There are naughty students in the world, and you’re likely to meet more than one. Whether it’s for attention, out of boredom, or just not knowing any better, some kids act out and get disruptive. So get prepared! Make every challenging student into a teachable moment for everyone involved.
We all have one of those students. A chatterbox who won’t zip it, an idle pupil who won’t join in, a naughty child who turns any worksheet into a paper aeroplane… Every teacher will have experience of a student who acts up in one way or another. If you have a child who is challenging, it can be easy to lose your cool, and your temper. If you’re at your wit’s end, try out some of these different techniques for getting a pesky pupil on board. Not every method will work for every situation – see which method you think is most appropriate for your problem student.
Of course, there are those students that may have a learning disability, such as being on the autistic spectrum. These students may need special help to get the most out of their English lessons.
Quite often, when a child is acting up in class, they just want attention. If you give them attention (by telling them to hush up every five seconds or making a point of telling them off) then you are basically giving in to what they want. By ignoring a troublesome child, you are showing them that the way they behave isn’t going to stop you from being a top-notch teacher. It also sends out a good message to the rest of the class – by ignoring the troublemaker, you’re showing the other students that good behaviour is rewarded with attention from the teacher. Eventually, most naughty students will get fed up of being ignored and settle down by themselves.
Want more on keeping your students well behaved? Classroom Management in a Nutshell
Team Up On Them
Even in a class with several naughty students, there is usually a ringleader. Chances are, you’ll have other students in the class who find their behaviour just as bothersome as you do. A good way to silence a ringleader is to put the students into teams, awarding points for good behaviour and taking away points for naughty behaviour. Offer a prize to the team with the most points, or perhaps a forfeit (such as extra homework or staying behind after class) for the team that doesn’t come up to scratch. When the other students in the team realise that the naughty child is going to be their undoing, they’ll soon be persuading the ringleader to buck up their ideas!
And we have lots more on classroom management here.
Reason With Them
It may not seem like it when they are being little monsters, but kids and teenagers are humans too. If you have a student who won’t pitch in, why not try reasoning with them? Ask them why they’re acting up – Are they bored? Are the lessons too easy or difficult for them? If you teach at a private language school (where tuition fees are likely to be high) you could reason with them that by not behaving in class they are wasting their parents’ money. Mentioning this (and also the possibility of speaking to the parents if the poor behaviour continues) may be enough to encourage good behaviour, particularly in Asian countries such as Japan and China where ‘losing face’ would be the ultimate punishment. Remember to take the student to one side and not admonish them in front of their peers – you’re likely to get a more honest response if you talk to them in private.
Looking for more ways to get the most out of your students? We’ve got you covered on our Teaching Tips blog.
About the Author
Celia Jenkins is a veteran ESL teacher and freelancer writer.