sleeping in class February 13

Disruptive Students: Personality Styles and Recommended Responses

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In a perfect world, college students would always be eager, well disciplined, and respectful.

In the real world, some students come to class late, miss deadlines, or fall asleep during lectures. Others monopolize class time, make insulting or abusive comments, and even physically threaten or intimidate other students and professors.

In extreme incidents, there is even the occasional student who poses a dangerous risk to the entire community.

A supplement to the Coping with Seven Disruptive Personality Types in the Classroom whitepaper, this quick reference guide explains how to recognize typical styles of troublesome behavior and exactly what to do in response.

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disruptive students February 5

Coping with Seven Disruptive Personality Types in the Classroom

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The typical college professor is bound to run into his or her share of difficult students during the course of an academic career. Some students create nuisances by engaging in annoying behavior, such as interfering with classroom proceedings, making irrelevant comments, and causing noisy interruptions. They may turn assignments in late, disregard the course expectations, and insist on special treatment for themselves. Other students, however, may pose a very real threat to the safety of the professor and fellow students.

Relatively few college professors are trained in how to recognize and respond effectively to these challenging or threatening behaviors. Sometimes, faculty will have difficulty distinguishing between a student who is a mere nuisance and a student who poses a very real threat to the community. It is comforting to know that many of the most difficult and disruptive encounters with students tend to fall into predictable, known categories.

This white paper will help you to set enforceable standards, expectations, and boundaries flexibly with students, depending on the exhibited personality style.

After reading this white paper, you will know how to better manage passive-aggressive behaviors such as sleeping in class, lateness, and procrastination. You will learn essential principles regarding the value of collaborating with on-campus resources to resolve disruptive crises. This white paper also provides guidance to help professors know whether and when they need to report certain disruptive incidents.

Perhaps most important, this report provides the guidance necessary to help instructors and administrators recognize “red flags” that portend physical risk when dealing with potentially dangerous students.

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October 8, 2012

Classroom Management Tips for Regaining Control of the Classroom

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Losing control of the classroom can be one of the most frustrating and intimidating experiences for both new and experienced teachers. Losing control can happen in several different ways. The most common would be where the class is distracted. This could be from a situation outside the classroom such as noisy conversation in the hall, or from an event elsewhere that students find out about, such as a rumor of the football coach getting fired. Losing control can also happen within the classroom, such as when one student monopolizes the discussion, or where there is a general lack of interest in the lecture, and many students are obviously not paying attention. Here are nine possible ways to regain students’ attention.


June 4, 2012

Dealing with Difficult Students and Other Classroom Disruptions

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Problem students come in all forms, and may be “difficult” for wide variety of behaviors. While it’s impossible to create neat little categories that adequately describe the full range of problems encountered by college faculty, a good starting point may be to classify the behaviors as annoying, disruptive, or dangerous. Each requires a different type of response based on the context of the behavior.




March 26, 2010

Four Tips for Dealing with Difficult Students

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Managing students who are disruptive, those who lack motivation and appear as though they would rather be any place than in the classroom, is easier when faculty take the right stance. Anything is possible when faculty have faith in the students they teach. Learning starts with a dedicated teacher interested in meeting the challenge of how to present content in a way that successfully navigates the barriers students erect.


March 8, 2010

Recognizing and Managing Student Aggression

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Consider the following scenario: A student, clearly upset about receiving a failing grade on the midterm, comes up to you after class and says he wants to retake it. You reply that, as stated in the syllabus, there are no make-up exams. You also remind him of his spotty attendance record. He becomes angry, knocks your papers off the front table, and yells “You’re a terrible professor! The whole class hates you!”


January 29, 2010

Conditions Associated with Classroom Conflict

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Students can and do regularly disrupt the classroom. Sometimes they are openly hostile, challenging the teacher’s authority and objecting to course requirements and classroom policies. More often, the conflict grows out of their inattentiveness and passivity. They arrive late, leave early, talk during class, and don’t even bother to hide their boredom.


August 4, 2009

The Department Chair’s Role in Dealing with Disruptive Students

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Most professors will have to deal with classroom disruptions at some point, from the relatively minor—students who show up for class late or who talk excessively—to the more serious—disrespectful, uncivil, or threatening student behavior. It’s the role of the department chair to create a culture that helps prevent and deal with disruptive behavior effectively.