How To Not Get Annoyed When Your Students Misbehave Smart Classroom Management

4 min read

If you get annoyed when your students misbehave, then it’s going to lead to more misbehavior.

Even if you don’t say a word. Your sighs, facial expressions, and body language reveal all there is to know about what’s roiling inside.

Students prey upon emotionally weakened teachers like jackals on the hunt.

A harsh characterization, perhaps, but a truthful one—especially since the pandemic. Show your class they can get under your skin, and they’ll come at you from all sides and when you least expect it.

The most common form is disrespect.

But they’ll also challenge your authority, ignore your directions, and collude with others to misbehave at the same time.

The most accurate sign that your students have gotten to you is when you try to hold them accountable and they lie to you. They know they’re caught. They know they did wrong and broke the rules of the class.

But they decide to battle with you anyway. They know how deeply it affects you and wager that you’ll cave and say, “Okay, just be careful next time.” —Or some other marshmallow-soft declaration of surrender.

By then of course the floodgates have opened.

Even students who normally wouldn’t misbehave but are nonetheless hoping to impress their mates will get in on the action. Trying to enforce consequences becomes a war of wills.

“What did I dooooo?!”

“Tell me why!”

“I didn’t even do anything!”

“He didn’t do anything!”

“Oh my gosh!”

They’ll make you regret even trying. Oh, they’ll head to time-out, perhaps. But they’ll increase their disruptions. They’ll dramatically tsk and tsk in the way gen-Z kids do. They’ll get others to join in.

You may even feel as if your students are wresting control of the class from you.

So, what’s the solution?

It’s to remove all burden of misbehavior off of yourself and direct its weight fully and 100 percent onto your students. They misbehaved, not you. Ergo, you must refuse absolutely to take on any of its load, stress, or strain.

The one and only way to do this is to allow your classroom management plan to do the dirty work for you. Let it step in and be your accountability czar.

Your job is twofold:

1. Teach your plan and make sure your students know it precisely.

2. Follow it every time and as written.

The relationship between you and your classroom management plan is distant. In fact, you have very little to do with it. Once it’s taught, you just follow it. That’s it. You’re merely a referee, calling em’ like you see em’ and doing as you promised.

Likewise, student misbehavior also has little connection to you.

You’re just fulfilling your promise to protect their right to learn and enjoy being in your class. And you will, no matter what, like a mama bear protecting her cubs.

No arguing. No explaining. No bargaining, negotiating, or discussing. They misbehave or they don’t. They breach the garrison that defends teaching and learning or they don’t.

It’s all on them.

Dump all of your annoyance, frustration, and distress over misbehavior onto your classroom management plan. Let it go. It’s the most powerful and freeing (and fair) thing a teacher can do.

The lightness you’ll feel will translate into greater enjoyment of your job, better lessons, and stronger relationships with students.

Most of all, however, is that once you’ve proven that you’re just the messenger, defender exemplar, and one and only leader of the classroom, your students will become transformed. Respect and appreciation for you will blossom.

You’ll be free to focus on the good stuff. The lessons. The passion for your subject. The rapport. The humor. The laughter and the stories.

When students do misbehave, when they do cross the line, they’ll know it. They can feel it like a puppy testing an invisible fence. Shivers down the spine, a wayward plane over the sea.

And they know you’ll be right there like a drone dropping down from the sky. No anger. No sense of revenge or relish. No desire, need, or reason to battle. Just accountability.

“You have a warning because you broke rule number one.”

A turn of the heel and you’re gone.

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