Dealing With Difficult Students


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Children will always test you. They want to know how far they have to go to push your buttons. They also want to know what they can get away with.  There are some students, however, who choose to be particularly difficult and disruptive. How you deal with these children can make or break your class. The following tips will help you deal with these students and control your class.

Student #1: The Wanderer

There are some students who just can’t sit still. When your back is turned while you’re writing on the board, they will get up and move to another area of the class. They may even randomly get up right before your eyes. Some strategies that can help you deal with the wandering child are:

  1. Give the child a designated space to walk in during the class session. If the child walks out of that assigned area, ensure that an appropriate sanction is meted out.
  2. Make your expectations clear at the beginning of each class for the first two to three weeks. The students should know that getting up out of their seats without your permission is prohibited and will result in them possibly having to stand in one position for the remainder of the class.
  3. Craft your lessons in such a way that the students are engaged in hands-on activities more often. This type of engagement will make it less likely for the child to wander.

Student #2: The Shouter

There are some students who will make random outbursts in the middle of your class. Some will also refuse to raise their hands before speaking out. It is important to constantly remind them that this type of behaviour is unacceptable. Say such things as, “Travis, you are speaking too loudly. I can hear you. Raise your hand and I will respond to your question.” Keep reiterating this point until you get the desired behaviour.

Student #3: The Aggressor

There are some students who always look for ways to spur on conflict. These are the students who need to be occupied at all times. Change the seating arrangement so that they are either sitting closer to you during the class or sitting in their own corners. Assign them to be the teacher’s helper so that they feel a sense of importance. Talk to them outside of the class to find the root cause of their behaviour and refer them to the guidance counselor if necessary.

Student #4: The Chatterbox

All children are chatterboxes at some point. They are especially talkative in classes where they lack interest. It is your duty as the teacher to make your lessons as interesting and relevant as possible so that the students don’t go off into their own worlds. If you have done this, but the students are still not settling then you need to rearrange the class. In the next class they will try to move back to where they want to sit, but you have to make it very clear that you won’t begin class until they are in their correct seats. Stick to it and you will see the difference.


There are many ways to deal with difficult students. It can be tempting for a frustrated teacher to tell them something negative. However, the best approach is to use the positive strategies outlined above. Find ways to work with them and your class will gradually become better.


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