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How Teachers Can Handle Students With Challenging Behavior

How Teachers Can Handle Students With Challenging Behavior | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Managing a class is a huge topic to talk about: in a nutshell, it 's focused on the teacher's duty to organize a classroom properly, maintaining discipline and setting the tone. The teacher must be able to inspire confidence, shaping a relaxing atmosphere among students, irrespective of his/her teaching style and personality; furthermore, an essential point implies the teacher's capability to pay attention to the variations of activities and situations and be able to modify his/her role according to that. In other words, being a good teacher requires a high awareness about the role to “play” (when being an assessor, prompter, facilitator, tutor, participant, observer, model, manager, and organizer) to optimize students' learning process and keep a friendly environment. Unfortunately, in some circumstances, teaching could be not easy at all: because of the class size, the age of learners, lack of motivation and other factors, the teacher may come across troubles and quite unpleasant situations.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Stefania L. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Understanding The Problems

First of all, it is essential to figure out why problems arise: if they stem from the teacher's attitude or from external factors. Analyzing the first case, it is rather obvious the teacher is making some mistakes: perhaps he/she is not able to be consistent or to catch learners interest; instead of establishing a good rapport with students, it is possible the teacher does not show respect, empathy, any sort of consideration. The cases can be many and varied. We can surely bring up a good teacher is someone who strives to give his/her best and then to be a model to follow: she/he will be punctual, passionate and knowledgeable, respectful towards every students and firm when asking the same from them, capable to keep calm above all. Imagine a teacher who tends to scream when loses his/her temper: it is not exactly the idyllic context for studying and learning. Likewise, attending an English lesson into a chaotic and undisciplined class will not be much productive.

Also Read: A Summary of All English Tenses for ESL Teachers and Learners

Regarding the latter case, it is assumed to be in front of a teacher as well-prepared and right as it is required, but dealing with "not easy" students: they could be too young to be sincerely motivated in learning English (because of children or teenagers), too many into a class, just bored and not interested in the topic prompted. It could also happen some students (or even just one) come from problematic backgrounds and they lack in good manners towards teachers and peers; in some cases, we could even talk about bullies at school and the importance to prevent and discourage every kind of behavior that seems to be violent, aggressive and disrespectful.

teacher and student

Teacher’s Role

When into this kind of dynamics, the teacher should be a hundred percent aware of the role and position she/he performs and the importance to promote and develop respect, consideration, empathy and discipline: these can be gained not by shouting and adopting very strict punishments, but being a model above all. It means the teacher will act firmly and immediately when notices a problem or a potential one, like modifying the classroom disposition and arrangement: it concerns the power to switch students seats and vary the way to group them according to the activity they have to fulfill or how they match with each other; moreover, the teacher could only stop and stare at the challenging student, or even talk to him/her privately after class (if necessary, with the presence of the parents). It's just vital to keep in mind the focus must be on the wrong behavior, not on the person.

Also Read: How Teaching Slang Can Benefit Your ESL Students

Asking for Help

Nevertheless, it could also happen the teacher is not very experienced and uncertain about how to approach annoying situations when stronger measures are required; in case the teacher feels to have not got the situation under control, it would be better asking for advice, to colleagues and staff members, to solve it as soon as possible: it is more likely they have already been in these circumstances, whereas it is not worth the risk to be proud and silent, waiting for better times. Usually, the teacher's secret for promoting a positive atmosphere among students is being friendly, warm and passionate, while the secret for maintaining discipline from the very beginning is to appear strongly self-confident and solid: the more she/he will start exerting control, the more relaxing control will be easy. The proper balance between strictness and confidence will enrich the learning process and will be surely successful.

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