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Four Steps Model
Step 1: Identify the Behavior
Step 2: Understand the Effects
Step 3: Identify the Cause
Step 4: Avoid Mistakes

Related Behaviors
The Con Artist
The Show-Off
Behaviors At School

The Class Clown

Action: Identify causes of misbehavior. Pinpoint student needs being revealed. Employ specific methods, procedures, and techniques at school and at home for getting the child to modify or change his/her behavior.

Primary Causes of Misbehavior

This student always gets attention from everybody by this behavior.

Primary Needs Being Revealed

This person desires to establish relationships with people and is very unsure about how to go about it.

Escape from Pain
Situations at home or at school may be very painful and this student may be hiding the pain by being the class clown.

Secondary Needs Being Revealed

Sometimes the student's inability to achieve in the academic world causes him/her to become the class clown.

The class clown is saying, "Look, I'm somebody!" He/she seeks a feeling of being worthwhile. Some of these students have high self-esteem and just like to entertain.

Actions to Take
  • Remember, this student may not like the role of class clown.

  • Help the student find a way out of this behavior, knowing he/she will pay any price for attention.

  • Don't ignore this student. His/her personality and needs will not allow it.

  • Enjoy the humor briefly with the class. Remember, the class clown is often funny. The humor is not the major problem-knowing when to quit is always a problem. Therefore, signal by hand movement, rather than words, that "enough is enough."

  • Fulfill the class clown's need for attention at times other than when he/she is "cutting up."

  • In private conference, use the "Time and Place" strategy. Say, "Humor is a good thing. Yet, you may forfeit respect if you always allow yourself to be laughed at."

  • Respond with silence. In a powerful way, this response gets the student to settle down, because he/she knows that each added word is getting him/her in more trouble. When the student stops, however, don't say one word. Rather, go on with the lesson. If you say anything, the student will start up again.

  • With the class, use the "Mature Class" technique. Explain that a teacher would like to be able to have fun with the class. However, a teacher can do this only if the class is mature enough to sense the right time and place for humor. Ask students if they know what a mature class is. It's one that knows when to work and when to have fun, one that can stop having fun and get back to work when the teacher so requests.

  • Don't attempt to handle this student with anger, rejection, or sarcasm, and don't try to outwit this student. Such attempts will fail.

  • Isolate the class clown from his/her audience-but don't forget this student's need for attention.

  • After his/her next clowning episode, laugh with the class. The second time it happens, wait until the incident is over and then explain to the class that humor is a good thing in the classroom, at the right time and place.

  • Following the talk to the class, give the same talk privately to the class clown. In your conference with him/her, emphasize the concepts of maturity and respect. Tell the student you resent people laughing at him/her and it troubles you that he/she is helping them laugh. Tell the student you are going to help him/her handle humor in a mature manner so he/she can make it a personal asset, rather than a handicap.

  • Be prepared to provide the patience and help he/she will need. Your efforts should begin to pay behavior dividends almost immediately.

  • At appropriate times and places, give this student a chance to "perform."

  • When humor interrupts your class, try combating it with more humor. When the class becomes unruly because of "something funny" that the class clown says or does, a problem exists only if the teacher cannot regain interest. The best way to do this is to join in the laughter for a few moments, relax, and then urge the class back to the lesson at hand. The majority will quickly obey. For the others, silence and a serious look in the necessary direction should bring order. If it becomes necessary to discipline a few, the rest of the class is aware of your fairness as well as the need for your action.