Teachers should try to diffuse small behavioral problems before they get out of hand. Jill Eulberg, a veteran in special education, says it requires a “skillful balance of concealing your emotions and using techniques to de-escalate the behavior.” Here are some of her tips and advice on which I elaborated:
Misbehavior typically serves one of two purposes, either the student wants attention, or wants to avoid something, like work. A student who constantly disrupts the class thus may communicate a need for attention.
Teachers should try to anticipate the negative behavior and meet the student before class and perhaps assign a special task or help the student in some way, even if it is just a friendly chat. What is the situation at home? What issues could be sparking the student’s behavior?
When a student’s behavior goes from annoying to out of control, focus on maintaining your own self-control. Take deep breaths, keep calm, visualize yourself in the tearoom after class, distance yourself from the student and the situation. Use conversational diffusers such as “I hear you,” “Thanks for sharing,” or “Okay, let’s leave it at that for now.” Try silence. Count to ten before responding, see if the student does turn quiet.
As repeatedly stated, a classroom management system that is consistently practiced is essential. Students need to know the class rules and procedures; they need to see them consistently being practiced. It must have rewards and negative consequences. Students will test boundaries, so teachers need to set clear limits that are consistently enforced, otherwise, students will take advantage
If a student is really disruptive, reach out to other teachers, especially those who specialize in working with students who have behavioral issues. Seek out these individuals and ask for their advice.
Depending on the country, culture and educational system, you may be able to get assistance from a special education teacher or school psychiatrist who can identify the student’s emotional or behavioral disability and provide a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) for handling the behavior.
A golden rule is to document all incidents in the class. Journal the victories, but in the case of misbehavior, make sure to document it accurately: time, context, students involved, your corrective steps, and the result. Documentation is critical to establish a pattern of behavior. It provides the teacher with solid facts to present to school administration; it is helpful in teacher-parent communication and protects the teacher in the case of an inquiry.
The focus is sometimes so much on the problems of the misbehaving student that the rest of the class are neglected. Their rights to proper education in a safe and positive environment are being overlooked. With extreme behavior such as violence, the safety of other students and yourself should be your primary concern. Do not tolerate being hurt or threatened. Isolate the student from others and call for help.
Have a plan or procedure to follow after such an incident. How to calm the students and allow yourself to regain your composure. Part of the procedure is when, how, and to whom to report the incident.