As part of my duty at the school, I was unofficially asked, perhaps told, that I would be receiving some of the most troubled students in my classroom. They felt that a strong male influence could be enough to get these kids behaving better. To be honest, sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.

I have been the lone male teacher in my school district for years. Male elementary teachers are tough to come by because we are a rare breed. Sometimes I wonder if watching the movie Kindergarten Cop one too many times led me to this point in my life. In any case, being the lone male educator did have some benefits.

All the students in school knew who I was. Our principal was a man as well, but he was only there in the school about 30 percent of the time. We did have a maintenance man in the building, too, but he was usually pretty busy with his work and not seen often. Not to toot my own horn too much, but I was a celebrity in that school just for being a guy that was friendly and had a good sense of humor.

With that said, if you have been teaching any amount of time at all, you will know that sometimes one misbehaving kid can ruin the whole class for you. I know that Michael Jackson and the rest of the Jackson Five would sing that one bad apple won’t spoil the whole bunch, but it can severely affect them. Below are some tips on how to handle these troubled students rather than just hoping they are sick everyday.

Seat Placement

If you know that a student misbehaves quite a bit, try placing them in the front row in the class. They will have less people around them that they can bother. However, if they start acting up, then the whole class can see them as well. That is when you move them to the back row instead. In our heads, we think there is some sort of perfect seat combination that will have all the kids getting good grades and behaving. It is a bit like figuring out a Rubik’s Cube. I have actually had a few troubled students move their desk right up against my teacher’s desk. I could at least keep a better eye on them that way.

Try to Make Friends

It’s hard to dislike someone when you can relate to them. This goes for teachers and students. The more you find out about their life, the better understanding you will have on why they act the way they do. Everyone is facing some sort of problem or problems in life, so try to keep an open mind to the situation rather than just declaring that the student is a bad kid. Remember the phrase, “There but for the grace of God go I.” If we had the same upbringing or difficulties that these kids have had to face, we would be pretty rough around the edges, too.

Reach Out to the Parents

I have always been a fair person. I am not quick to judge and will find a reason to forgive. But if a student is immature or acting disorderly in the first week or two of the school year, I immediately reach out to the parents so we can schedule a meeting. I do this for two reasons. One is so they know that I will be punishing their kid if this continues. The other reason is that maybe, just maybe, they were unaware of the child’s behavior in the first place. By having this meeting of the minds, we are putting all our cards out on the table immediately. Expectations are put in place and we have to be a team to remedy the situation.

Reward for Good Behavior

The reward system is running rampant through school districts across the world. These programs are telling educators that we should be rewarding students when they are doing what they are supposed to do. However, is it feasible to be spending half my day rewarding the great kids in class just to, hopefully, change the attitude of one or two troubled students. The way I approach the rewards system is as a whole group. All the students have to have a good week and if they do, they receive some sort of reward on Friday. They either succeed or fail as a class. If a kid is misbehaving, they usually will correct their behavior if the rest of the class is getting upset with them.

Be the Adult

The saying that you can’t see the forest for the trees means that you are too close to the situation to really see it clearly. It may seem like it is all the student’s fault when the kid is misbehaving, but instead of shouting, sit them down and talk to them like a real person. When I see educators in the midst of an argument with a kid, I cringe. We need to remember that we are the adult with years of experience. If we treat them like an adult themselves, their behavior will usually improve.

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