Students will test the authority of student teachers. That is a given. Even veteran teachers must constantly deal with disciplinary issues. However, experienced teachers have two advantages: wisdom that only comes with time in the trenches and the leverage of the grade.
What can student teachers do when students disrespect their authority?
Most importantly, start off on the right foot. It’s easier to maintain order than to reestablish after things have gotten out of hand.
The first day you walk into the classroom, you’ll be making an impression that can establish yourself as an authority figure or a patsy for student pranks. Dress professionally, be organized and confident, and establish the rules in this first ten minutes.
Make sure you have a seating chart with students’ pictures so you can learn their names.
Introduce yourself and tell the class why you chose teaching as a profession and what you hope to accomplish while you are with them.
Treat students with respect and form a partnership with them to achieve goals. If your students sense that you like and respect them, they will like and respect you.
Present lesson plans that are unique, interesting, and relevant to your students. The more engaged students are in the lesson plan, the less likely they are to show disrespect.
Provide activities that allow every student to earn recognition. That is a powerful motivator.
When students misbehave, it’s usually for one of the following reasons: to gain attention, to
over compensate for poor self esteem, or because they have too much time on their hands. Put your trouble makers to work in a positive way so you can teach them an appropriate way to achieve their goals.
Never shame a student in front of his or her peers. Allow him to save face, but talk to him after class and explain how his behavior is sabotaging his chances of success.
Know what disciplinary measures you are allowed to impose on frequent offenders. You should never allow one or two students to take over the class and prevent others from getting an education. Justice should be fair but swift.
Student teachers have a couple of advantages that seasoned teachers don’t have: recent experience as a student and a life that is fascinating to students. You know what you’re up against because you were in your students’ shoes just a few short years ago. Use what worked then. Talk up college life and establish yourself as a role model and someone your students can identify with.
Finally, if everything doesn’t go smooth sailing, don’t despair. Everyone has a bad day now and then, even seasoned veterans. Learning to control a classroom full of energetic children or teens takes time and experience.