For just about every teacher, there comes a time when a student is going to challenge authority. Some students challenge authority because they are genuinely unhappy with the world and they seem naturally drawn to be aggressive with authority figures. Other students are simply looking for some entertainment, and they will be disrespectful to see how far they can “push” the teacher. Regardless of the motivation, the teacher must be ready to deal with a variety of student behavior. Here are a few thoughts on how to handle disrespectful students.
The key to discipline is often timing. When the teacher lays out expectations for the class, there are certain students who will very quickly test to see if the teacher is serious. If the teacher’s actions do not match their words, then they have already surrendered some control of the class. Therefore, disrespectful students must be handled as quickly as possible.
When a teacher deals with a disrespectful student, they should remain calm and controlled. They should not get into a yelling match with the student or attempt to gain the upper hand by raising their voice. There may be times where a raised voice is appropriate, but sometimes the quiet teacher is more intimidating to students. The teacher should calmly explain to the student that their behavior is unacceptable and that it will not be tolerated. If the student continues to be disrespectful, the teacher may need to take further steps of discipline.
Remove the student
At times it may be appropriate to remove the student from the situation, either to the hall or to an administrator’s office. The reason for this is that students sometimes lose their energy when they no longer have an audience. If fellow students are not there to be entertained, the student may cease their disrespect.
Finally, there are times when a teacher has to bring in a higher power, such as an assistant principal or a principal. This isn’t to suggest that the teacher cannot handle their own discipline situations, but sometimes the presence of a higher authority conveys to the student that the teacher is serious about their behavioral expectations. Overall, the teacher doesn’t have to be a tyrant and they don’t have to be condescending to manage their classroom. Rather, they need to set expectations for the students, and then make sure they are followed so that the student understands that the teacher’s words and actions are going to match.