Several weeks ago, I was sitting in a class lecture. Five minutes passed. I was still sitting; the instructor was still talking. Another five minutes went by. I started fidgeting. After 15 minutes, I was having a hard time paying attention, and realized I wasn't absorbing any of the material from the lecture. Before 20 minutes had passed, unable to sit still and pay attention, I got up and took a quick walk around the building. When I returned to class a few minutes later, the instructor was still talking; the audience was still sitting and passively listening.
After almost an hour of trying my best to sit up, take notes, pay attention, I was so fidgety that I knew I couldn't stay in the class. As I excused myself from class a second time, I realized that I was "that kid." I was totally being the kid who can't sit still in class, isn't paying attention, won't stop fidgeting, finds excuses to leave the classroom, is completely disengaged, is disgruntled and absolutely unenthused.
I'm usually not that type of student. Give me a question to discuss with classmates, give me something to read, ask me to create something, and I'm eager to jump right in. But talk at me for an hour, and I start to look like a behavior management case study.
I don't say this to advertise the fact that I am not an auditory learner, or that I can't sit through an hour lecture- nor am I suggesting that lectures have no place in education. Rather, it makes me think about the correlation between what we ask students to do, and how they behave. When I'm asked to work with classmates, write something, engage with the content, apply what I'm learning to a real-world problem, I don't fidget. I don't leave class twice within an hour. Our students aren't any different. Give them something to do that matters to them, get them engaged with each other and the world around them, help them see a purpose for their work- and much of the behavior management challenges that plague classrooms disappear.