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Classroom Management to Deal with Problematic Students

Janelle Cox

A problematic student can be stressful to deal with, especially when they interrupt your classroom. The challenge is to figure out how to use classroom management to deal with these students so that it doesn’t affect the other students in your class. Usually problematic students fall into two categories; the class clown and the stressed-out student. Here we will take a closer look at both of these types of students, and how you can use classroom management to deal with them.

Types of Problematic Students and How to Use Classroom Management to Deal with Them

Students act out in class for various reasons, from wanting the attention of their peers or teacher to being bored or having to deal with stresses in their lives. Usually these types of students fall into the categories below.

The Class Clown

These students will do anything for attention. They will interrupt you in class, bother their peers, or be downright disrespectful. Their goal is to make their presence known, and they will usually do anything to make that happen. Sometimes it’s out of boredom and other times it’s out of the sheer fact that they just want attention. They will do whatever it takes to get a laugh, even if that means at the expense of others.

What to Do: If the student is looking for attention, then give it them. These types of students can benefit from a leadership role. Put them in charge of a small group or assign them to reteach a concept that they know a lot about.

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If you find that they are acting out because of boredom, then you may need to rethink your lessons to be more challenging for them. You can also try giving them a choice board where they can choose their own tasks.

The Stressed-Out Student

This type of student is dealing with issues that are either from school or from home. They look tired and usually either keep to themselves or they act out. If they act out, they are usually aggressive and stubborn. Unfortunately, you will not know the reasoning until you take the time to ask them.

What to Do: If you see that they student looks stressed out then the first thing that you have to do is figure out what is causing the stress. If it’s something in their home life that is out of their control, then you can refer them to the guidance counselor or take some time to let them know that you are there to listen and support them.

If the student is stressed out over their workload in school, or an upcoming test, then you can help them figure out a few strategies to decrease this stress. Reassure the student that you support them and teach them how to deal with the stress, and apply stress-management techniques. Using mindful meditation such as living in the moment and breathing deeply can help calm their nerves. You can also teach them a few quick yoga poses or teach them the how the effects of eating healthy and exercising can help decrease their stress level.

Being a Supportive Teacher

When dealing with problematic students, you need to remind yourself that they are human. These children are dealing with emotions that are sometimes out of their control. It’s up to you to take the time to figure out why they are acting out. The two-by-ten strategy has been known to be an effective way to support students, while at the same time allowing you to create a deeper connection with the student. The way it works is that you take two minutes out of your day to speak with the student (about anything) for ten consecutive days in a row. The goal is that while speaking to the student you will build a rapport and a connection that will not only allow you to find out why they are acting the way they are acting, but it will give the student a sense of support as well.

Handling problematic students will take some time. The goal is to first figure out the behavior then you can try the strategies above to correct it. If you notice a difference in behavior, then you know that you are on the right track. If you do not notice a difference, then it’s time to move on to a new strategy.

How do you deal with problematic students in your classroom? Do you have any classroom management tips or thoughts that you would like to share? Please share your responses in the comment section below, we would love to hear from you.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Skyword. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.