Around this time of year, it is important to remember that misbehavior in the classroom can be a sign that kids’ brains are on overload. I have a Far Side cartoon that speaks to this issue. A student raises his hand and asks the teacher, “Mrs. Osborne, may I be excused? My brain is full.”
Teachers have a very difficult job. Expectations are high, schedules are tight, and there will always be more content to cover than there is time to learn. But it is important to remember, as Madeline Hunter once stated, “If you just cover the content, it will remain buried forever.”
Combat the overload problem by purposefully balancing aspects of ritual and novelty into the teaching flow. Students can only pay attention to direct instruction for so long (ritual) before they begin to shut down, so break up the content with activities involving movement and socialization (novelty).
When kids have a chance to talk and move they are better able to both process and digest the information taught. Additionally, denying them these opportunities increases the likelihood the content will be forgotten, and oftentimes escalates negative behaviors in the process.