Managing Disruptive Behaviour

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While teaching young people is often not easy, managing classrooms with students of mixed abilities and diverse backgrounds can be really challenging. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges is getting a class to be quiet. Picture this: it’s the first day of school and you are required to be the homeroom teacher for a class of boys in their early teens. Boys at this age can be a handful! 

The Situation 

Just as you are trying to settle down the class, a piece of chalk comes hurtling from the back of the classroom, missing you by an inch! This is followed by snickering, some laughter, and a great deal of shuffling. What do you do?  

The Options 

You may decide on one or all of the following: shout at the class; ignore the incident and hope it won’t happen again; ask about who is responsible for the disruption; decide to punish the whole class by making them sit quietly until you think they are settled. 

The most important thing to do is to remain in control. Shouting at the class will give the impression that the teacher is unsure of how to handle the situation. Ignoring the incident is not a wise decision either. There is no guarantee that it won’t happen again. Obviously, someone is seeking attention and is enjoying the distraction. Asking the students to sit quietly without doing anything is a temporary solution. They need to understand that disruptive behavior is unacceptable.  


Below are some tips to address the problem: 

  • Firstly, the teacher must not ignore the problem but let the students know that she noticed the disruptive behavior  
  • Keep an eye on the students  
  • Involve the students by making eye contact and ensuring that they are on task 
  • Talk to the student/s responsible for the behavior after class 
  • Move the students to the front of the class  
  • Draw their attention to classroom rules that ensure discipline by establishing boundaries  
  • Finally, follow up with the student and praise him for correct behavior. 

You may also look at this link for more information: Managing disruptive behaviour in the classroom | Cambridge English 

Mrs. Ozma Siddiqui is an English language instructor and has been in the field of English teaching for over 20 years. She has taught both the tertiary years and the international curriculum to young adults and beyond. Besides teaching, she is a reviewer of papers for the International Journal of English Language and Education. Mrs. Ozma has earned the MA in English Literature and ELT and the MA in Education. She is also qualified as a holder of the Trinity Postgraduate Diploma in TESOL. Mrs Ozma is currently a research scholar in Education and her primary interests lie in second and foreign language instruction, methodology and language acquisition, curriculum and testing.


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