Closer and Quieter – How To Manage Attention-Seeking Behaviour.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Two heads, one bigger and one smaller, are facing the same way with the bigger head behind the smaller one. There is a speech bubble coming from the bigger head with text that says "closer and quieter".

As teachers, we’ve all had students who seem to just act up because they get a kick out of it. The students who like to get on your nerves, who seem to thrive on getting a rise out of you. How do you manage these students?

These students seek your attention regardless of whether it is positive or negative, and you using your go-to behaviour management strategies is exactly what they want. They will argue with you, make a big fuss and show off in front of their friends until things escalate out of control. This is where getting closer and quieter can have a real impact.

What is attention-seeking behaviour?

Attention-seeking behaviour has become a bit of a catch-all term for unmanageable problem behaviour in students. There is very little research yet a great deal of consensus around what it looks like and what it means. 

The term “attention-seeking” has become a bit of a dismissive term. It’s often used to disregard a student’s needs and experiences and paint them as a narcissist. If you couldn’t guess, I really don’t like the term. 

See more: Why Your Students Are Not “Attention-Seekers”.

Everyone seeks attention. Whether you admit it or not, everyone regularly seeks attention from those they love, those they respect, and just those that they deal with day-to-day. Some young people in our schools feel very ignored and act out to fulfil their need to matter in someone else’s life.

This becomes a problem when a student finds their value in the entertainment of their peers. This isn’t necessarily a problem in itself, except when it prevents the rest of the class from settling and learning.

Why don’t most behaviour management strategies work?

Many behaviour management strategies actually give the student needing attention what they want, encouraging them to amp up the poor behaviour next time. What many of these students want is to escalate the situation, and if they can get you to lose your temper and yell then they’ve won. 

Even something like having the student removed from the class can give attention and reinforce the behaviour. If needing attention is the root cause of poor behaviour, you need to be very careful about what you do to manage it.

The “Closer and Quieter” strategy.

What you really want to do with these students is build connection. You want them to understand that they can have your attention without needing the attention of everyone else in the class too. 

This strategy is exactly what it says on the tin – whatever you’re going to do, do it closer and quieter. 

If you have a student getting distracted from their work, don’t call out to them across the room. Get up, walk slowly up to them until you’re right behind them and very quietly tell them to get back on task. 

If you have a student bouncing around the room, make your way over to them without any fuss and tell them to go and sit down quietly enough so that only they can hear. 

This strategy doesn’t only work with direct instruction either. Getting closer and quieter can also work really well for preventative behaviour management strategies such as giving praise, suggesting an extension or alternate activity or giving a student a special job to do. 

See more: 5 Strategies for Relief Teachers to Quickly Build Rapport with Students.

Why does it work?

Just like with any other teaching strategy, this isn’t going to work every time, in every context or with every student. Getting closer and quieter is a good way to tweak your current behaviour management strategies in favour of de-escalation and building some connection with your students who are seeking it. Some teachers find that this strategy can be used to intimidate some students, which may work for you depending on the teaching persona that you adopt. Regardless of what you want the emotional impact to be, getting closer and quieter conveys that you’re serious and the situation is personal.

See more: How to Manage Attention-Seeking Behaviour in School Students.

Related Posts

How to Manage Attention-Seeking Behaviour in Your Students.

Whether your students are seeking positive attention or are acting up to get a rise out of you, there are strategies that you can use.

A teacher is sitting at a small table with two of her students doing craft activities. One of the students is sitting backwards on his chair slumped over, and the teacher is resting her head in her hands with her elbows on the table.

Why teachers need to admit when they are wrong.

‘I was just testing you!’ is a common excuse, but the truth is that unless you are teaching very young primary aged students, no one believes a word of it.

Is it Worth Becoming a Highly Accomplished Teacher?

Many schools have a salary tier for HATs, but these are often specific positions. There is no guarantee that you will win one, or that one will be available.

A class of students in uniforms sit in rows in the background doing a test. Their teacher is standing in the foreground supervising them with his back to the camera.

The Different Teaching Styles: Which One Works for You?

There are many different teaching styles, and each one can be successful in the classroom. It’s important to understand what makes each type successful.

Should Teachers Intimidate their Students?

No. Plain and simple. That’s all there is to it. Here’s why: Students need to be able to trust their teachers. Students need good role models.

Flipped Learning – How Do You Get it to Actually Work?

Flipped learning is one of those things that are fantastic in theory, but there are stories about how it just doesn’t work; at least, not for my students.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *