What should a teacher do when a student refuses to stop talking, refuses to sit down, refuses to do their classwork, refuses to leave the classroom? It’s our job to teach, to engage students, and we are told that we can’t do that if a student is not in the classroom, however; we often can not teach when the student is in the classroom.
The dilemma teachers run into is whether to focus on the class full of students who are ready to work or to focus on the student who is unable, or unwilling, to listen to teacher directives. When a class is on task and there is a student off task and disrupting the class, the teacher has questions to answer; How do I get this student back on track? Talk to the student, Ignore the student, Use proximity, Change their seat, Ask them to change their behavior or language, there are dozens of strategies teachers use every day depending on the situation.
If the student does not get back on task and continues to disrupt the class, the teacher has new questions to ask; How do I keep the other students on task, Can I still teach with the disruption, Do I need to have the student removed, did I do everything I could to keep the student in the class?
The whole time the teacher is working on behavior management they are not working on instruction. How much time should be taken away from students who want to learn and given to the disruptive student? What should a teacher do if they ask a student put something away and the student says no? Is it worth the power struggle or should the teacher give in?
New teachers are told that they have to establish rules and routines in their classroom, but how do you enforce those rules and reinforce the routines? There was a time when students would listen to teachers and disruptions were handled immediately by administrators and parents. Now, however; teachers have a larger responsibility and both administrators and parents ask the teacher if they did everything possible to help the troubled students. The problem is that to do everything possible to help the troubled student a teacher has to take more time away from instruction.
I don’t have answers to all these questions, I just have frustration that teachers aren’t given support, understanding, or respect for the fact that we are dealing with the changing of rules regarding behavior management in the classroom and at the same time we are held accountable for the education of all students. This means the ones who want to learn as well as the ones who want to disrupt the learning process.