Friday, November 12, 2010

Some Techniques to Deal With Disruptive Students

Some Techniques to Deal With Disruptive Students

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Although students who display inappropriate behavior do suffer from chronic inattention as the source of this inappropriate behavior, an explanation alone will not be helpful to those instructors who must deal with these behaviors in class. Listed below are a few techniques that may prove helpful to contain inappropriate behaviors in students.

1. Know your students. While many students may display inattentive behaviors, disruptive students generally always display these behaviors and noticing them may give you an indication to expect disruptive behaviors and to be ready for them. These behaviors may include: inattention to direction, chatter with other students, poor eye contact, failure to respond with direct answers, dazing off in class, attention toward other items such as a phone, a paper on the desk, who is passing in the hallway, and other things rather than toward what is being presented, attention toward what other students are doing, etc.

2. Be aware of what is going on in your class. Prevention is always preferable to intervention. The best way to prevent disruptive behavior is to be aware of its potential before it manifests. A way to be aware of your student's behavior is to speak and teach them while facing them as a group. Frequently, it is when you are facing the board, looking to a book, or speaking to a few students that disruption takes place. Remember, a disruptive student is an angry student who feels badly about themselves so that deception will be a major behavioral characteristic. By facing your entire class while teaching, you will reduce the frequency of deceptive behaviors in the disruptive student. One way to get your student's attention is to tell them, as a group, "Pay attention, this is important" frequently. The statement will gain their attention and cut down on inattention and possible deceptive behavior.

3. Have your students understand that part of their participation grade will be impacted by their tendency to be disruptive or unprofessional. Disruptive or unprofessional behavior could be to such a degree as to warrant a failure grade for that student.

4. Model professional and appropriate behaviors for your class. Have them see themselves as capable of performing these behaviors. You may even have some of your students demonstrate for the class what you have taught. You might include your disruptive student(s) in this demonstration to show them that they, too, are capable. Remember to reward your student's professional behavior with praise.

5. Distraction is a wonderful technique to intervene on any unwanted behavior. Disruption usually escalates into a problem. If you hear chatter with others from your disruptive student or see any indication of a problem, distraction by asking a question pertaining to the lesson, asking students to go to a specific page, or any other change will have the effect to distract the disruptive student and possibly prevent a problem.

6. Humor is a wonderful way to disarm the disruptive student. If your class sees you as able to have humor, the disruptive student is paid less attention and usually joins in on the humor.

7. A disruptive student usually requires an audience to gain power. It may be one or two students that cooperate with the disruptive student and fuel the student’s defiance with attention. The sooner you break up this union the better. One way to do this is to have your students break up into small groups that will be asked question periodically concerning your lesson. The questions are for no credit but will indicate their attention to what is taught. These small groups may have to be changed periodically but do prevent the attention that the disruptive student gains from the one or two others that had fueled the disruptive student's behavior. In addition, the interaction between the disruptive student and more common students will have a positive effect of the target student.

8. be flexible in your thinking and in your behavior. Your class will have more respect for you if they see you as flexible. In addition, you are modeling flexibility to your students. Rigid or authoritarian styles are seen as a challenge to the disruptive student and you can count on a problem from them as a result.

9. Smile often to your class. Many disruptive students will justify their behavior by seeing you as angry and inflexible. Smiling to your students helps to prevent this justification.

10. Use confrontation with the disruptive student only as a last resort and never in front of other students. Confrontation in front of other students only provides an audience for them as a well as a pressure for them to respond in a negative manner. In a private meeting show yourself to be concerned, helpful, and understanding of the disruptive student's situation.

These are only some interventions that you may find useful with some of your students. These do not cover all situations.

Sunday, September 5, 2010



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Most employees experience discomfort in their personal lives in the form of relationship problems, financial difficulties, and life stress. Unfortunately, many bring those problems to work.

Employment related problems cost industry millions of dollars each year in time off, sick benefits, loss of employees, and loss of production. Substance abuse occurs over all segments of workers in an effort to self-medicate unwanted feelings such as guilt, anger, and nervousness. Less obvious and more “minor” problems such as loss of focus, difficulty with coworkers and supervisors, inhibited creativity, and procrastination stem from the tendency to take differences of opinion personally as angry acts and criticism rather than as points of view, and are usually not addressed until they become serious and sometimes debilitating conditions.

It is the decrease of awareness that automatically converts attention into negative anticipation, dwelling in the past, and concern for what others may think. These are the negative thoughts that stimulate troublesome behaviors.

The concept of Attention Training© is simple. If awareness of the present is not allowed to diminish, then attention cannot be converted into the negative thoughts which trigger personal discomfort, less effectiveness at work, and corporate loss.

Taught in large groups, Attention Training is easily understood by employees and administration. Without the need for background information, Attention Training is administered quickly, and, as a result, is cost effective. This breathtakingly logical technique, first offers employees a reasonable and believable source for the origin of their discomfort and an uncomplicated method to increase their focus that is pleasurable and therefore, easily learned.

The result of Attention Training is an immediate and noticeable benefit to the employee in the form of increased self-confidence, better concentration, attention, and memory, clearer thinking and problem-solving ability with more tactful expression, better and more intelligent problem-solving, less personal problems at home, less of a tendency to take differences personally as criticism but to see them as points of view and, most importantly, less procrastination and greater productivity.

Thursday, September 2, 2010



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Basically, Attention Training is a biological technique that employs the Pleasure Principle to produce desired results. The Pleasure Principle is a fact that states if you place any organism, even an amoeba, in a condition of pleasure and pain, and give the organism enough changes to learn the position of each, the organism will always gravitate toward pleasure and avoid discomfort.

This is the case with Attention Training. Through the Four Points and Taking Back Small Times, the body is given chances to learn the positions of pleasure and discomfort. With repetition, the body gravitates toward pleasure and avoids discomfort.

Different from what I believed when writing The Habit of Living, a new habit of awareness is not built through Attention Training. Instead, the automatic awareness that we are born with is “jump started” and continues to operate for life. The negative thoughts that the “Bad Habit” uses to distract the individual from spontaneous expression in the present lose the ability to distract since the individual views negative, out of present thoughts, as foolish and cannot respond to them as valid.

To view the problem of decreased awareness and negative thoughts differently, we may say that a person with the “Bad Habit” has too much attention “inside their head” and this attention is continuously being converted into negative thoughts outside the present that are used to justify the discomfort that decreased awareness produces.

When an individual consciously and deliberately uses one of the Four Points, some attention that was used to fabricate justification for the discomfort of decreased awareness is placed back in the present, where it should be. As a result, although the individual may not experience pleasure, he or she will feel some degree of relief. It is this experience of relief that will encourage the body to repeat the Four Points and with repetition, pleasure, defined as likeable stimulation to the senses, is experienced.

As a biological procedure, background information and individual differences are irrelevant. Attention Training is an educational system that may to taught in large groups or may be learned by reading printed material and through practice. What is necessary for an individual to benefit from the procedure is the desire to gain happiness, dedication to the system, and practice till completion.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Please check out our new and improved website

The Attention Training Institute with the help of New Jersey Computer Doctors is proud to announce the new and improved website for Dr. Ernest Mastria.  Please visit us online at: The Attention Training Institute ~ Belmar, NJ 07719

Reflexive Attention Diversion and a Method of Attention Training

By Dr. Ernest Mastria

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The past two decades have seen an increasing acceptance of mindfulness as a core psychotherapy process and an increasing emphasis on attention regulation. The model presented here assumes that the development of an habitual flight response involving both intentional and automatic attentional processes is the core cause for the development of psychological problems. This dysfunctional habit consists of a reflex-like decrease in, and withdrawal of, attention from the here and now. The attention training program described here is aimed at building a new habit that restores individuals’ natural tendency to maintain sensory contact with their environment in the here and now. The first phase, The Four Points, focuses on object attention and conscious thoughts. Clients are taught to consciously monitor what they attend to and to increase their awareness of all sensory inputs in the here and now. The second phase, Taking Back Small Times, deals with receptive attention and orienting thoughts. Clients are asked to focus attention on everyday behaviors that are normally engaged in automatically and with little awareness. They are also asked to expand their attentional field by becoming aware of peripheral stimuli without losing their attentional focus. Attention training can be taught individually or in groups.

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Monday, August 9, 2010



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Over the past twenty years I have worked to find a single cause for psychological symptoms and a method to alleviate the pain that they produce. To do this, I took an opposite approach to tradition. Instead of looking for differences among symptoms, I searched for similarities.

What I found is that just before an individual experiences anxiety, depression, or another symptom, attention or focus toward their surroundings literally decreases. This decrease in awareness causes a slight discomfort in the body. The individual’s intelligence, in an effort to problem solve the cause of the discomfort, becomes confused since a source cannot be found in the environment. The intelligence leaves the present and fabricates a justification in the future, the past, or in what others think. With a fabricated justification for the source of discomfort, confusion reduces. However, since discomfort is negative in quality, any justification fabricated by the intelligence will also be negative. It is these negative thoughts that trigger a sequence of symptoms that I call Reflexive Attention Diversion (RAD). Fear responses or anxiety prompt the individual to avoid expression in the situation associated with the anxiety. Although avoidance reduces the discomfort of the anxiety, depression is generated since the individual does not behave as they would like. Depression triggers anger over feeling trapped and controlled not to do as they would like or want and the individual frequently ventilates the anger usually over a trivial situation stimulating guilt for offending those for whom they care and a cycle develops that may follow the individual throughout life.

This “bad” habit may often be traced to the process of socialization in childhood. Frequently, guilt and fear are employed to force compliance in a child. Over time, the pairing of expression with criticism generates anxiety in situations to express.

In some other cases, the individuals who have not experienced anxiety or other symptoms to any significant degree may develop RAD as a result of a perceived life-threatening event as in the case of PTSD. In these instances, the individual’s mind and body are impressed with the information that potentially catastrophic events may occur seemingly out of the blue and without warning. As a result, the fight/flight mechanism is triggered and never really shuts down and symptoms are experienced.

I refer to the technique that I developed to eliminate psychological discomfort as Attention Training. Through the intelligence, the individual is literally taught to increase awareness of events in the moment. With repetition, pleasure is generated and a new habit of awareness is formed quickly. The idea of Attention Training is simple, if attention that should be directed toward the environment is not allowed to decrease, then that attention cannot be automatically converted into the negative thoughts that trigger RAD and the resulting sequence of symptoms.

RAD and Attention Training is important for the following reasons:

1. RAD and Attention Training are simple and easily understood. The simpler a technique is, the wider the scope of individuals that may employ and benefit from it.

2. Attention Training is a biological technique that employs the Pleasure Principal so that individual differences and background information is irrelevant except in cases of potential physical harm.

3. Attention Training is quick. Without the time required to search for a cause for present discomfort in the past, an individual may learn of a logical source for their discomfort and the tools to begin fighting back from the first session and feel immediate relief.

4. Attention Training is reliable and replicable. The technique may be taught to and administered by other mental health professionals, teachers, parents and others.

5. Attention Training is economical and cost effective. Because personal information and individual differences are largely irreverent, Attention Training may be administered in large groups with significant financial savings to the health care industry.

6. Attention Training has been so effective that I have converted the system to one for children and to one for relationships.

7. Attention Training offers an alternative way to view the origin of psychological discomfort and a logical intervention method that may offer a new direction for research.