How to Deal with a Class of Unruly Teenagers

Classroom management is part of if not all of the art that is being a professional teacher. It is quite possibly the most important part of being a teacher, next to content knowledge. A classroom is only as unruly as the teacher leading it allows it to be. 

Never should any fault be placed upon the students. It is the teachers classroom and they need to own it. While there are many different “styles” to doing this, everyone should agree on at least a few common rules to dealing with a classroom.

Set Clear Rules and Consequences

This is extremely important especially when dealing with more challenging students. The teacher must first establish in-flexible boundaries which are never to be broken by students – for example, respect others, no cursing, no late work. On the other side of these boundaries need to be clear and instant consequences if the boundaries are broken. Always follow through on whatever your consequences are. As long as they are established clearly then students know what they can and can not do, and what will be the result if they step out of line. 

Beyond this, needs to be a level of fairness. The classroom is not to be the next Fascist regime. Rather, the classroom is meant to be a safe and comfortable place for all students where every student can achieve. The classroom rules should be in line with this belief. Often it is helpful to allow the students to assist in making the classroom guidelines and even come up with the consequences. 

Set high and clear expectations

                                                                                                                                                  The teacher must establish high but attainable expectations for their students.  The job of an educator is to take their students where they are and bring them to where they need to be. An educator must know what they want out of their students and then show their students how to achieve such high expectations.  It is not enough to tell your students you want them to do well, a teacher must show their students how to do well. These expectations can be outlined in many ways, but for the most part it comes in the attitude of a teacher and in their professionalism.   

Be in Control and Consistent

Never forget the teacher is in charge. Students will push to see how far they can go, but as long as a teacher sets clear rules, expectations, and consequences, they will always at least appear to be in control. Consistency is just as important.  A student must know that you are the same person every day. That you will react to them the same every day.  That you will always act on the guidelines you have established. Adolescents do not like surprises in their instructors, but even more they hate hypocrisy. If you say it, do it. Be consistent and in control of your classroom and students will fall in sooner or later.       

Develop a rapport

The first line of defense for any teacher needs to be getting to know their students. You do not need to be your students best friend, but knowing who they are as a person will go a long way. Just as important, they need to know you. Students are human beings. When you speak to a student as a person out of respect and caring they can tell. A student knows when a teacher is open and listening. It can do wonders for a student for you to acknowledge when they do a good job or even when they seem to be having a bad day. Letting a student know that you are there to support them goes a long way. Students do not tend to act up for teachers they respect and do not want to let down. 

Teaching is not easy, and in no way do these four things encompass all that is classroom management. The key here is that adolescents need boundaries.  They need clear rules. They need to know who is in charge and know that if something goes wrong that person in charge will take care of it. So much of dealing with a difficult classroom comes into the establishment of that classroom as being an academic place. When a student knows what is expected and how to achieve those expectations they are less likely to act out. 

The most important thing to remember is this: the teacher is there for the student, not the other way around. It is the job of the educator to assist their students in the speed-bumps of life. Always be aware that a lot happens to a child when they are outside the walls of your classroom, and all of that comes with them when they sit down. Your job is not to educate just the math and reading centers of the brain, but to educate the whole individual. 

The teacher in many cases is the only stable force in the life of a needy student and that must never be over looked. A teacher can never forget how much of an impact they have on their students. A class is never “unruly” without the teacher allowing it to get that way (of course a good administration helps, but that is for a different article). Set up clear rules, never waver, but always be fair.