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Dealing with difficult students

If you become a teacher you will inevitably encounter students who will refuse to do as they are told and challenge your sanity. They are often quickly labelled "the bad student" but here are some good ideas to help your deal with difficult students, and assist you in getting through those tough times.

Try to understand the student.

You may think that a troublesome student is Satan's spawn who's come from the deeps of Hell to torment you, but nine times out of ten that student probably has a reason why they're like that, and it probably has nothing to do with you.

I highly advise trying to check the student's background before you explode at them. You may discover that the child has a difficult family life or a history of mental illness. They may even be the target of bullying or have trouble getting along with their classmates.

I once had a student who caused trouble in my class and was often rude to me. I asked other teacher if he was often like that, and she explained that his parents didn't take much care of him, and often left the boy at home in the evenings. He often talked of having to cook his own dinner and eat it alone.

Sometimes all these students need is love and stability in their lives.

Check to see if there have been any behaviour plans that have been implemented with that student before.

Talk with the student's previous teachers or head of your school to see if they had any ways of dealing with the student which worked in the past. Even if they don't, some more experienced teachers may have some ideas which may work. Ever student is different, so sometimes you just need to try many different techniques until you find something that works.

Try to implement individual rewards and punishments in the classroom.

A general classroom behavior plan for all students may improve the behavior of most students, not only the one who is causing problems. You can check out a great guide on classroom behavior management here.

I highly recommend punishing bad students individually, instead of the whole class. If the class is constantly being punished because of the actions of one student, the other students may turn on them, which will cause the bad student's behavior to become worse.

Avoid labelling them as a bad student

If you are constantly screaming and raging at one kid, the other students will pick up on it, and possibly copy your behavior.  It's one thing to be called bad by your teacher, but it's terrible from the kid's point of view to receive the same treatment from classmates, and even the classmate's parents.

If the student feels like their classmates dislike them and has trouble making friends, it may make their behavior worse.

If they act out or break rules, take them out of the room to talk to them one on one if possible. Discourage the other students from talking badly about the student. For example, if you hear other students calling Akito "a bad student" try to explain that he's not bad, he just needs to try harder, and he has many positive points as well.

Try to see the positive aspects about the student.

You may want to erase that small child off the face of the earth, but please try to at least think some good things about the student, no matter how small they may be. For example, they sat in their chair for over ten minutes, they can tell funny jokes, they participated a little, or they actually drew a nice picture. 

It might not seem like much, but trying to think positively about the student may help your own sanity and stop you wanting to murder them.

If your attitude towards the student changes, their attitude towards you may change as well. I've had several students who once drove me insane, but once I acknowledged their good points and tried to know them, our relationship improved.

Accept that the student may never be perfect

If the student has a difficult family life which effects their behavior at school, you can't may have to accept that it's a problem that you can't fix. You can't exactly go over to their house and make their parents take better care of them. Instead of aiming for perfect behavior, you may just have to aim for trying to make them less terrible.

Website with great ideas on dealing with difficult students.

The 7 Rules Of Handling Difficult Students

Know any good websites, or have any great ideas on dealing with difficult students? Please to comment below!


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