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Tips on Managing Disruptive Students

written by: Lady Lit • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 3/2/2012

Find suggestions on dealing with those students who always want to act out and disrupt the quiet classroom environment. Some behaviors may be quickly altered early on in the year, while some additional strategies may be needed for students who habitually and intentionally disobey instructions.

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    Need Some Help?

    Do your students hang from the rafters? Do the other teachers on the hallway complain as you have the loudest classroom on the hallway? If your class appears to act more like a circus than students engaged in a learning environment, then you may want to change the way you go about bringing order to your classroom.

    Personally, I do not think that learning can take place until your classroom is disciplined enough for that exchange of information to occur. I understand that sometimes teachers do activities in their classroom that encourage students to interact with other students, thus creating noise, etc. However, I am primarily referring to students who are out of control in a learning environment, one in which a teacher is attempting to instruct his or her students.

    Every Teacher Has At Least One...

    Every teacher loves to have that perfect class in which everything seems to be running smoothly until that one student walks in who challenges the teacher's patience level. Now, you have that one student who will disrupt and disturb your class constantly and habitually. It is to the point in which the other students are politely asking the student to avoid interrupting their learning experience. If you have this situation, there is an effective measure that you can take to quiet the disturbance.

    Moving Students

    Sometimes a student who is continually being disruptive needs some time away. Speak to the student and tell him or her how the distraction is affecting his or her learning and the learning of the whole class. Have a designated place in the classroom for the student to go when he or she needs to regain focus. This may mean a different table or quiet area of the classroom. This is not to isolate the student, but to give him or her a choice about where to go when focusing becomes difficult. You may find that the student will willingly go there.

    When there are no other students around, the student may be able to regain focus on the work at hand. Be sure when using the SmartBoard, blackboard or dry-erase board that the student is in full view of the teaching instruction being presented.

    After allowing the student some quiet time, most students will want to return to the class when they have regained focus. Students can return to the rest of the class when they are ready. Eventually the student learns self-discipline in the classroom.

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    What if it Doesn't Work?

    Talk to the student and see what is occurring in the student's life that is causing this problematic behavior. Sometimes, you will discover that the student has a parent serving in the armed forces in Iraq or some other life changing event is occurring in the student's life.

    Other times, you will discover that the student is in desperate need of attention and is acting out at school as there has been a recent addition to the family or the student's mother has remarried. So, the student feels the need to get attention at school, which as his behavior is being reported to the parent, the student is getting negative attention at home as well.

    In these situations, the student may be open to talking about this problem with you, the teacher, or if the teacher is uncomfortable hearing the personal life of this student, a teacher should send the student to his/her counselor so that the student can get the attention that he or she needs.

    Generally, if a student is misbehaving, there is a deeper reason that accounts for the problematic behavior.

    Be Interested

    Teachers are not fond of those students who disrupt class, but some students do not know any better, so just face the facts that these students are young and are still learning.

    Find something interesting out about the student who habitually disrupts class. If he is into four-wheeler riding, ask him to show you a picture of his four-wheeler.

    Sometimes, something as easy as showing an interest in your students will eliminate problematic behavior as the student realizes that you actually care about his or her performance.

    Arrange a Conference

    It is a good possibility that in these cases, the students are you dealing with have problematic or dysfunctional home lives, so it may be unlikely that you will get a parent or guardian to attend a teacher/parent conference. In these cases, arrange a conference with a principal and the student, so that maybe the administrator can pull some information out of the student. Even let the student pick what administrator he or she would like to meet with as if the student has a good relationship with one of the principals, he or she may be more comfortable discussing his problematic behavior.

    Use a Reward System

    With this particular student who has a difficult time behaving in class, reward him or her on those days when the student was the perfect angel in class. Give the student a drop grade or a homework pass or some meaningful incentive that encourages the good, respectful behavior.

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    Managing Problems Part Way Through the Year

    At this point in the school year, teachers are tired of dealing with problematic and disruptive behavior from students. Teachers have exhausted their means with regard to implementing classroom management strategies and still have students who refuse to refrain from talking as well as those students who will do anything and everything to gain the attention of their peers. Teachers are just trying to last the remainder of the school year and are looking forward to their break.

    Isolate the Student

    Here are some suggestions to help you prevent from pulling your hair out.

    Isolate the student who is disrupting your class to an area of your classroom where no one sits. If you have to, move the students from the rows that surround the student and give him no one to talk to and no one to bother. If you have a full class, this suggestion may not work. If you have a table against a wall, move the student to that particular table so that the student is all alone and has no one to disrupt or bother.

    Isolation and/or alienation can work wonders and can increase the attentiveness of your class and eliminate those unnecessary disruptions.

    Revoke Privileges

    Also, take away some meaningful reward or consequence for this student. If you allow your students to earn eating/drinking privileges, do not allow this student to eat or drink in class. If the student already has these privileges, revoke them. After all, if the privilege is that meaningful to the student, he will reform his problematic behavior and work hard to regain the privilege.

    Avoid Putting the Student in the Hallway

    Remember, that as a teacher you are liable, so I would avoid sticking students in the hallway. Generally students are notorious for roaming campus and end up getting in even deeper trouble. As a teacher, you are liable for whatever actions the student engages. This means that if a student does something serious to another student or injures himself, that student as well as his or her parents may sue you. I realize that this is not fair, but you have to be careful as to your actions as a classroom teacher.

    Do you have any further tips to share?