If you pay attention to what is happening in classrooms around the globe (and it doesn’t matter if it’s in the urban area, or the city, private or public institution) – children are behaving in a very similar way and disrespecting a teacher is generally a big problem. In this article we will cover:
- Why do students disrespect their teachers?
- What are some examples of disrespectful behaviour in the classroom?
- How to handle misbehaving students
- How to respond to a disrespectful student
- How do you talk to parents about their child’s misbehaviour
- What to do with excessive talking in the classroom
- How manners are different from respect
So, why do students disrespect their teachers? And the answer to this is (you wouldn’t believe it) – “They don’t!” They absolutely respect you but there is something out there that teaches them to behave this way.
If you give me a few minutes of your attention, I will prove to you that disrespectful behaviour has nothing to do with either you or the student. Of course, there are exceptions and bad student-teacher relationships, but in the majority of situations – this is not the case.
Number one teacher in your student’s life. Yes, yes I know, I should have mentioned parents, but in this fast-paced life that we have now, parents don’t really spend much time with their kids and leave them at the mercy of other people (teachers, nannies, less busy family members) and media (TV, YouTube, etc).
Have you ever heard the phrase: “Monkey see, monkey do…” This applies to our kids in a big way. If they see a child shouting at their parent or teacher on TV, be sure they will repeat it in real life!
Solutions for parents?
- Carefully selecting which TV shows you are allowing kids to watch (check Common Sense Media for ratings and reviews)
- Pay attention to what other members of your family or nannies are allowing them to watch.
- Make your child aware of behaviour changes after a certain TV show.
Solution for teachers?
- Don’t take it personally; it’s not your fault.
- Try to understand the media situation and just have fun with it. Make a whole class joke about it until the child starts laughing or gets embarrassed about his or her behaviour.
- If the child is persistent about acting rudely towards you, find higher authorities to talk to them.
2. Books (believe it or not)
If your child is one of those rare people that actually enjoys reading books, beware of improper messages within those pages that seem so innocent and make us so proud when our child reads them!
Solution: Let your child’s behaviour to be a clue to what messages he is receiving. Adjust his or her reading selection accordingly.
3. Peer pressure
Kids like to have games – they like to get you to do the most horrible things to be able to “win their friendship”! They do it for fun and they know that your child will probably never be their friend anyway, but your child doesn’t know that.
Unfortunately, your child feels really lonely in this scary “almost adult” world and they might actually go for it! Whether it’s a rude comment to a teacher or punching some quiet child, be aware that those things are happening and your child may fall a victim to this kind of pressure from his or her peers.
Solution for parents:
- Give your child a little bit more attention. He or she may seem that they don’t want any attention, but they do!
- Don’t let them get away with harassing you or putting you down! If you lose authority in their life they will go out and find another one…
Solution for teachers:
- Try understanding the situation and again, don’t take it personally.
- If you have time and find some kindness within you to do so, you can actually “lend a helping hand of friendship” to a child like that.
4. Boring subject
Whether you like it or not, the subject of whatever you are teaching can be quite uninteresting to your students. Unfortunately, there is not much that you can do about that.
If you know your subject well and you made your lectures quite interesting for kids – that means you gave it your best shot! If kids in the class are not responding to your lessons or are bored, they will start trying to entertain themselves or falling asleep.
The brain starts going into sleeping or resting mode usually for two reasons:
- It doesn’t like the subject
- It doesn’t understand the subject
If no one is responding or learning properly from your lessons, you can really do only two things in order not to go crazy:
- Start having fun with it and put on a hell of a show!
- Start teaching another subject.
What are some examples of disrespectful behaviour in the classroom?
Well, there are quite a few, but try not to judge anybody right away. You may notice that sometimes one child is “dragging” another one “down the hill” with them and if you “step in” and provide some security to the weaker person, they may actually end up being your best student!
Some examples of disrespectful behaviour include:
- Yelling across the room.
- Arguing with a teacher.
- Interrupting the class (not letting a teacher work).
- Not responding to a teacher
- Talking to a teacher as to a peer
- Yawning (or actually sleeping during the class)
- Chatting with each other or online
- Eating during lesson
How to handle misbehaving students? The solution to all kinds of student disrespectful behaviour problems is quite simple:
- Know your rights as an authority in the classroom and defend them.
- If nothing works, call a higher authority to explain this to the kids.
But in real life, things are more complex and stressful. In order to be at peace with the beautiful profession that you chose for yourself as a teacher, there is one thing that is very important to know about. Consciously or unconsciously, by behaving in a certain way, children are “sending messages” to you or each other!
They want attention, appreciation, and love (well… just like we all do). So what are those messages?
- Yawning – “Please teacher, make a joke, and get my attention!”
- Yelling – “Look at me, I am the boss here!”
- Arguing – “Look, this adult is weaker than me!”
- Chatting with friends – “Look, I am a grown-up and I can do what I want!”
- Eating during the lesson – “My needs come first!”
Here are some useful tips to help with children that don’t listen:
- Children will try to discover and push their boundaries. This is why you shouldn’t let emotions get in the way when you talk to a child. Stay calm. The person who gets emotional first will lose control over the situation.
- Set up penalties.
- Control where children sit.
- Control when they can enter a classroom.
- Talk to their parents.
- Call principle.
Now, going back to the “Monkey see, monkey do” part… Here is a list of disrespectful behaviour in adults:
- Raising voice or yelling
- Cutting a person off while they speak
- Offensive humour
- Laughing or ridiculing a person behind his or her back
- Bringing people “down”, so they feel worthless
- Trying to pay attention to the TV while a person is speaking (also FaceBook on your phone or video game).
What adults are trying to say with their behaviour is a bit more depressing than a children’s version. With our behaviour, we are actually telling other people: “We don’t love or care about them”.
Compare that to a child’s behaviour, who just wants to get attention from his or her peers!
So, my point is this. Every single time we see a child doing something like this; we generally should feel guilty about behaving in this very similar way.
How to respond to a disrespectful student? First of all, never forget “who is the boss here!” Yes, they may try to challenge your authority, but kids at home do that as well…
We understand that this is a phase that all young people are going through and we do our best to kindly explain it to them without giving up authority. The same applies to students.
They are pushing you to “the edge”, in order to see if you “break” or not. But think about it, if you are really not strong enough to hold on to what you believe in, how you see the world and who you are, how can they ever rely on you?
In life, we all get people that try to bring us down for one reason or another! Many sales pitches out there use exactly the same technique for making people feel guilty and small, therefore giving themselves an edge over the person.
If you ever get angry, try to realize, there is somebody (either adult or child) who is “pulling your strings” and therefore, eventually will get whatever he or she wants from you.
These “miniature adults” live in a “miniature adult world” and their world is no different than ours. They do pretty much exact same things as we do with other people and we cannot really blame them for following an example that we set for them ourselves!
If it’s a verbal offence, there are basically two great responses to that:
- Ignore it. If you feel the child just wants the attention of the class, try smiling and ignoring the comment long enough, so the child gives up.
- Make fun of it. If you feel enough strength within you, just go ahead and joke about it. If a student is trying to outsmart you, put them in front of a class and let him or her teach! Try to enjoy it and come up with smart ways to entertain yourself and your class.
If it’s’ a physical offence, call security.
If it’s a disruption of the class that you can no longer control, call higher authority.
If it’s a child’s horrible attitude in general, you can try calling a child’s parents. But if you find out that parents may actually be a source of this particular problem (since they started to yell at you as well, for example), just do your job and move on.
By this, I mean: “Don’t worry about it.” If you had enough kindness in your heart to contact students’ parents and explained your concern (regardless of how they reacted), they now know what is going on in school and may actually do something about it at home.
How to handle all this pressure? You want to help people by educating them, right? So, find a student that actually likes you and needs you! Isn’t this why you chose to be a teacher?
There are people out there that will appreciate the knowledge you give them. They are the whole purpose and your mission here on Earth.
They are somebody we can share our knowledge and experience with…
Don’t waste your energy on those who don’t want it or need it!
So how do you talk to parents about their child’s misbehaviour? Here are some tips:
- Call parents as soon as you can. If you can get the story out before your student will, there is a chance that they will believe you.
- Do not e-mail, make a phone call. E-mails take too long and they are not very convincing.
- If parents get angry at you, let them vent. No one wants to have their child mistreated and if your student got to them first, he or she may convince them that you are the guilty party.
- Don’t take much of parents’ time. Tell them that you care very much for this child and this is why you are calling. Explain how their child behaved and what possible consequences for this behaviour are. Don’t forget that your student is a human and not a chair that they can fix overnight! It takes time and skills, but sometimes parents themselves need to be educated on how to communicate messages to their own kids, so they will listen to them. They may not have the needed skills, and there is nothing you can do about it. You cared enough to call them and explained the situation. Offered your helping hand if they have any questions, and that’s pretty much all you can really do. At this point you did everything you could, so take it easy and go spend time with your own family. They are the first people in your life that need you the most!
What to do with excessive talking in the classroom? Just yell: “Sex” and you will get their attention. But really, try combining your information with whatever is REALLY interesting to students of this particular age group and have fun with it! If it’s too difficult or doesn’t really make any sense to you, here are some other tips to consider:
- Don’t just lecture; involve your students in the process! Let them participate! Ask to do hand gestures, to get up and maybe even to dance! When everyone is having fun, you will find out that they will start paying attention to you in order to find out what in the world you are going to ask them next!
- Ask questions and get answers from students. Again, participation! Not all questions have to be on-topic. If you are explaining about the human digestive system, you may ask a student what they had for lunch today.
- Break your lecture or lesson down into parts. Learning in parts is much easier and you can build your relationship with students in between.
- Do your students like talking to each other? Great! Ask them to teach each other a certain subject and see how it goes. There should be lots of jokes and humour involved. You can even penalize the ones, whose lessons are not funny!
- Break a lesson down with a short video clip. Maybe students are bored of listening to you or you just don’t have enough energy to keep up with them. It happens, so let carefully selected educational videos do some work for you.
And for God’s sake, have fun with your students! If you are not having fun during your lessons, no one else will as well…
How to deal with profanity in the classroom? Real question is, do you really want to deal with it? Profanity is everywhere. This is just how people like to express themselves (usually because of limited vocabulary, nothing better comes to people’s minds in a moment of high pressure or excitement).
This is what we learn early on from family members and then peers. It’s a certain type of language and there is not much that you can really do about it. If you would like to avoid this type of language at a certain level, here are a few tips:
- Don’t let them approach you talking like this. This is a stand you make and make sure you are consistent about it. Explain that if they like to use this language talking to each other, that’s fine, but not everyone enjoys it. If a student doesn’t want to accept that, do not respond to whatever they ask until they approach you properly.
- Clarify with a child which words you consider appropriate for the situation and which are inappropriate. Again, be consistent with your choices.
- If your students curse too much, explain to them what the real purpose of this language is and what are they actually saying to each other. Believe it or not, they may not be actually aware of this… They just repeat what adults say because they want to grow up fast and this looks like a key element to growing up.
- Have fun with it and convert curse words into “real meaning” words! Say: “If you keep on always saying “poop”, you are going to end up smelling like one!”
So here is a bottom line, set up an example of the desired behaviour and be consistent with it.
How manners are different from respect? Easy! Manners you can fake, respect you cannot! Even though we want our kids to have good manners, we need to realize that we might be setting them up to be good fakers. In reality, it’s even good that kids are so open that they will show if you won their respect or not.
Don’t worry if you didn’t. That’d don’t make you a bad person or teacher. That can simply mean that students’ standards for respect are upside down.
If you really like a certain student, you can step in as a teacher with your knowledge and experience to show exactly what are they going through and why are they behaving in a certain way. Sometimes it will help, and many times it will not, but you can now be “free at heart” and know that you doing all you can at being the best teacher you can be!
Attention! All articles are for informational purposes ONLY and they are NOT a subsittue for a professional advice! The goal of this website is to provide readers with high-quality reviews of children’s books, which are our opinion only and no sponsorship from anybody is involved.
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