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How a Teacher Can Stay Motivated When There are Several Students Driving You Crazy in the Class

How a Teacher Can Stay Motivated When There are Several Students Driving You Crazy in the Class

There are times when a teacher loves a class overall but there may be one or two students who just seem to want to cause chaos. This can be demoralizing when it goes on day after day.

My first suggestion is to not let a few students do this to you. As you approach your time with the class, think about all of the kids in the class that you really can’t wait to see and work with. Think about how great working with these children is going to be and have plans to work with them immediately. 

Once class begins, focus on your well-behaved students first. It’s also important to anticipate some of the ways the few students may try to be disruptive, this way you aren’t surprised. Don’t let these students see that you’re bothered by what they’re doing to the point you can’t do what you need to do.

When the few students begin to act out, have it in your mind that you’re going to be direct yet calm when dealing with them. Always frame things to the student in terms such as, “You are so much better than the way you are acting now”, or, “I have a hard time believing that you really are the kind of person who would do the kinds of things you are doing”.

Next, direct them right back to the subject material at hand. One of my biggest pieces of advice is to not spend most of your energy and attention on these students when they are being disruptive. When the students start to come around, then spend more time with them to show them that this is the proper way to get your attention. It is a delicate dance, but you can do it!

Be careful that when you discipline the students, you do it with a reluctant tone. You want those students to know that whatever it is you have to do, you are not happy about doing it because it takes away from their academic time. It also shows that you are not a vindictive person and that their behavior is not the focus of your attention. Let them see that to be the center of your attention, they just need to act right and you will welcome them into your good graces.

Finally, although it’s difficult, do your best to keep a smile on your face at all times or at least as much as possible in front of the class. There’s an old saying, “Never let them see you sweat”. If what they’re trying is not working, it’s not likely that they will continue the behavior forever. There’s a song that says “just keep smiling” and in the children’s film, Finding Nemo, Dori told Nemo’s dad to “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” So keep your head up and put a smile on your face when you deal with those students and just keep swimming!

About the Author

Larry Bell, a Citadel graduate, is a 30+ year veteran in education. Fifteen of those years were spent as a classroom teacher where he was nominated for the National Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award. As a teacher at Gar-field High School, a school with over 3,000 students speaking 36 different languages, Larry was recognized for his innovative classroom strategies that allowed his so called “Tough Kids” as well as his “Gifted and Talented” to excel!