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How to Deal with Disruptive Students

When students are disruptive, teachers need to think on their feet and react quickly.  A teacher must respond to  negative behaviors with  correct ones.  This can be especially difficult when the negative behavior occurs during the time of classroom instruction. These behaviors can easily result in a cascade of reactions that may sacrifice valuable class time. However, difficult the  student may be, there is no benefit from being punished or vociferated.  They require a more proactive approach to quell the disruptiveness.

There are several strategies a seasoned or new teacher may use to elicit positive behaviors :


Dealing with noisy students: Students who have side conversations or use their phones while class is being taught benefit from a direct approach.  It is best to stop talking mid-sentence look at the student in a non-confrontational manner and address it by saying “please turn off your phones, we are about to begin.”  This sets ground rules for the beginning of class.

Try also directing a question to the area of the room where the distraction is occurring.  Students tend to settle down when they know they have been noticed by the teacher.  This can be followed up by physically moving towards that area of the classroom to give instruction and continue to lead while remaining there.

Another strategy is to break up the class into little groups to carry out an activity.  This will satisfy their need of talking , whether it be on the phone or one to one, while making good use of  class time.  Make sure that you visit each group to touch base so that they are actually engaging in the activity.


Dealing with inattentive students.  Students who don’t pay attention are not necessarily disruptive.  One should assess whether to intercede before acting.  If you do decide to do that then make sure you establish eye contact before asking the student a question.  This makes the student more attentive and will engage the him or her.


Dealing with late comers.  This one is  high on the list of disruptive behaviors.  There are some times that students have a good reason for being late but this is not true in all instances.  This one is tricky because if you say something irretrievable students are likely to not show up to class at all. However, some that are regular late comers can become a large problem.  One way to solve this problem may be to let students know that allowing themselves to be late for class they will miss out on important material pertaining to an assignment.

On the flip side, another problem are early leavers, if students see a value in being in class they will make the effort of staying.  So it is best to cover useful information at the beginning and the end of class.


Dealing with dominating students.  Some students can be overpowering in a group  and could inhibit the contributions of others.  It is your responsibility to make sure that the less dominating students get heard.  Allow the dominating students to summarize their point so that others can respond and contribute.


Dealing with students that challenge your authority.  They may disagree with everything you present.  Recognize their opinions, pull out some important points and move on.  It’s important not to get sidetracked and not enter into any arguments with this type of student.  It just may be beneficial to arrange time after class to discuss his or her point.

No two students are alike.  Each students has his or her own personality.  In order to prevent problems from arising above  all else it is best to stay calm and be polite.  Don’t turn your back on the student and definitely don’t touch them.  Although it is best not to worry about the disruptive behaviors it is also important to be able to maintain control of your class.

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