The Student Who is Being Disruptive in Class
Disruptive behavior can be defined as any behavior that interferes with, disrupts or prevents instruction or learning activities. However, what is considered to be “disruptive” may vary depending on the expectations you have set for your students and the impact that the behavior has on others. Disruption may range from mild distractions to serious threats, violence, or dangerous (see the sections on how to respond to a violent or verbally aggressive student). The course instructor has the authority to determine what behavior is considered disruptive in their course.
- Set and communicate expectations about what is considered appropriate conduct in the classroom orally and in your syllabus (e.g., arriving on time, asking permission to leave the room during exams, waiting until class is over to pull out backpacks, turning off cell phones, not talking out of turn, no food or drink allowed, etc.).
- Provide the class (rather than the individual student) with a word of caution and allow an opportunity for the behavior to stop.
- Exercise authority with compassion, respect, and self-restraint.
- Talk to the student after class.
- Communicate kindly the consequences for continued disruption
- Ask a student to leave class if their behavior impedes the instructor’s ability to teach effectively and they have been provided with a warning.
- The Office of the Provost has guidelines for the classroom management of disruptive students or refer or walk the student to the Office of Student Life for consultation about appropriate classroom behavior or consideration for violation of the K-State Student Code of Conduct, which includes “disruption of the academic environment.”
- If the student refuses to leave, you may contact campus police.
- Ridicule the student and his/her behavior.
- Don’t discipline a student in front of the class, unless absolutely necessary.
- Assume that you can permanently remove a registered student from a class without formal review through the Provosts’ policy for disruptive students or the Student Code of Conduct.
- Get into an argument or shouting match.
- Become hostile or punitive yourself, e.g., “You can’t talk to me that way”
- Press for explanations for their behavior.
Counseling Services, Kansas State University – adapted from information by UC-Davis Counseling and Psychological Services