As a teacher, you are faced with various challenges daily. One of those can be dealing with disrespectful students. How do you respond to them? This post will discuss the different ways teachers should respond when they encounter disrespect from their students. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and all educators need to find what works best for them and their classroom culture. For some, ignoring the behavior may work best as long as it does not continue; others might need to take more drastic measures, such as sending that student out of class or having an informal conference with parents/guardians to get them back on track. The key is knowing your strengths and weaknesses so that you know how much (or how little) action is needed in handling a disrespectful student.
What Constitute Disrespectful Behavior?
Disrespectful behavior in the classroom can be verbal or nonverbal. Verbal examples of disrespectful behavior include negative statements, arguing with teachers’ instructions, not following directions, and using sarcasm. Nonverbal examples of disrespectful behavior include rolling eyes, giving a teacher “the finger,” lying on the carpet during carpet time, and making faces behind a teacher’s back.
Disrespectful behavior can be categorized as:
-verbal (negative statements, arguing with teacher’s instructions, not following directions, and using sarcasm)
-nonverbal (rolling eyes, giving a teacher “the finger,” lying on the carpet during carpet time, and making faces behind a teacher’s back).
Why Are Students Disrespectful?
I’m a teacher who has been in the trenches for over thirty years. You might ask, “What trenches?” You would be surprised how much disrespect there is in our schools right now. I think that students are disrespectful because they lack proper role models, parents and administrators don’t know what to do when kids act up, and bullying is a big problem in schools.
First, kids lack proper role models in this day and age. They have too much time on their hands to watch TV shows that are all about being disrespectful. On certain cartoons, they have characters that talk back to adults and get away with it. In addition, some parents don’t know how to teach their kids to respect adults. As a result, children grow up with no sense of how to act or speak to people who have authority over them.
Second, when there is a problem in the schools, whether it be bullying or just general misbehavior, administrators don’t know what they are supposed to do. In addition to being role models, principals and other administrators are supposed to be enforcers. However, a lot of them just don’t know how to enforce consequences for misbehavior.
Finally, kids have all kinds of issues with bullying in public schools today. It’s no secret that many school bullies get off scot-free because there are no consequences for their actions. However, this is wrong, and it leads to the kids who are bullied having more issues with self-esteem and other problems.
I am writing this article because of my experiences in the trenches as a teacher. We need more role models, administrators who can enforce rules, and consequences for school bullies. If we don’t improve these things, then I think that school will just continue to be a place of disrespect.
If you want to stop the wave of disrespectful students in our schools right now, please share this article with your friends and family so they can help us improve student behavior at school!
20 Ways to respond to a disrespectful student
What do you do when a student calls you a “stupid old hag?” Or fails to complete an assignment that was due last week? How about if they begin to throw paper airplanes across the room or take off their shoes and start throwing them at other students?
These are the types of situations many teachers face daily. Luckily, there are many ways to respond to disrespectful students that don’t involve throwing them out of the classroom or sending them to the principal’s office. Below is a list of 20 effective strategies for dealing with difficult students:
1. Understand the student’s perspective
Remember that a student is not going out of his or her way to be disrespectful. It may help you understand the situation better if you take a step back and consider the angst and frustration they may be feeling before responding. Be empathetic. Remind yourself that you are dealing with children who may be going through difficult transition stages at home, in school, and with friends.
2. Consider your feelings and how you would like to be treated
It is important to look at the situation from a few different angles. This may help you manage your feelings and reactions before you respond. Would you want someone speaking to you like this? How would it make you feel if someone else treated your mother or father in this way?
3. Make a plan for what you will say and do in this situation, such as saying “I can see that you are upset” or “I want us to work together on this problem.”
Planning for a response to a student who is being disrespectful can help you keep your cool during an intense situation. It may also prevent the teacher from making snap decisions that they will later regret.
In some cases, it may be best to ignore the student’s negative comments or actions to de-escalate the situation. If you respond in a certain way, what is the risk of escalating it? This can be helpful when trying to manage emotional students.
4. Prepare yourself by practicing with someone else before trying it out with the student
Practicing in front of a mirror, with your family or friends, is an effective way to prepare yourself. You may want to role-play how you will respond when they call out answers in class, make fun of another student’s work, or refuse to complete their homework. By practicing ahead of time, you can feel more confident about your plan when the student is actually in front of you.
5. Keep calm and don’t yell back at them; if they continue to act disrespectful, end the conversation by calmly telling them that you need to get back to work
In some cases, the student’s comment may be a result of him or her becoming impatient while waiting for more information. By keeping calm and not yelling back, you can help prevent a greater issue from happening. If they continue to act out, calmly tell them that you need to get back to work and wish them a good day. End the conversation.
6. If it continues after multiple conversations, bring up the issue with their parents or other school staff member,s such as a school administrator or counselor
In some cases, a student’s disrespectful behavior may be the result of home life. Being able to discuss your concerns with other adults in a safe environment can help ensure that everyone involved understands what is going on and agrees to work together to resolve the issue.
7. Consequences should fit the behavior and not appear to be “payback” for other issues in the class, etc.
Be sure to have consequences that are appropriate for the disrespectful behavior. For example, if a student rolls his eyes at you, calling him out in front of everyone may not be an effective consequence. It might be more effective to remind him about eye contact during future conversations or assign extra homework.
If you decided that a student needs to stay after school for being disrespectful, then do not allow him or her to leave. If you said they would receive a zero on the next test, be sure to give it to them and explain why. It may help them learn from their mistakes if the consequences are fair and consistent.
8. Be aware of your nonverbal actions, such as rolling your eyes or sighing loudly — these can show you don’t take the student seriously
Nonverbal communication can send a strong message to the student about how you feel about them or their behavior. Being aware of your actions will help prevent any misunderstandings that could result in further issues.
9. Address disrespectful language by stating, “Please do not use language like that when you are talking about your schoolwork”
If a student does not understand that their choice of words is disrespectful, ask them to repeat what they said using more appropriate language. If the student repeats the comment, it’s important to remind them that you expect them to have more respect when talking about schoolwork.
Stop class if necessary and tell them to go back and use respectful language.
10. Teach the student what respectful behavior looks like through positive reinforcement for trying and following directions, as well as negative feedback for disruptive or disrespectful behavior.
Effective teaching means acknowledging, valuing, and respecting the student for trying their best even if it is different from your way of learning. It also means having a productive learning environment where students can be themselves without fear of being ridiculed. By offering positive reinforcement going forward you teach the student that being respectful of their classmates and the class is acceptable. It may also help to offer negative feedback when a student responds disrespectfully so they know you are paying attention and that you disapprove of it.
Be respectful yourself; if students feel like you don’t respect them, they will not likely respond well to criticism
Your ability to provide guidance and feedback to students will be heavily influenced by how they feel about you. If a student feels like you don’t respect them, they will not likely respond well to your guidance and criticism, and may instead become even more disruptive or disrespectful.
11. Be consistent in how you handle similar situations to ensure fairness
Consistency is important when it comes to discipline because it shows the student that you expect them to abide by the same rules everyone else does. Treating a student differently from how you treated another when they both acted in similar ways sends mixed messages and can make it difficult for the student to understand what is expected of her.
12. Reward students for efforts made around showing respect to teach them what works
Sometimes it may be necessary to reward students for the positive steps they make towards showing respect. This will help them understand what works and encourage them to continue on this path.
13. Keep students accountable for their actions by allowing them to take ownership of what happened and not blame others
Most discipline issues are the result of a lack of awareness or forethought. If students can be held accountable for seeing what they did wrong, it will help them become more aware and less likely to repeat such behavior in the future.
This also prevents placing blame on others; when this happens, both parties may feel resentful and unwilling to cooperate to solve the problem.
14. Be empathetic; understand that many times issues with behavior are due to underlying problems the student may be struggling with, such as anxiety or ADHD, and work with the student and parents to address these issues in a positive way
Empathy can be really helpful to address behavior problems in students. Disruptive or disrespectful behavior is often due to underlying issues such as anxiety or ADHD which may not be easily seen. By working collaboratively with the student and their parent/guardian, it may be possible to resolve the problem and provide a more positive learning environment.
15. Connect with other teachers in your building who may share similar experiences so that you can better work together as a team to resolve these types of situations
We all know that it is a lot easier to do something as a group than on our own. By sharing your experiences with other teachers, you can both help yourselves by providing support and ensuring the safety of students in your building.
16. Focus on the “why” and what is underneath the disrespectful behavior so that you have a better understanding of its root cause
Disruptive and uncooperative behavior can sometimes be due to a lack of awareness or forethought. By allowing yourself and the student to understand more about the “why” and what is underneath the disrespectful behavior, it becomes easier for everyone involved to work on how these issues can be addressed moving forward.
17. Don’t allow this type of behavior to escalate or go unmanaged because it will likely become worse if not addressed
In most cases, when a student is showing disrespectful behavior towards you or another person around them, it will never get better on its own. In fact, in many instances, the behavior becomes worse if left unaddressed.
Remember to make sure that you are always addressing these kinds of issues with a positive mindset and respect for both the student and yourself.
To learn how to create a positive classroom environment, click here.
18. Know when to consult with a school administrator or counselor for the next steps for your student
Sometimes it can be difficult to know when you should address behavior issues with your school’s administration or counselor. Knowing the best option for your student is key!
Disruptive behavior in an educational setting needs to be addressed immediately, especially if what the student is doing could be harmful to themselves or another person. We suggest consulting with a school administrator or counselor for the next steps.
19. Review the school board’s policy on handling disrespectful behavior to determine if there are any punishments outlined. Normally, the first step is to address an incident verbally and then escalate it to other staff members depending on how the situation turns out. It also could be that talking with the parent/guardian is enough to get the student back on track.
It is important to be aware of a school board’s policy on handling disruptive behavior. If a student shows disrespectful behavior towards you or another staff member, it is important to speak with them immediately and follow through depending upon how the situation turns out. You may need to escalate the matter to other staff members if necessary, but talking with the parent/guardian may be enough to get the student back on track.
20. If a disrespectful action is serious and warrants it, suspension from school could be in order depending upon the severity of the incident and how well you work with your school’s administration
If a disrespectful action is serious and warrants it, suspension from school could be in order depending upon the severity of the incident and how well you work with your school’s administration.