How to Deal With Inappropriate Behavior in the Classroom

Students passing notes in a classroom.
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The most common types of student misbehavior are talking at inappropriate times, failing to pay attention and refusing to do the required work, according to a 2012 study published in The Scientific World Journal. These types of disruptions frustrate teachers and hamper learning for the rest of the class. To keep moving forward with the curriculum, teachers must have a plan in place to effectively deal with inappropriate behaviors.

1 Have a Plan

The teacher should determine what constitutes inappropriate behavior in the classroom and decide what the consequences should be. These standards should be clearly communicated to students. Some teachers create a classroom management plan that outlines what is expected during learning time. This can be as simple as asking students to always behave respectfully, or it can be a more specific outline of what behaviors merit what punishments. For example, a teacher can decide that if a student disrupts class three times, that student will receive a detention.

2 Stay Calm, Respectful

It may be tempting to react in anger when a student misbehaves, but staying detached is key to maintaining an authoritive presence in the classroom. The teacher shouldn't let the student know that she has gotten under the teacher's skin. If necessary, the teacher should pause before responding to the outburst. When reprimanding the student, the teacher should make sure it's the student's actions that are criticized, not the student herself. However, the classroom leader should calmly and clearly enforce whatever consequence the student's behavior has warranted.

3 Enforce Rules

When a student exhibits behavior that goes against classroom expectations, he should face consequences immediately. But the punishment should be issued privately so the student can maintain self-respect and "save face," as undermining a student's dignity can lead to an escalation of misbehavior. Whenever possible, the teacher should give the student a choice: If the student is refusing to work, for example, he should be given the option of working on spelling or art homework. The teacher should listen to the student's reasons for misbehaving but make sure he ultimately takes responsibility for his behavior.

4 Handle Escalating Behavior

Sometimes a student's misbehavior is so extreme that the rules outlined in the classroom management plan aren't effective for stopping it. In that case, the teacher should have a plan for what to do if bad behavior escalates. One strategy is to have "teaching buddies" -- other students who can take charge of the misbehaving colleague while the teacher takes a break. If the student is at risk of becoming violent, educators should have an emergency plan that involves security personnel and administrators. A letter to parents may be required when dealing with students whose behavior presents serious problems. A teacher should be respectful, emphasize the positive and listen to parents' explanations of possible motives for the student's disruptive behavior.