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EIU Office of Student Accountability & Support

Handling Specific Disruptive Behaviors *


If you encounter a discipline problem in your classroom, the first thing to do is to stay calm. Keeping your composure does not mean just accepting and tolerating the abuse. There are some specific, appropriate measures you can take in response to disruptive behaviors (Nilson, 1981; Ballantine and Risacher, 1993).

TALKING IN CLASS: Occasional comments or questions from one student to another are to be expected. However, chronic talkers both other students and interfere with your train of thought. To stop them try to say something general like "I really think you should pay attention to this; it will be on the test" or "You are disturbing your classmates." If the problem persists speak with the offenders outside the class.

ARRIVING LATE AND/OR LEAVING EARLY: State your policies clearly on these offenses in your syllabus and on the first day of class. You can insist that students inform you, preferably in advance, of any special circumstances that will require them to be late to class. You can even subtract course points for coming late and leaving early, as long as you set this policy at the start. Finally, to discourage packing up early you can routinely conduct important class activities for the end of class.

SHOWING DISRESPECT: Once again, make your expectations for appropriate classroom manners clear from the start, and reinforce them continually by your exemplary behavior. Enlist the aid of other students to monitor and report disruptive incidents. Talk to offenders privately and explain that their behavior is affecting their fellow students' ability to learn.

Sometimes students show disrespect to get the attention they believe they cannot get through any other means, to vent their anger towards authority in general, or to express some other issues or concerns.

A student with a habitual problem deserves a private talk along with possible referral to Student Accountability & Support.

Your best strategy against all forms of disruptive behavior is prevention. Be aware of potential problems and plan carefully to keep them from developing.




*Adapted from


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Contact Information

Office of Student Accountability and Support

Martin Luther King University Union
600 Lincoln Avenue
Charleston, IL 61920
Fax: 217-581-6489

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