How do teachers deal with challenging teenagers in a school environment


Challenging behaviour is often found in schools across the country, but there are plenty of ways that both new and experienced teachers alike can tackle it. Dealing with disruption early is critical when looking to create a positive learning environment, as it enables all pupils to make the most of their classroom time.

Teachers who act quickly can limit any potential loss of productivity during lessons and are often best placed to get to the root of a problem before it escalates. However, it’s also important to recognise the causes of challenging behaviour, as knowing this can shape how to manage it.

Knowing what to look out for

There are numerous reasons behind why a pupil’s behaviour could be challenging, from underlying health issues which influence behaviour, to those with learning difficulties or conditions, such as autism and ADHD. On top of this, anxiety related to changing schools or problems in their home environment could also drive a pupil to be disruptive. Others may simple not be engaged with the subject matter and may look to influence those around them in a negative way.

If teachers are able to recognise some of these signs, or have knowledge of what to expect, tackling some of the challenging behaviour becomes easier.

Facilitate positive surroundings

As a teacher, you can have a big say in creating your desired learning environment. Many school staff will often look to communicate desired patterns of behaviour with pupils and to set out what is and isn’t acceptable early on. One way to do this is to talk about good behaviour and to encourage pupils to list examples, before working to creative posters and other slogans which can then adorn the classroom walls. This helps to reinforce positive messaging and enables pupils to feel involved in creating a safe space in which to learn. Alternatively, you could look to create a class code of conduct which sets out the dos and do nots of classroom behaviour.

Focus on communication

It’s imperative for teachers to always communicate well – this should be done politely, with instructions delivered in a clear and distinct way. This reduces the potential for any misunderstandings and helps pupils to grasp exactly what is expected of them. Be authoritative when speaking and try to keep the tone as neutral as possible. Most teachers will look to avoid shouting, and may even opt to take pupils to one side at the end of lessons to have a quiet chat with them about their behaviour. This is often far more effective as the pupil feels respected, and does not have an audience to act up in front of.

Refer to the school behavioural policy

Every school should have a behavioural policy and it’s important to know this before starting work. It will outline how to deal with certain types of behaviour and what the expectations are, providing you with a solid foundation to work from. Some disruptive pupils may comply with simply instructions to stop what they are doing, while in other cases it might be necessary to discuss sanctions such as detention. Should issues persist, you may want to discuss them with other senior staff such as heads of year or even the headteacher.

Make sure to lead by example

Teachers should be role models in the school environment and it should be possible for pupils to mirror your behaviour, such is the standard that is set. Remember too that you’ll have to earn respect, and it can often be done by ensuring that all pupils feel they are being treated equally.

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