Simple Tips for Dealing with Difficult Students

Teaching difficult students can take the wind from the sails of even the finest teacher.

Student behavior problems not only affect the teacher, but they distract those students that truly want to learn. Disruptive students take time and energy away from the teacher and this leaves less time for teaching and learning. Difficult students also put a damper on the mood of the classroom.

An effective teacher will recognize and address disruptive students immediately. If the student has parents that are involved in their child’s education, then a phone call home may be effective as an intervention. Some parents, however, are less involved and will almost certainly do nothing to minimize their child’s negative classroom behavior. In these instances, it is important to find a consequence that makes an impact.

For some students, the negative attention that they receive from the teacher is actually a motivator. Sometimes, a subtle approach is more successful. A simple “meet me after class” will often do wonders, especially if said out loud in class. Also, children value their free time and taking it away from them can be very effective.

Behavior assignments are also a great deterrent. Try creating a worksheet that asks general questions such as:

  1. What rule did you break? Why?
  2. What is your plan for behaving more appropriately next time?
  3. How does your behavior affect others?
  4. Write an apology to those that were affected by your behavior.
  5. Why is it important to follow the rules?

Keep several photocopies of these “behavior assignments” around and hand them out as needed to difficult and/or disruptive students. Perhaps you could even remove a special privilege from the student until he or she completes the assignment.

Student contracts are another great way to motivate students that could use a little “nudge” to behave better in class. Student contracts set the classroom expectations then describe the rewards and consequences that go along with following (or not following) the contract. For some students, this is just the “nudge” they need.

You’ll find a student contract in each of the following contract packages:

And finally, try developing and implementing a classroom discipline plan that focuses on respecting others, following expectations, and behaving in a safe and appropriate manner. A well-executed classroom discipline plan can help to maintain structure and consistency for the students – and with these elements in place, your students are likely to benefit and behave in a more positive manner.

Good Luck!