Tips for Dealing with Classroom Troublemakers

What are teachers to do with a “classroom troublemaker”?

It is a teacher’s responsibility to provide a classroom environment that is conducive to the learning of all students. Oftentimes, this is easier said than done. Every classroom has at least one student who is the constant focus of a teacher’s attention, and usually not for the right reasons. This perpetual distraction is usually detrimental to the progress of other students.

So, what’s a teacher to do with a classroom troublemaker? The following are five suggestions that may help teachers to “take back their classroom” and make it the learning environment that benefits all students, even the troublemakers themselves:

1. Be “Firmly Flexible”
Lets face it, many students who fall under the moniker of a “classroom troublemaker” are lacking one major component to their character; discipline. As a teacher, it is important to understand that if discipline has not been acquired by a student after 13 years of parenting (or lack there of), it certainly isn’t going to happen over recess. Teachers must accept instilling a sense of discipline in today’s problem student should be a game of “give and take,” rather than a power struggle. Teachers must demonstrate that they are willing to find compromise with troublemakers, while continuing to uphold the standards and expectations that have already been ingrained in their classroom.

2. Impart Ownership and Responsibility
Many classroom troublemakers struggle with a sense of self-identity. Often times, their aggression is a cathartic response to feeling uncomfortable and frustrated by their inability to participate in daily classroom activities. Teachers must find a way to make these students feel that the classroom is THEIR classroom too! By giving problem students consistent responsibilities that they can confidently carry out, you are empowering them to becoming productive students. In turn, these students may gain a sense of ownership and pride in their classroom through this newfound sense of responsibility.

3. Communication is Key
In order for teachers to effectively quell the activities of a classroom troublemaker, open communication is key. The teacher must communicate clearly to the problem student both academic and behavioral expectations. Also, regular conferences between the teacher, administration, parent(s), the student themselves and any outside parties is imperative. All participants must be willing to respectively work towards understanding the nature of the issue(s) at hand and find acceptable solutions that will benefit both student and classroom.

4. Magnify Accomplishments
It’s human nature for all of us to enjoy the occasional “pat on the back” for a job well done. Envision a student who never has the opportunity to feel that sense of accomplishment. As stated earlier, many of our “problem students” struggle with various aspects of classroom learning. It is important for teachers to understand the significance of importing that sense of accomplishment in their problem students. Teachers must set problem students up for success with the curriculum in their classroom, so they can feel the benefits to accomplishing a job well done.

5. Location, Location, Location!
Oftentimes, teachers do not take into account the immediate environment of the students within their classroom. Teachers will often place troublemakers “out of the way” so they do not distract from others. This may be the worst thing to do. The reason troublemakers often act out is that they feel excluded. It is important that teachers strategically place these troublemaking students in a place where they may be able to succeed.