How to Work With Disruptive Students

What classroom doesn't have at least one or two students who constantly disrupt the class with their antics? In order for students to be able to learn effectively, there needs to be consistency and order in the classroom. Often new teachers do not know of ways on how to handle the ongoing battles with disruptive students, and this makes their job that much harder to do. Here are some sure-fire ways that teachers can work with these disruptive students and provide harmony in their classroom once again.

Disruptions can come in the form of, but are not limited to:

  • Holding conversation during lesson time
  • Talking when others are talking
  • Tardiness
  • Poor behavior in the classroom
  • Disrespect to other students and teachers

Be assertive and lay down ground rules from the beginning of the school year. Let your students know that you mean business when it comes to disruptive students. Be fair to your students, though, and make sure that they are clear on what your classroom rules are. Explain why you have these rules. Also remember to enforce those rules. If you do not enforce the rules, the students will certainly catch on quickly. Hang the rules in your classroom where students can see them clearly.

When dealing with a disruptive student, keep yourself calm. Do not become hostile towards the student. This will only show the student that he or she can push your buttons and the problem will escalate. Unfortunately, some students get a feeling of satisfaction when they know they can make the teacher angry at any given time, and will use these tactics as a way to get out of lessons. Defuse a conflict as best you can.

Confront the disruptive student as soon as possible to help regain control in your classroom. Ways that you can do this effectively might include:

  • Referring the student to the rules that you have laid for the classroom.
  • Stand next to the disruptive student while you teaching.
  • Redirect his attention by asking the student a question, such as "Do you have anything further to add?").
  • Hold the student back after class has ended to have a conversation. Try to clear up any problems one-on-one.

Sometimes students will become disruptive for reasons such as not understanding the lesson, the lesson repeats things you have already taught, or they cannot hear or see you from where they are sitting. Be sensitive and alert to these situations. Perhaps tweaking your lesson plans a bit will solve some of the disruptive behavior in the class.

Be careful never to point out how one student is doing in class, whether it be positive or negative. It is okay to address the entire class as stating, "The whole class performed very satisfactorily on the test. Way to go class!" Never let the entire class know how one student did on a test or quiz. This can cause a student to become hostile, and thus birth disruptive behavior out of anger. Discuss individual progress with students when class is over.

Consider your learning style when you are confronted with disruptive behavior in your class. If it is just one or two students who are constantly the problem, then the above tactics might work beautifully. If you find that there are many students in your class that display unpleasant behavior, it may be that your rules are too lax, which can encourage disruptive behavior, or that your rules are too strict. When students feel from the start that they cannot meet your standards, they might not even try at all.

Remember that you can also elicit the help from other teachers, especially veterans, or other staff administrators for more strategies. You may find that something they use to defuse disruptive behavior will work just as well for you.