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Troublemakers in the classroom: Are they a disruption or a warning sign?

cover of the book
The New Press
Carla Shalaby's book explores the lives of those kids who earn a reputation of being a troublemaker at school.

Think back to grade school. Remember that one kid who was always disrupting the class? The one who talked out of turn, cracked jokes, and was always getting sent to the principal’s office. In other words, the class troublemaker.

Well, it's exactly those kind of kids who are the subjects of the new book Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School. Author Carla Shalaby, a research specialist at the University of Michigan School of Education, spoke with Stateside about the book.

Shalaby's work training teachers takes her into classrooms all over the country, where she began to take an interest in the students who get labeled as troublemakers.

"You can find at least one in every classroom or every school," she said. "I was working, supporting new teachers in those classrooms, and of course those students stand out everywhere I go."

She shadowed four "troublemakers" both inside and outside the classroom for a year, observing their behavior. 

Listen to the full conversation above to hear what Shalaby learned about those troublemakers, and what she thinks we can learn from them.

Stateside originally broadcast this story on Aug. 9, 2017.

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