Teaching the Disrespectful Student
Disrespectful behavior by any student is of tremendous concern for those in the teaching profession. Teachers would rather spend time teaching, not managing rude or uncaring students. Can teachers teach respect? Do we allow disrespect to seriously interfere with instruction? Consider strategies to discourage and handle disrespectful behavior by a student before it occurs. This week, we offer a series of classroom management tips for teaching disrespectful students.
This Week's Tips
Model Respect to All Students (Monday)
Demonstrate professionalism and respect for all students. Set a tone of respect in the classroom. Be welcoming to students, make eye contact, and call students by their names. Establish clear guidelines for behavior and clearly explain expectations. Send clear messages to students that their opinions and contributions are valued. Thwart disrespectfulness by remaining calm, responding quietly, and maintaining a professional perspective. Don’t allow personal comments to sink in. Over time, students will learn that disrespectful behavior does not provoke you to anger.
Respond Consistently to Disrespectful Students (Tuesday)
Address disrespectful behavior consistently. Practice “zero tolerance” for disrespect. It should not be ignored. Start with a polite warning, establish eye contact, and use “do” rather than “don’t” statements. Defuse with communication and give the student the opportunity to replace negative behavior with positive choices. Utilize an unoccupied space in the classroom, if necessary, to allow a student some space. Later, discuss the incident with the student quietly, calmly, and privately. Make consequences for future disrespect clear.
Conduct Classroom Meetings to Address Disrespect in the Classroom (Wednesday)
Solicit input from all students regarding classroom issues. Structure class meetings to address problems of concern for the community of learners within the classroom. Facilitate the class meetings by leading the students through a series of simple, but thought-provoking questions. Focus on addressing the problem (disrespectfulness) and problem solving. Help students to reach a consensus on how to manage the issues of concern.
Be Patient with Behavioral Changes in Disrespectful Students (Thursday)
Accept that changing negative behavior takes considerable time and effort. Also accept that the commitment of this time and effort is a worthwhile endeavor. Helping a student to dispel disrespectful behaviors is a slow progress, but you will be giving the student a life-lesson that no one has had the courage or strength to teach before. Stay the course and rebuild the trust. Students become loyal to persons that treat them with respect, even when they may not deserve it.
Monitor Disrespectful Behaviors (Friday)
The purposes of disrespect are to get attention, gain control, seek revenge, or to withdraw. Some disrespectfulness may be reversed by treating and responding to the student respectfully, conducting class meetings, and rebuilding trust. However, some disrespectfulness may indicate major behavioral problems, such as fits of rage or violence. Schools have specific policies regarding student behavior. Know the policies your school has enacted to keep you and your students safe. Maintain a log to document negative behaviors. Involve other school personnel for team planning, counseling,
or other more aggressive actions.