A few years ago a book came out called Exclamation Mark, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. In the book, an exclamation mark lives in a world of periods. He never understands why he doesn’t fit in. Then he meets a question mark who shows him that being different isn’t a bad thing. The exclamation mark then learns that his uniqueness is something to be celebrated.
The book shows us that some kids are like exclamation marks. They don’t always fit in, but that’s not a bad thing. Psychologist Kazimierz Dąbrowski called this psychomotor overexcitability. Kids with psychomotor overexcitability are often mistakenly viewed as troublemakers. This is because they can be disruptive in class. However, education expert Sarah Wiseman says that overexcitability is not a behavior flaw. It is rather a valuable part of the student’s personality.
Ms. Wiseman says that when we view overexcitability as an asset to be directed rather than a problem to fix, then we are helping empower students. There are many good things that can come of a student’s overexcitability. Overexcited students have lots of energy and passion. They are doers rather than thinkers. They love to take action and talk to groups.
These are not inherently bad traits. They actually can help the student to be a strong leader later in life. The difficulty comes when an educator has to learn how to direct the student’s energy and passion in a healthy way.
How then can educators empower overexcited students instead of stifling them while also maintaining order in the classroom? Ms. Wiseman gives several great and practical ideas.
For example, many students with psychomotor overexcitability struggle with talking too much and too loudly. Instead of using vague commands like “Use your inside voice,” Ms. Wiseman suggests creating a sound scale with a number value for each level of volume.
A level zero means no talking at all, a level one means whispering, and so on. Educators can ask the student to lower their voice to a specific level which helps the student understand where they are and where they need to be.
What will educators gain from this course?
In this 1-hour course, Ms. Wiseman shares her personal journey with psychomotor overexcitability and how to support students with it.
Educators will learn:
- The theories behind Psychomotor Overexcitability
- The strengths and weaknesses of students with overexcitability
- Practical ways to manage overexcitable students in the classroom
- How to help overexcitable students learn life skills
Which T-TESS Domains and Dimension does this course apply to?
Learning Environment Dimension
- 3.1 (Classroom environment routines and procedure)
- 3.2 (Managing student behavior)
- 3.3 (Classroom Culture)
Ready to learn more?
Ms. Wiseman, M.Ed., teaches G/T Integrated Language Arts in Frisco ISD. She also writes curricula and presents professional development for G/T and social studies. Ms. Wiseman earned her bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Oklahoma and her Master of Education degree, specializing in G/T curriculum and instruction, from Southern Methodist University.
T-TESS Cube is a library of professional courses led by experts in education. The courses are aligned to the T-TESS Rubric. They are a great way to develop teachers and administrators.