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Ways Students Misbehave and What Teachers Can Do About It

Dealing With Common Student Misbehaviors


All teachers have to deal with student misbehaviors on a daily basis. Most of the time, these problem behaviors will not cause major disruptions. However, even minor misbehaviors can lead to greater disruptions if left unchecked. This article looks at a number of problem behaviors that students exhibit. It then provides specific ideas on ways to combat these behaviors before resulting to the discipline plan. Major disruptions like belligerence and cheating have been left off because those require more direct action. Remember, the earlier you can stop a child from misbehaving, the more likely it is that a major disruption will not occur.

1. Note Passing

Note passing can be disruptive to not only the students involved but also those sitting around them. The key is to catch the students in the act. Confiscating the notes has a huge impact on the students. Once you have taken the note, you have a choice of what to do with it. Some teachers hand it back at the end of class, some read the note, and some just throw it away. The choice depends on your teaching style.

2. Talking

Excessive talking can be truly disruptive. The first step to deal with talking is to walk near the students. This helps them realize that you are aware of their misbehavior. Sometimes this is enough to stop the talking. If not, the next thing you can try is to stop talking completely and using nonverbal cues. The students in question will notice the silence and probably stop talking too. If these two actions are not enough, then you will need to move to your posted discipline plan.

3. Off Task

Students can be off task in a number of ways. They might be daydreaming, completing homework for another class, or maybe even surreptitiously texting with their cell phone. If this is not a chronic behavior issue with a particular student, you might try simply walking near them while teaching to let them know of your awareness to their misbehavior. However, if this is not enough of if the issue is one that has happened before, you will probably need to move to implementing the discipline plan.

4. Clowning Around

Every year, you will probably be faced with at least one class clown. The key to dealing with a class clown is channelling that energy to positive behavior within the class. However, realize that they present a problem that can escalate into full-scale disruption if not careful. A talk with them after class and giving them responsibilities within he class can help.

5. Calling Out

Requiring students to raise their hands is a key way to keep control of discussions and use best practices such as wait time and questioning techniques. However, despite your best efforts students will still try to call out. This is especially true if other teachers in your school do not enforce hand raising. Therefore, the best thing to do is be very consistent about enforcing this from the beginning. Ignore called out answers, only call on those with hands raised, and pull students aside in the beginning of the year to ensure this doesn't continue happening.

6. Sleeping in Class

Hopefully, this will be a rare occurrence in your teaching career. However, if you have a student who falls asleep, you should quietly waken them and pull them aside. Find out if there is a reason why this is occurring. Is the child sick, working late, having problems at home? If this is not a common occurrence for this student and you have concerns, you might want to send this to their guidance counselor for further help.

7. Rudeness

This can be the most troubling behavior. While you can't pinpoint specific belligerent actions, when a child generally has a rude attitude towards you it can be very disheartening as a teacher. If the student is outright rude, calling your names or other actions such as this, follow the discipline plan immediately. But when you are getting mean looks and a surly attitude, it's best to pull the student aside and discuss this with them. If necessary, call a parent-teacher conference to get their help with the situation.
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