Dealing with antisocial behaviour in class - for teachers; How to ignore annoying classmates - for students; Personal experience - Anastasia Boyarkina.
ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR IN CLASS
Imagine you are teaching a class of adults and you are having a discussion about gender equality. Suddenly, one of the students gets up and says that women are not suitable for government jobs because they are more emotional than men. This provokes a cry of outrage from women and some men and the class breaks into chaos.
Another time you are doing a debate on capital punishment and two students are having a heated discussion. So heated, actually, that it soon spirals out of control and they start getting personal, when, finally, one of them openly calls another an idiot. The men jump out of their seats and are ready to start a fight.
In one more example, you are having a lesson, when out of nowhere a latecomer slams the door open, interrupts the class with a loud explanation of why they were late (they had been drinking the night before), and how lucky we are to see them now (with a massive hangover). They collapse in their seat and look at you expectedly. The flow of the lesson is broken.
All of these situations are not so common, but may still occur. And it takes only one student to sabotage the whole class. Resolving conflicts and coming out of them in a way that everyone feels respected and happy is part of a teacher’s job.
Establish clear rules
Simple as it may sound, making an agreement with your students on a clear set of rules that they will have to follow may set a solid foundation for preventing future mishaps. Ask students to suggest what rules they think will help keep the class in an orderly fashion and write them all down. These policies should also include points for the teacher, not only the students. This way they will feel you share this responsibility with them and they will be more motivated not to break the rules.
Do not interrupt other students when they are speaking;
Try to be on time, but if you are late, come in as quietly as possible and take your seat;
Turn off your mobile phones, and if you need to answer a call, do that outside of the room.
It is important to set rules for specific types of tasks as well, like debates or role-plays. Take 5 minutes to discuss what can and must not be done before starting the discussion. For instance:
Respect other people’s opinions, which may be different from yours;
Do not make it personal, respond to the idea, not to the one behind it;
Do not shout or use offensive language;
If you want to be critical, support your ideas with arguments, examples, or figures;
Patiently wait for your turn to speak or raise a hand.
Build rapport with your students
If you nurture the atmosphere of mutual trust and respect students will be less likely to exhibit antisocial behaviour in class. By getting to know your students better, what topics they feel passionate about, which of them is more likely to have controversial opinions and on what matters, you may steer clear of trouble and remain in calm waters.
Practice on less controversial topics
Before discussing “Baptising” or “Euthanasia” have a few debates on safer topics that are less likely to provoke emotional reactions from your students or make them overly excited. By doing this, students will get familiar with the procedure and in the future will be less likely to overreact to each other’s opinions. It will also give them the chance to practice stating their ideas, supporting them with arguments and examples, and recognising their opponent’s viewpoints.
Do not allow yourself to get distracted by how nicely the students are speaking and how engaged they are in the lesson, that you will miss the point when it turns ugly. Stay alert and react immediately if you feel the debate is getting out of hand. Not saying anything will mean you condone this behaviour. Even simple “Stop. This isn’t appropriate” may prevent the worst and help you steer the lesson back in the right direction. Another way to do it is to interrupt the student before they go too far or say too much and say “Thank you for the opinion. Let’s hear what others have to say on the matter”. If the situation does occur, stop the lesson for a moment and address the issue with the classroom - the cat is already outside the box, and there is no use pretending it is still there. Note, that it is not appropriate to shame students who went a bit too far or voiced an unpopular opinion either, because they may become afraid to speak out again.
We would like to hear your stories about the times the situation got out of hand in class and how you dealt with it!
How to Ignore Annoying Classmates
Everyone encounters annoying classmates—peers that get under your skin and drive you temporarily mad. While you don’t have the authority to control their behavior, you have the power to manage your physical and verbal response to their actions. Instead of giving them the satisfaction of knowing that they are annoying you, ignore them. At the end of the day, you won’t regret remaining cool, calm, and collected.
Method 1. Managing Your Emotions and Reactions
Calm and center yourself. Annoying people tend to bring out the worst in us. When you feel yourself getting frustrated and overwhelmed by the actions of those around you, take a moment to compose yourself. This is important to ensure that your mind is clear and to avoid any irrational responses.
Take a long, deep breath in, followed by a slow exhale. Continue to take deep breaths until you feel in control of your words and actions.
As you breathe, you may find it helpful to repeat a simple mantra to yourself, such as “serenity,” “tolerance,” or “love.” Focus on your one-word mantra instead of your annoying classmate.
Choose to remain silent. When an annoying classmate intentionally, or perhaps unintentionally, pesters, teases, or provokes you, the only thing you have control over is how you respond. Don’t fuel their negative behavior with poor behavior of your own. Choose to remain silent. Silence is not equivalent to weakness or cowardliness. Rather, it can be the mark of a strong individual who has control over their emotions.
While some situations benefit from inaction, others do require our attention. If a classmate is bullying you or others, stand up for what is right.
Check your nonverbal responses. In addition to expressing our annoyance with witty remarks and spiteful comments, our bodies also convey our annoyance with eye rolls, mutters, and disgruntled faces. If you are truly going to ignore your annoying classmate, you need to limit or minimize your physical response to their behavior too. Don’t groan, sigh, or roll your eyes when they do or say something that gets on your nerves.
Put the incident in perspective. In the moment, it is easy to fixate on the annoying behaviors of others. Their quirks can consume our thoughts and drive us mad! To prevent yourself from overreacting, you must ask yourself this: does their annoying behavior negatively affect my life beyond this moment? Most of the time, the answer will be “no.”
Method 2. Ignoring Clowns, Competitors, Chatters
Pay no attention to the class clown. Jokers, or class clowns, devote their time and energy to providing comic relief for the classroom. When you are in the mood for the class clown’s antics, their jokes are hilarious; when you are not in the mood, their attempts and humor can drive you mad. Since class clowns thrive on the reaction of their “crowd,” the best way to ignore a joker is to have no physical or verbal reaction to their jokes.
Class clowns aim to please and are highly sensitive to criticism. If you can not remain silent, a choice remark could put a temporary end to their comedy bit.
If you get in trouble for something the class clown did, don’t overreact. Remain calm and ask the teacher to speak with you after class. When you are speaking one on one with the teacher, explain your side of the story and apologize for any inconvenience you may have caused. Work with your teacher to develop a plan on how to avoid situations like this in the future.
Limit your interactions with competitive students. Overly competitive students thrive on the knowledge that they are better than others. Their determination to prove themselves as superior students can leave others in the class feeling unintelligent and overlooked. If a competitive classmate asks you how you did on an assignment, they are just looking for the chance to brag about their score. When this happens, just walk away. If their pestering persists, tell them that you prefer to keep your grades private.
For example, you may say: “Sorry, I like to keep that kind of information to myself,” “You did really well on the test. Thanks for sharing your score; I prefer to keep mine private,” or “Please stop asking me. I am not comfortable sharing my grade with you.”
Tune out chatterboxes. Overly talkative classmates often struggle with self-awareness and egotism. Ignoring chatterboxes is extremely difficult. Their incessant chatter is inconsiderate and distracting. Try to tune them out and stay focused on the lecture or task at hand. If necessary, politely ask them to be quiet or speak softer.
For instance, you may say: “I’m having a hard time hearing the teacher. Will you please lower your voice or stop talking?” or “Your talking is really distracting me. Can you stop talking so that I can focus?”
If you could not hear what your teacher said, raise your hand and ask them to repeat it. “Sorry, I missed what you said over all the chatter. Can you say that again, please?”
If you are at your wit's end, seek help from your teacher. Stay after class and talk to your teacher about the chatterbox. Your teacher may rearrange the seating chart and or talk to the student privately.
Method 3. Ignoring Detached, Shy, and Clueless Classmates
Do not concern yourself with detached classmates. When the teacher devotes time to trying to engage a detached student, your classmate’s inability to actively participate can become annoying. While this can feel like a waste of time, you must remember that it is part of the teacher’s job. Instead of concerning yourself with this student’s disinterest, use the time to get homework done.
If you have to work with this student in a group setting, don’t waste your energy trying to get them to help. Instead, ignore them and do your best to compensate for their lack of participation.
Remain patient with shy classmates. If you are partnered up with a shy student, you may find their struggle to interact with you annoying. Unlike the detached student, you can’t just ignore your shy classmate. Do your best to engage your partner in a conversation.
Before you start on the project, try to get to know them first. If they feel connected and comfortable around you, they may be more inclined to talk.
Consider trying a few icebreakers.
Play a quick round of two truths and a lie. List two true statements and one lie about yourself. Your shy partner must guess which statements are true and what statement is false.
Tell a few jokes or riddles.
Ask your partner a series of random questions. These could include: what’s your favorite food, where were you born, what’s your favorite carnival ride, do you play any sports, or do you have a pet? Let your partner ask you a few random questions too!
Occupy yourself when clueless classmates talk. While you may master content easily, other students might struggle to comprehend what they are learning. If you have a classmate that constantly asks for clarification, don’t shame them for trying to understand the material. As they talk to the teacher, do your best to check your verbal and physical responses. If you won’t benefit from the additional clarification, occupy yourself with other homework or activities.
Do you have your own ways of dealing with annoying group-mates? Share your experience with us!
Hi! I’m Anastasia and I'm a linguistic enthusiast and a teacher to the core!
Teaching and learning the English language is my life calling. I am in love with the English language, because it allows you to learn everything first, and always be aware of diverse events in the world. The most important thing, of course, is that English opens up the possibility of communication with any person. My hobbies are film photography, playing guitar and learning Spanish.
Behavioural issues have always been a major disadvantage in learning activities. Both students and teachers suffer from antisocial behaviour. For students, this problem interferes with learning and productive communication in the classroom environment, for teachers, it disrupts the educational process and takes a large amount of time to resolve the situation.
There were several conflicts right before my eyes. Most of them are rooted in some personal misunderstandings between students. Therefore, it is a good practice to learn the basics of psychology, as it’s a lifesaver in these cases. Psychology will help to understand the basis of these behaviors and influence the child so that he does not feel pressure and this decision seems to have come by itself.
Luckily, my students don’t swear, so I have 1 less problem to tackle. I suppose, they see some authority in me and it stops them from being too offensive to each other.
Even though my experience in this particular area isn’t big or valuable, I have some ideas on working with the issue.
In order to influence students and make them stop using swear words, teachers should know that at every age the reasons for using cuss words in a child's conversation will be different and teachers will also have to deal with this phenomenon in different ways at every age.
From the age of 7 to 12, it becomes important for children what role they occupy in the society around them, so you can talk to them about it, touching upon the swearing topic. The child will understand that swearing and being offensive doesn’t make him or her look nice neither for fellow classmates nor for adults.
From the age of 12 to 16, it is worth taking a closer look at the teenager, finding out who is an indisputable authority for him or her, and trying to influence through this figure. Here it is important not to compare, but to gently approach and discuss examples of such communication or their absence in the environment of a youngster.
In the end, no matter how teachers approach the topic of antisocial behavior, it is necessary to turn to the help of parents, and the help of a psychologist, and keep in mind the background, all the previous experience of the child.
Would you like to become a contributor and be featured in our newsletter? Let us know!
That’s all for now!
Stay amazing ❤️