I. The Basics
The most challenging part of a teaching career is learning to deal with the troublemakers of the class. Be it, students in primary school or high school, there are always a few appearing bothersome, albeit the resolve to each troublesome kind of student is variant. It is understandable that dealing with these issues might initially seem like a herculean task, but believe it or not, methods as simple as peaceful communication could fix the problem. Prior to looking at the array of techniques and tools at our disposal, I wish to etch the image of an ideal class for the readers.
An ideal classroom conducive to learning has a positive environment and premeditated set of goals that the students judiciously work towards. The teacher is expected to be organised in their manners of teaching, confident and self-assuring, and compassionate and empathetic. Students, especially of higher grades, are expected to be self-motivated, responsible, and respectful. Having looked at this, one should remember that an ideal class is hard to find. Every class has a couple of students that could be categorised as troublesome. However, in a classroom holding scope for change and improvement, the teacher and students combined play part in reaching the standards of an ideal class.
II. When Things Get Out of Hand
Every teacher joins an organisation with potential and dreams. They might get along well with most students, might have an excellent grip on the subject and carry themselves with confidence. But as the career progresses things might not remain as smooth forever. You might come across one of the following kinds of students: -
1. Unpunctual: comes late, leaves early
2. Doesn’t abide by rules: uses a cell phone in class
3. Disrupts class environment: speaks constantly during class
4. Disregards deadlines of submissions
5. Misbehaves with teacher: passes impolite or triggering remarks
These kinds of behaviour could distract other students as well as the teacher, lead to unproductive use of class duration, and test the students’ and teacher’s motivation levels. Thus, it is important to realise exactly when things are starting to slip out of hand to avoid any damage to the class decorum.
“Prevention is better than cure.” To avoid the aforementioned problems from arising at all, the following steps could prove useful: -
Setting classroom policies and expectations from the students clearly at the beginning of the course. This would avoid mismatched expectations and pave a clear path towards the end goal for all students.
Effectively utilise the first few classes to connect and interact with your students. Winning the students’ respect for you would make them more empathetic towards you in the future.
Encourage students to reach out to you via message or meet you at your office in case of a query. This creates chances of removing anonymity and getting to know the students better. Additionally, you can try and memorise the names of all students during the initial period itself.
III. Dealing with Difficult SItuations
Here are 5 types of student misbehaviour and how to deal with them:
The Chatterbox: If you find a group of students constantly speaking during class, you might feel urged to simply shut them up or isolate them however, this will only lead to resentment and long-term issues with the student. It is advisable to avoid negative incentives or punishments here, instead, face the class and wait for the students to finish talking. Once it has ceased, direct a thank you and a smile towards the interrupting students and proceed to teach.
The Alpha: you might come across a student who refuses to finish any work assigned to them or cooperate in any way. In this situation, deal with the student with patience, stating to them the options of doing or not doing a certain task. By removing the pressure and providing freedom, you push them to take responsibility for making the right choices and facing consequences as a result of them. Ensure that you provide encouragement every time they take a positive step.
The Argumentative: Being contradicted by a student is a form of misbehaviour that stems from the need to assert dominance onto others. This kind of misbehaviour should be halted immediately in its initial phases. Try not to get sucked into any arguments as the student would get encouraged to further elucidate their opinions and could continue to act defiant repeatedly. Instead insist that it isn’t the right time or place to discuss the issue and move on. It is important to avoid offering the other hand for a clap in the argument, however, do not disregard their opinion completely. Once in a while, give their opinions a patient listen.
The Brooder: a sudden lousiness or disinterest in a student too can be distracting to the teacher. It is important to have a word with such a student after the class or at a later point in time to get to the root cause of the issue, especially if the change is sudden. The cause could be similar to bullying, issues at home or any other. You could decide to inform their parents of this change in behaviour and its cause in case it is too pressing.
The Clinger: a student might repeatedly ask for your assistance during class. This might stem from a need for attention or genuinely not understanding a concept; It is your role to evaluate which it is. In case it is the former, you must encourage the student to become self-dependent. On the next call for help, you could ask them to use their partner’s help or to try it themselves all over again.
These tips would be helpful to any educational professional. However, “time is the best teacher” and nothing would beat the tricks and techniques you would have up your sleeves on gaining experience in your profession.
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