First of all, let's clear out what is it exactly that we mean by inappropriate behavior.
The most common examples of such behaviors are chatting with classmates on unrelated topics, commenting when not required to, concentration issues and unnecessary distractions, overall refusal to comply with academic requirements, etc.
It has a distinct negative influence on the academic process for two reasons.
On the one hand, it disappoints the teacher and drains his or her enthusiasm. On the other hand, even when one student in the class expresses such inappropriate behavior, the rest of the class gets distracted, and the progress is slowed down.
Some teachers still try to confront it the old fashioned way – by enforcing discipline. This seems the easiest way.
However, today - in the 21st century – such approach is considered old-fashioned and is frowned upon.
Today, we seek to inspire school kids to learn, because we believe it to be more effective than imposing anything onto them.
In this article we have collected some points to keep in mind while planning and conducting your classes so that you can avoid any inappropriate behavior and deal with it, should it still occur.
Some of these this may seem all too obvious, but this is exactly why some of our esteemed colleagues forget about them and experience behavior issues with their students as a result. So, here are our tips on managing students' behavior in class.
1. Stay cool
Regardless of what kind of behavior you encounter, you need to stay professional and remember that you are not entitled to show any signs of irritation.
Even when you do not want an authoritative atmosphere in class, you still want to retain your authority among your students. Even though it would be strange to expect a student to know much about pedagogy, they are still perceptive.
So, and any outburst of any degree will undermine your authority, as tempting as it may be. This would reveal a bit of non-professionalism.
If you feel overwhelmed with something that a student has done, then just do the old exercise – pause and take a deep breath before you answer.
Use that pause to consider how to respond without criticizing the student him- or herself, but rather the action that he or she has committed or the model of behavior that he or she has displayed.
Be strongly recommended to avoid yelling by all means, and do not use any strong words on any occasion whatsoever.
Staying cool, on the other hand, will strengthen your authority among your students.
2. Set up the rules
At the very beginning of the course, set up the ground rules. You do not need to think it up yourself, you can discuss it with the class.
This way, they will feel co-responsible for the compliance to these ground rules.
Together, you can define appropriate behavior and outline the penitentiary measures for those deviating from it. For example, the student who disrupts the lesson three times is to prepare the next presentation for the next time.
This way, should some students violate those rules, they will have the conscious feeling that they have deserved this.
Moreover, you not only redeem yourself of an authoritarian status, but you also give your students their share of responsibility for their actions and the consequences thereof.
Mind, however, that there should be no exceptions to these rules. They need to be enacted immediately and in full force.
3. Give rewards
Positive motivation is also a good idea. Students must not only be punished for inappropriate behavior but also rewarded for behaving well.
When you are punished for deviating some norms, but not rewarded for performing well, you feel like a circus animal walking on a string and being followed by a trainer with a whip.
Few people might like that feeling, but you surely don't want your students to feel anything like that. This is why you should better encourage good behavior.
The possible ways of encouragement can vary a lot, depending on all the possible factors involved. For example, at certain point students consider it an honor to help the teacher to distribute some papers in class.
Why not make this “honor” a reward that is given to the best-behaving student?
Why not encourage students to behave well this way? Obviously, this is just an example that will not be good for any given class in the world, so you will have to customize your rewards.
4. Be prepared for escalation
Sometimes regular measures just don't help. A student keeps misbehaving, regardless of what regular measures you take to fix it.
Fortunately, such cases are not often, but they do happen. And when they do – you must not be taken aback.
You should be prepared for that, even if you're lucky enough to never encounter anything like this in your career.
What exactly a teacher should do under such circumstances, - should be up to you and regulated by your school's policy and regulations.
One possible variant is to appoint another student to be responsible for setting the troubled fellow right. Another possibility is getting the parents directly involved - in this case, you should be prepared to start with your positive thoughts about the student, as well as to perceive (and not only listen to) the parents' point of view and their explanations of the possible reason for the behaviour that he or she displays.
In the worst cases, you may even need to employ the help of the school's administration and/or the security personnel.
Once again, even if such situations – fortunately - never happen, you can consider yourself lucky. But if they do – you had better have a prepared plan of actions at hand.
So, these our humble tips. Note that you are not responsible for what the kids in your class do after they graduate. You are not expected to write their college application essays or find jobs for them.
All you are responsible for is their performance in your class and not more than that. This is what you have to concentrate on, and nothing more. So, keep our modest tips in mind and treat your job fairly and your students with respect.