Episode 41: Dealing with Difficult Students

Show Notes

Be kind; we’re all going through something.” 

We’ve all probably been reminded of this phrase at some point or another in our lives. As teachers, it’s important to remember that it applies to students as well. When dealing with difficult students it’s especially important to remind ourselves that they also face difficult life situations and challenges. 

There are many reasons why students misbehave. Whether it is due to a learning disability, a difficult situation at home, lack of affect or they’re simply not interested and are too young to restrain themselves from showing how they truly feel. The truth is that if we teach long enough, we will definitely encounter difficult students. 

The hosts point to several strategies in order to effectively deal with students’ misbehavior:

  • The first is to know ourselves well and know what “triggers” us. Knowing what our weaknesses are is crucial in being prepared to redirect your behavior and be able to handle a difficult student. Our students read us well. They compare teachers throughout the day. They know who’s strict, flexible or a ‘push over’ (as they’d say). If you know yourself well, you can be more empowered to make the right call when the time comes. 
  • Prepare ahead of time. If we can expect bad behavior from the same student we can plan ahead the sitting arrangement, type of activities, partners, etc., thus, leaving little room for the unexpected. Anticipating the behavior and structuring our time with them may lessen the negative impact that their behavior may cause.  
  • Ultimately, some things are out of our control. There are times when nothing works, and we just need to be ready to not let it affect us so much. Perhaps we can adopt a mantra “No matter what student X does, I will keep my composure.” Or any other version that better fits the situation.

As always, show up with a lot of compassion for yourself so that you may be able to extend the same compassion to others.

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Connect with the hosts:

Madel Mazzella:
Instagram: ⁠@madelmazzella
TikTok: ⁠@madelmazzella⁠
Website: madelmazzella.com

Kaitlyn Rapai:
Instagram: @the_teacher_burnout_coach
TikTok: ⁠@kaitlyn_rapai_coaching⁠

Original Music by: Matthew Dotson

Cover Art by: Nate Rapai

[Disclaimer: Any views or opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts and guests and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of any educational institutions or organizations. This podcast is presented solely for educational and entertainment purposes. The hosts are not licensed therapists and their opinion does not substitute the advice of a physician or other qualified professional]