How to Teach Naughty Students Effectively

Disruptive behavior is not often personal.

“Naughty Students,” or more appropriately, disruptive students, can be found in every classroom. They are the attention-seekers who seem to make it their job to disrupt the learning process at all costs just for the sake of getting a laugh from the other students. Some teachers may feel the behavior is directed at them, but that is not always the case. The trick is to try to deflect the actions before they start, and keep the learning process moving as smoothly as possible.

Prevent disruptive behaviors before they start. During the first day, set the tone of the class by going over your expectations and, if possible, handing out a “behavior contract” with your expectations and having the students sign it.

Use non-verbal cues if a student begins to show “naughty” behavior. Start with such actions as making eye contact to get his attention without involving the whole class. Sometimes students who are disruptive are seeking attention, and calling them out in front of the class will do just that.

Use brief but authoritative statements if the behavior continues. Make sure when using these statements you are not drawn into an argument with the disruptive student. For example, do not simply shout out “Stop talking!” at the student, because this might lead to a small altercation and will further disrupt the learning process. Simply state for the student to “Please continuing working quietly.”

Discuss the matter with a colleague or administrator if you are unsure of what to do, or if the behaviors have escalated. Be prepared with documentation in order to give the administrator a better picture of what you have been dealing with.

Call a conference with the parents if the student continues to show disruptive behaviors. Make sure you have documentation of each incident, with exact dates, times and actions that were taken. You need to show proof to avoid the he said/she said type of situations that can occur.

Do not take the “naughty” behavior too personally. In fact, it might not have anything to do with you at all. There are many reasons that students might seek to disrupt the class, such as troubles at home, or even problems with understanding the material, that lead them to act out. Simply calm down, breathe and do not let the situation get out of control.

Born and raised in Texas, Jacob Guerra is a college instructional designer who began writing professionally in 2009. His work appears on eHow. He holds a Master of Science in computer education and cognitive systems from the University of North Texas and is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Texas-Pan American.