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We have all had that one class. You know the one. You pray before they arrive and you pray after they leave. You have cried and cried over them and even imagined throwing things at the expensive Promethean board that cannot capture their attention. These challenging classes are the ones that we learned the most from. No one wants to teach repeater class or the kids in it, but these are the classes that make us grow as teachers.
Classes with behavior issues.

As a teacher, you have to sit down and decide what bothers you the MOST and be ready to let the rest go. You will drive yourself crazy if you try to “fix” every single thing. After a particularly bad day, I reflect on myself. Sometimes behavior issues stem from things you would not expect. For example, were you 100% ready to go? Was the lesson easy to understand? Could it have been presented better? Were the directions clear? And many times, it is not always about you. Students have bad days and so many issues at home, school is not something they are interested in. They need attention and will do anything in their power to get it- whether it is negative or positive, adult or peer.

Classes with behavior issues also teach us HOW to discipline. Blowing up and screaming in front the class could be free entertainment and if they saw you do it once, they may try to do it again and again. Embarrassing or calling out a student may lead to an argument that leads to less lesson time. Again free entertainment and no lesson? The kids see that as a win.

Solution 1: I have a set of sticky notes on my podium and some are pre-labeled because you KNOW exactly what they are going to do before they walk in. I have things like “Stop talking please,” “See me after class,” “Great job! Keep it up,” “This is your second warning. If I put another note on your desk, I will write you up.” Or “Thank you for your answer today.” Etc. They are a mix of positive and negative responses so the other students do not know if they are getting a bad note or a good note. It is quick and I do not have to stop teaching because I walk around constantly and just place the note down. If they throw it on the floor or away- write them up. No argument or discussion. It was blatant disrespect.

Solution 2: Individual conferences. Talking to a student one on one is the best way to get a much-needed result. After class or after school, talk with the student and not just about the behavior in class. Ask about sports, about family, their job. When a student sees that you care about them as a person, they will perform for you as a student.[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][bctt tweet=”When a student sees that you care about them as a person, they will perform for you as a student.”]

Solution 3: Call home early. Like the first week, but not for bad behavior. Find something great to tell the parent or guardian. Gush and go on and on about how wonderful or how impressed you were about __. If you know you are going to have problems later, find something good early. One, the parent will be excited because you called home for something great. Two, the student will see you are on their side, which you are! Three, when you have to call home for a problem, you will have established a relationship early with their parent and they will see you want their child to succeed and aren’t just calling home to complain.

Repeater/Low Classes. I hate classes that are labeled this way. It is bad for the students. Their attitude is immediately affected because they feel people see them as “dumb.” I also wish they were scheduled with other students that could lift them up and give them a fresh start rather than be with the same students again and again.

Solution 4: NEVER bring up the past. Do not talk about they should have learned this last year. Do not call them out for failing this class before, even if you taught them. It is hurtful and they all deserve a fresh start. Let it go.

Solution 5: I know this is more work on you and we know that we have plenty to do, but try new material or a different way to teach it. Apparently, last years’ teaching strategies did not work with these kids, try something new. Do you really what to hear, “We did this last time” or “She dies in the end” over and over? Find new ideas, fresh stories, and new activities. Treat them like they are new students in a new class. Why not? Maybe they will understand the concept this new way or with another story. As my principal once said, “Throw the dynamite in the water and see what happens.”

Solution 6: See Solution 3 under behavior issues. I cannot stress the importance of parental or guardian contact. It really takes a village to raise a child. And these kids are yours for most the year. Treat them like you would want your son or daughter to be treated. That is the bottom line.

[bctt tweet=”It really takes a village to raise a child. And these kids are yours for most the year. Treat them like you would want your son or daughter to be treated. That is the bottom line.”]

Challenging classes have pushed me to the breaking point as a teacher. They have made me more effective. They have pushed me to be creative and more involved in my career. I once read (I have no clue who said it) the kids that need the most love ask for it in the most unloving of ways. And it is true. Love the students you have. There is a reason why they are with you and you will see them grow and bloom in ways you never thought possible. Be thankful for them and they will be thankful for you.

[bctt tweet=”Love the students you have. “][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Alice has been teaching for fourteen years. She currently teaches English I, English III, English...

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