Assalamu alaikum. I am a teacher and students these days are getting tougher to manage. I teach a group of 9-10 year olds who are distracted always, interrupt others and make it very clear their lack of interest in learning. I would really be grateful if you could give me some tips on how to manage this kind of misbehaviour since with kids these days we need to draw a line with how we stop them. We never know what they will take to heart and what their next step will be.
Wa alaikumassalam wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu
Many people find managing one child difficult, so it is understandable that one might find handling a classroom full of students even harder. Especially in today’s age, where the internet and social media have made children act as a complex combination of teenagers and adults. Obviously, the models of adults they might choose to imitate from the internet might not be ideal, to say the least.
Seeing the glitz and glam life of these “child” and “teenage” models over various media platforms makes children imitate them, hoping to find the same “luxurious” life as them. It is not really surprising to find young children, as young as four, to be dancing suggestively or lip-syncing to a provocative dialogue. To manage a classroom full of these children, you must keep these things in mind.
Children these days have very different environmental and social factors than we did growing up. Handling them with the same tactics that our teachers used on us may prove ineffective. At the same time, the educational aids and syllabi are not keeping up with everything the children are learning from other sources. So you will have to bring in new strategies and ideas to handle such children.
Now, be warned, I am not a teacher by profession and I do not know the intricacies of a classroom. My suggestions are based solely on my lessons of Child Psychology and what I have learned through my clinical experience.
1. Build a Meaningful Relationship with the Students
Now, more than ever, children need meaningful interactions with an adult. Many children come from a nuclear family with working parents – this means that they are left to their own devices (pun not intended) for the whole day. During this time, they have loads of study pressure, several coaching classes, from school to sports to phonics to extra-curricular. Yes, classes for extracurricular activities. The remaining time they get they spend with a phone that most parents buy to keep the children out of their way when they come back from a stressful day of work. Most of the aggression and disruptiveness among children come from this need to be noticed and attended to.
What can you do?
- Listen to your students
- Develop an interest in them
- Identify their strengths, weaknesses, potential and work with them
- Appreciate them
2. Take it with Humour
You need to have a sense of humour. Otherwise, there will be a chasm between you and your students. Be careful, though, you need to find a fine line between appreciating the humour behind the disruption while disciplining them at the same time. You need to establish an image as a friendly, approachable teacher, but a bit too much may make you seem like a pushover or a clown. So, correct them while acknowledging where they are coming from and even having a laugh about it.
3. Don’t Raise Your Voice
A disruptive class is just waiting for you to raise your voice and yell at them—they love it. It gives the students a chance to raise their voices and argue back. They love retelling stories about the teachers who “lost it”, especially if they know they were the ones who caused it. It is hard, but you need to keep a good head on your shoulders. Don’t give them the satisfaction of pushing you over the edge – instead, use the silent stare and a calm approach. I remember, the teacher we were most afraid of back in school never raised her voice on us, but she would give us such a disappointed look which was worse than any punishment.
4. Don’t let Your Class Know they are Affecting You
In continuation with the previous point, don’t let them know that their behaviour is affecting you and making you angry. You have to set the guidelines from the very first day. Let them know that while you allow having fun in class, you do not handle disrupters. The first one would be sent out of the class, and the second one to the principal.
5. Let the Superiors Know
If you have a difficult student or a class, let your superiors know about them. Explain the issue, how you’re handling them and even ask for advice. Warn them that there might be a visit to them during the school year or even the parents might need to get involved if the situation continues to worsen.
6. Treat Students with Respect
9-10-year-olds are practically teenagers and they really want to be treated like adults. While they do not have the resources to really do so, when you show them respect and give them responsibility making them feel like you trust them to act mature, they would. Remember they will imitate what they see. So, if you show them respect, they will respect you in return.
Now, what shouldn’t be done?
- Not communicating with the children. You need to establish rules, expectations and consequences from the start. Failing to do this will create chaos in your classroom. Children will have no idea what to expect and might see your behaviour as erratic- making them misbehave more.
- Snapping at children
- Taking out your temper/frustration on children
- Not following through – we have discussed how important establishing guidelines is. But what is worse? Not following through the punishment and rewards you promised for a particular behaviour.
In the end, all I would say to you is that you are going to be okay. You must remember that you do not have the responsibility to and cannot possibly change every student that comes under your care. It is simply not possible. There might be some issues at home or in their peer circle that you cannot change, and in such cases, it is better to let go and focus on the positives of your classroom. Do not beat yourself up over it.
May Allah ﷻ grant you strength and make this journey of imparting education easy on you. Aameen.
Written by: Arshi Dokadia
Edited by: The Editorial Team
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