me? I wasn’t fooling around at all. “ He never admits anything. You would think he was being interrogated by the police and was afraid to admit even one thing, because it will be held against him

What advice can Skinner and Kounin give me? How can I control this student’s behavior, or get him to control himself?

I think I would try Skinner’s successive approximations and positive reinforcement. If Amit doesn’t disturb for a half an hour, make a positive comment even if he doesn’t listen. When he listens attentively make another positive comment. (These students are too old for stickers or Smileys). After a few days of this, discuss with him his improvement but insist in the future on no disturbances and also attentiveness. I would also try and keep up the Kounin student accountability pressure on Amit by peppering him with questions more frequently than other students. I would do this even though he will resent it.

Gal’s problem is very similar. I once told of a humorous comment of the Ibn Ezra, at which Gal laughed uproariously. Gal constantly refers to this comment and laughs, even though it’s not that funny the tenth repetition. He also talks in class much too much, and is called to task frequently. I and using Kounin’s student accountability, but that has only limited effectiveness. I think I should try a schedule of reinforcement if Gal does not disturb, and note and praise his positive (or really non-negative) classroom behavior.