Practical Application: Identifying Disciplinary Problems in the Classroom

Instructor: Tara Schofield

Tara has a PhD in Marketing & Management

Supporting students and handling disciplinary problems requires skill and the use of effective questions. Use the questions in this application to help create an open dialogue with students and start effective conversations to solve behavioral problems.

Inappropriate Behavior in the Classroom

There are many factors associated with inappropriate behavior in the classroom. Regardless of the cause, teachers must be prepared to handle problems and find effective ways to correct disciplinary issues. In the lesson, Disciplinary Problems in the Classroom: Types & Causes, you learned about the main types of disciplinary issues. These include disrespect, defiance, bullying and aggression. Read the following scenarios to better understand disciplinary problems and review the questions to pose to a student that's presenting a disciplinary problem.

Disciplinary Scenario #1: Ron Returns to School

Ron, who is frequently absent from school, has just returned to class after being absent for the past three days. When he enters your classroom, he is rude to you and your students. He knocks several kids' items off their desks as he walks by and calls the boy sitting behind him an inappropriate name when he sits down. After observing Ron's behavior, you ask him to come to your desk, and while he's slow to respond, he eventually does as he's asked.

Questions to Ask Ron

What are some questions you can pose to Ron to better understand his aggressive and disrespectful behavior?

  • Why were your absent from school?
  • How are you feeling today?
  • How are you feeling about school today?
  • What did you eat for breakfast?
  • How much sleep did you get last night?
  • How was your morning going before you came to school?


This conversation gives you the chance to understand why Ron is being disrespectful to you and aggressive with his fellow students. During the conversation, you may learn about some serious problems Ron is having at home, such as a lack of parental guidance that may be causing extreme internal distress for Ron. Having direct dialogue with students who are misbehaving in class is an important step in understanding what factors may be causing their behavioral issues.

In this scenario, Ron may be acting out because of his poor home life and may need more consistent parental intervention, a common issue that can cause tremendous stress for students. Teachers who take the time to understand challenges related to students' home lives can be better prepared to support students' learning and address behavioral issues.

Disciplinary Scenario #2: Ron Makes Bad Decisions

Ron is easily influenced by other students in the class. They often pressure him into making bad decisions, being rude to you and showing disrespect to other teachers.

When talking to students about disciplinary issues, you'll often come across a variety of factors that affect their classroom behavior, including those related to student conflicts, peer pressure and parent-child relationships.

Questions Related to Student Conflicts

Use the following sample questions to start a dialogue about student conflicts:

  • It seems that you're having a problem with another student. What is causing this problem?
  • Have you talked to <student's name> about the problem?
  • How do you think you could work out your disagreement?
  • How could you talk to your fellow students in a more respectful way?
  • What happens when you misbehave at home? How do your parents discipline you?

Questions Related to Peer Pressure

Try asking Ron some of these questions to better understand how others are affecting him:

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