Mikaela Armelini

Applying neuroscience research to challenging behaviour in class

Driven by the need of effectively support students with behavioural issues, teachers need to understand what challenging behaviour entails and its implications in the classroom. In this presentation, we will consider the impact of thoughtful interaction with learners, and we will look at trauma-informed classroom strategies to manage distressed behaviour and effective ways to reframe our classroom language.


1. Introduction

a. Attention getter: showing a picture of a student with a hoodie on: Look at the picture and think for a moment, imagine she is in the middle of a particularly important lesson. She is not paying attention at all. What do would you tell this student if you were her teacher?

b. Reason to listen: Do learners behave badly deliberately? Not always, and those who have experienced trauma may find it difficult to behave appropriately in the classroom. How can we help them feel safe in our class?

c. Thesis Statement: Today we will define challenging behaviour, explore neuroscience theories to help us understand the behaviour of learners who have experienced trauma. Finally, we will look into trauma-informed classroom strategies to manage distressed behaviour in the classroom.

2. Body

a. Main Point: understanding the brain

i. Analysing brain theories

ii. Brain’s response in stressful situations

iii. Examples of learners’ response in the classroom

b. Neurosequential model

i. Perry’s inverted pyramid

ii. Classroom situations and practical ideas to help learners calm down

iii. Strategies to help students regulate, relate or reason

c. Defense mechanisms

i. Examples of learner behaviour and interactions in the classroom

ii. Breaking unhelpful patterns of interaction

iii. Suggestions for classroom implementation

d. Thoughtful interaction with students

i. Teacher language: bad and good practices

ii. Framing our statements and requests to learners

e. Final remarks

f. Conclusion

g. Q&A"


Mikaela Armelini is a Cambridge DELTA certified teacher with more than 6 years' experience across all the educational levels. She works as a remote teacher coordinator at the British Council for more than three years now.