Handling Challenging Behavior In The Classroom

Little boy about to pull little girl's braid in class

As a new teacher it is critical to establish an environment that is conducive to learning. There will be times when students exhibit challenging behaviors, and it is important to know how to handle those situations when they arise. Here are some ways to handle those situations.

Positive Correction

As a teacher, it is really important to build positive relationships with your students. Yelling and shouting at students is not a positive discipline tactic and will have a negative effect of the student and will even lead to the student shouting back. If you handle every situation with respect and encouraging behavior, the students will have a similar response. Students follow the behaviors of their teachers. You are the role model and they will follow your actions.


The best way to ensure that there is a minimal amount of challenging behavior in the classroom, is to set a classroom environment that prevents it. This requires you as the teacher to set expectations for classroom behavior. Set expectations at the beginning of the year and the students are most likely to follow those expectations, and you can refer to them throughout the year. It is harder to set boundaries in the middle of the year than it is in the beginning of the year. Encourage the students to create classroom norms and have them write them down somewhere that they will be able to refer back to at any given time. By engaging them in creating these boundaries and expectations, they are more likely to focus on learning.

Catch-em Being Good

Rather than calling them out when they are not focused on learning, praise them for demonstrating positive traits. For example, you may state: “Thank you to those of you who are cooperating with your classmates in finishing the poster for the science project. You are showing me that you are serious about learning! Well done!” You’ll be amazed at how quickly those who may be slacking, improve their behavior and focus on the task.

Be Assertive

Being an assertive teacher means that you set clear boundaries and adapt to every situation as it comes, not by using dominance. Have control of the classroom by setting expectations, but not demanding respect, but rather earning it.

To learn more about Grand Canyon University’s College of Education and how it can help you impact the lives of students, visit our website or click the Request More Information button on this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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