Tips for Classroom Management

INTRODUCTION

If you have ever experienced a challenging disciplinary situation in your classroom, you are not alone. The majority of students act in an appropriate and respectful manner; however, there are occasions when students will test the limits of acceptable classroom behavior.

Student conduct that substantially or repeatedly interferes with the ability of an instructor to teach or the ability of other students to learn is a violation of the COCC Student Code of Rights & Responsibilities. These expectations extend beyond the classroom to field trips, internship placement and other off-campus College activities.

PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS

Confronting a disruptive student can be an uncomfortable experience. If a student’s behavior obstructs or disrupts your ability to teach or the ability of others to learn, you may find the following suggestions helpful.

  1. Clearly articulate rules regarding attendance, tardiness, active class participation, cheating, use of electronic devices, and appropriate conduct on the course syllabus. Specify consequences (e.g., reports to Student Life) and follow through in a fair and consistent manner. Reference acceptable computer use and e-mail policies where appropriate.
  2. Model professional behavior. Respond to inappropriate remarks in a professional, mature manner. Put-downs or witty comebacks tend to escalate the situation.
  3. If possible, move closer to the disruptive students, pause until everyone quiets down, and make direct eye contact. Disruptive students are not always aware that they are bothering others.
  4. When the problem is isolated to one student, speak privately with the student. Use “I” messages such as, “When I see you _____; I feel _____; and I need the activity to stop.”
  5. Seek consultation from experienced colleagues, the Student Life Office and/or your department chair.
  6. If the problem continues, issue a written warning to the student addressing concerns and consequences for non-compliance (e.g., risk of a lower grade if classroom participation is a percentage of the course grade and/or referral to the Student Life Office).
  7. If a student prevents you from moving on to another topic, take control of the discussion, express the need to cover all of the material, and invite the student to continue the conversation during your office hours.
  8. If verbal admonishment is not effective, give the student the option of modifying the undesirable behavior or leaving the class for the remainder of the class. Instructors may tell a student to leave class temporarily, but adjudication by the Student Life Office is necessary for permanent removal.
  9. If you are seeing a pattern of disruptive behavior, consult with the Student Life Office or your department chair. All students, including those with psychological disabilities, are required to comply with regulations set forth in the COCC Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities. Inform the Student Life Office if the behavior continues.
  10. Document all incidents and your attempts to resolve the situation. Be factual and objective. Use quotations whenever possible. Contact the Student Life Office if you want to consult about possibly referring incidents for disciplinary action.
  11. If a student is making threats of violence to him/herself and/or to others, immediately contact Campus Services at 383-7775. Document the incident(s) and forward the information to the Student Life Office as soon as possible.


SAMPLE CLASSROOM BEHAVIOR STATEMENTS FOR YOUR SYLLABUS (see also “Examples of Course Policies, Expectations and Agreements for Syllabi”)

  • Classroom participation is a part of your grade in this course. To participate, you must attend class having prepared the materials for the day. Questions and comments must be relevant to the topic at hand.
  • You are expected to be on time. Class starts promptly at x. You should be in your seat and ready to begin class at this time. Class ends at x. Packing up your things early is disruptive to others around you and to myself.
  • Raise your hand to be recognized.
  • Classroom discussion should be civilized and respectful to everyone and relevant to the topic we are discussing. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Classroom discussion is meant to allow us to hear a variety of viewpoints. This can only happen if we respect each other and our differences.
  • Any discussion from class that continues on any listserv or class discussion list should adhere to these same rules and expectations.
  • Any continued disruption of class will result in a report to the Office of Student Life for a conduct code infraction. After one warning, if the disruption continues, you will be asked to leave the classroom for the remainder of class.
  • You are expected to do your own work. Cheating, plagiarism and any other form of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Please refer to the COCC Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities (http://www.cocc.edu/Student-Life/Rights_and_Responsibilities/) by which all students are expected to abide.
  • Identify on your syllabus what your students can expect from you. Being prepared for class, being on time, not leaving early, being respectful toward your students and their opinions, are all examples.

For more information about the student conduct process at COCC, contact the Student Life Office at 383-7592 or visit our website: http://www.cocc.edu/student-life


Adapted/reproduced with permission from “Why can’t I bring my iguana to class?” distributed by Minnesota State University, Mankato.

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