Tuesday, July 6, 2021


Part Three of the Series Just for New Teachers

How to Successfully Support Difficult and Challenging Students

In an effort to help new teachers as classrooms are again filled with students as the pandemic crisis is beginning to abate, I've included some of the slides from one of my seminars designed to help teachers support difficult and challenging students. In Part Three, I want new teachers to look at some of the things that research tells us about students who as challenging and difficult. While drawing generalizations is not always the best way to approach any problem, the generalizations here may make it easier for you to see a student who may be disruptive and unruly in a different light--and thus make it possible for you to help that student succeed.

If you've ever seen a student who misbehaves in your classroom behave well in another teacher's class, the truth of this slide is self-evident. When you can view all of your students in a positive and friendly manner, then you are on the way to solving any behavior issues that may arise. Keep in mind that difficult students tend to have big chips on their shoulders and often do their best to create those negative feelings that they are all too accustomed to from the adults that interact with them. 

Of course, this is all too obvious. When students have work to do that they find interesting and manageable, they tend to focus on it instead of creating classroom chaos. Do your best to figure out the learning styles and learning needs of your students and design instruction that can make it easy for them to achieve success.

While every student should be treated with respect and dignity, it is not always easy to keep this in mind when your own teacher frustration takes over. One of the worst mistakes that any teacher can make is to cause a child to be embarrassed. When a child is humiliated in class, not only will that child find it impossible to learn, but the desire to lash out at the adult to caused that humiliation will be firmly in place. Respect the privacy of all of your students when you are dealing with discipline issues--in particular, respect the privacy of the students who need it most--those who are accustomed to causing disruptions in class.

The students in your class are far more aware of your regard for them than you may be aware. If you have students who have a long history of disruptive behavior, then you can expect that they are experts at reading your body language--constantly on the lookout for anything that indicates that you do not like or value them. Be as glad to see the students who are causing you sleepless nights with their misbehavior as you are the more compliant students in your class. 

It is not always easy to regard the troublemakers in your class as "fragile," but they are. Look beyond the tough and uncaring shells that difficult students arm themselves with to see the child who wants to succeed and be accepted.

Difficult students often act the way they do in an effort to hide their insecurities. They often lack school skills, social skills, or even basic manners. Yes, someone should have taught them these things before they were assigned to your class, but that didn't happen. It is up to you to make sure than the playing field is level. Model the courtesy and positive behaviors that you want from your students. Show them how to succeed--don't just cover the material. 

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