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Managing Inappropriate Behavior

Most students come to college with fears and uncertainty. Whether they are right out of high school or returning to college after a decade or more in the workplace, students fear failing tests, not fitting in with peers, and appearing ignorant in front of their classmates. Being afraid to ask questions, express opinions, or join group discussions can greatly hinder a student's learning.

But you can create an environment that nurtures their confidence and allows them to explore and expand their knowledge without undue risk or fear. You can ensure that the classroom environment supports your safety by being aware of your campus emergency resources. You can also have a very strong impact on the tone of the classroom by employing simple classroom management techniques from the first day and being consistent with your classroom policies. Finally, you can help develop your students' sense of integrity, social responsibility, and professionalism through the College's student conduct and academic integrity policies.

3-step process for responding to campus disruption:

1. For minor disruption: ask student to stop the behavior

2. For repeated disruption that interferes with ability to maintain learning or business environment: tell student to leave the classroom/area for the day

3. For any threatening language or behavior, direct or indirect, or if student does not respond to direction to leave classroom/area:

Tips for Classroom Management

  • Don't tolerate the behaviors, but don't take the behavior personally.
  • Stick to your syllabus and class policies.
    You might want to add a section to your syllabus about appropriate classroom behavior.
  • Keep in mind that some behaviors are annoying, but usually harmless.
    Realize that in many cases, it's a maturity issue or a lack of academic preparation / socialization.
  • Realize that everybody learns differently and this student will either get the material his or her own way, or not finish out the semester.
  • Remind students that this is a class of thirty-five people, not just one.
    "I have the same rules for everyone"
  • Pull them aside out of class and talk with them.
  • Counsel the student on the benefits of discontinuing the behavior.
    This phrasing may be helpful. (You can insert other annoying behaviors here.)  "I understand that you have a lot to say, but your constant talking is disrupting the class for the other students.  I don't want to have to separate you, but I will if necessary."
  • Talk with colleagues for ideas.
  • Keep a clear line of communication with your Lead Instructor or Department Chair if you are concerned.
  • Document the meetings you have with your students and make reports to Student Conduct for consistent behavior problems.

Documents and online resources

Behavioral Issues in the Classroom - A guide to addressing disruptive behavior in the classroom and resources for contacting the CSCC BIT/TAT teams.

Best Practices in Classroom Management by Christopher Dunbar, College of Education, Michigan State University, October 2004

Conscious Classroom Management: Unlocking the Secrets to Great Teaching by Martha Allen and Rick Smith

Reality Check: High School Teachers vs. College Professors - A guide to the differences between teaching and learning in high school and college.  

Teacher classroom management practices: effects on disruptive or aggressive student behavior  by Regina M. Oliver, Joseph H. Wehby, Daniel J. Reschly (Campbell Systematic Reviews, June 2011)