Teaching can be an enjoyable but tasking job. Having difficult students to deal with, however, can make it more tasking. In every classroom, there is always at least, one difficult student to deal with. A student is not only difficult in behaviour but can also be difficult in terms of academic performance. To make teaching more enjoyable and to be successful, teachers need to find ways of dealing with difficult students in their classes. In the following lines, ways of dealing with difficult students are highlighted.
Be in connection with the parents. Connecting with the parents of difficult students from time to time is one of the best ways to deal with difficult students. This will help the teacher to know how the students behave at home, what is going on in their homes and it will also help the parents to keep tabs on all the students’ activities in school. If a teacher knows what goes on in a student’s home, he/she will be able to understand why such student behaves in the way he/she behaves in school. The teacher will also be able to deal with the student, based on background knowledge. Sometimes, if a student knows that the teacher is going to talk to the parents about what he/she does in school, the student may want to behave well in class so as to have a clean record or not disappoint the parents.
Another way of dealing with difficult students is to let there be a set boundary in order to minimise negative actions. Let the student know that there is a particular boundary between him/her and everyone else in the classroom. Also, let there be a close distance between the teacher and the student during class activities. The teacher can place the student closest to him/her or even stand close to the student’s seat and let the student know the consequences of misbehaviour. This will curb negative behaviours.
Choose the best time to discipline. It is not always right to discipline students in front of others or when the lesson is going on. The teacher can do this after the class activities or in private. This could help the students to have a sense of remorse.
Attacking a difficult student is a wrong approach. Dealing respectfully with disrespectful students is a good way of getting through to their consciences. This will instil in them the virtue of respect.
Complaints from a difficult student should not be brushed aside. The teacher should take time to consider the complaints as they might also help in planning the next lesson.
Teachers should empathise with difficult students regardless of the fact that they are difficult. Ask students how they feel emotionally, psychologically or health-wise, which may be the reason for misbehaviour. Try to find out what is going on with them and let them understand that you have been in their shoes before or you know of someone who had been in their shoes before and is now doing fine.
Create a relationship with the students and see them come around. Students enjoy it when they feel loved or cared for by their teachers. Let them know how important they are to you, in the classroom and how they are going to be missed if you don’t see them in school again. Motivate them to do the right things, cheer them when they do the right things and let other students do that too. Let them see that you are interested in their well being and will be disappointed if they don’t behave well.
Make them feel accepted and safe emotionally, psychologically, and intellectually. Avoid embarrassing them when they misbehave in the classroom. Rather, make them understand that there is a punishment for whatever bad behaviour that they have exhibited, which will not be meted out to them in the class while the lesson is going on but after the lesson.
Make them have a sense of responsibility by giving them specific tasks or duties to carry out during the lesson. For instance, ask one of them to wipe off the notes on the board, or get a paper on which to write the names of students in each group in the classroom. The teacher can also make them group leaders or ask them to be involved in peer teaching. Let them know that you are scoring their performances and also act like you are enjoying their presentation even if you are not. This could make them want to become better at impressing the teacher.
Don’t give up on them. Never get tired of dealing with difficult students and don’t use words like, ‘I’m just tired of you’ or ‘what do you want me to do with you now?’ Show them that no matter what, you are not giving up on them. You are interested in them and you will like to see them become better.
Difficult students are often the ones with hidden potentials, be it academic or otherwise. Dealing with difficult students can also help teachers to imbibe the virtues of self-control and patience as these will be needed in great measures while dealing with them. Using the tips discussed in this article as teachers, can help get through to the difficult students and bring out the best in them.