How I Took Back Control of My Rowdy Classroom


All teachers deal with rowdiness in the classroom from time to time, whether it involves one or two students, or the entire class. Read on to find some tips on how to take back control of your rowdy classroom.

Controlling the Rowdy Classroom

Rowdy classrooms can vary based on grade level, subject area, and the students themselves. Some classes will have one or two students seemingly intent on being problematic, while in other classes, it may appear as if all the students are working together to push you over the edge. While my experience is specific to seventh and eighth graders, the following are some techniques that can work for a variety of age groups. And as you implement them, remember to keep calm and carry on!

Act Like You're in Control

It might seem obvious, but entering a room and carrying yourself like you are in control is the first step towards actually having control. If necessary, 'fake it 'til you make it': if you start the day or the class on a bad note or with fear in your eyes, it's harder to recover than if you initially seem in control.


Stay Calm

This is probably the most difficult piece of advice, but without a doubt the most important. Many students will try to push your buttons and get under your skin. If you allow them to see that they've succeeded, they might find the results rewarding or satisfying. If you remain calm and seem unfazed, you'll show them that their behavior has not had the desired effect.

Smart Classroom Management agrees and suggests that when a class gets out of control, slow it way down. Speak and move softly and slowly and pause a beat longer than feels comfortable. This approach could also work with the stare method, keeping in mind that the priority is to be calm and collected.


Learn Students' Names

This tip can have a very powerful effect. I acknowledge that classes are large, and not all teachers can learn names and faces quickly. However, working at it can help to build memorization skills. Consistent seating can help as well. Owlcation agrees, noting that the ability to call out a troublemaker by name on the first day of class can stop some behavioral issues early on.

Learning kid's names can be even more effective when used for positive reinforcement. Noting a student's good work and complimenting him or her by name can make that student feel special, not just one of many in a class. Even very shy students will likely appreciate the recognition.

Going hand-in-hand with knowing students' names is knowing something about them. Even if you don't know anything about students personally, mention something specific about a class assignment or an interesting point they wrote about in an essay. Owl Teacher notes that even an improvement from a D to a C- is worth mentioning.

Utilize the Proximity Effect

If one or two students are always talking, standing very close to them when you address the classroom often gets their attention. It can also help to rest your hand or fingertips on their desks, which establishes close proximity without actually touching a student.


Practice Respect and Kindness

Everyone wants to be respected; that goes for both you and your students. Treat them as you would like to be treated, and never embarrass them. Additionally, if you establish consequences, stick to them. Students will respect you if you are fair and even when responding to rowdy behavior. Don't be afraid to apologize if you are wrong. Everyone makes mistakes, and it won't make you appear weak to hold yourself to the same standards to which you hold your students.

According to Michael Linsin in an article for Smart Classroom Management, if you are kind to someone, he or she will want to be kind in return. This is not only good practice on a daily basis, but also can help you take back control of your classroom in a kindly manner, as explained in the aforementioned article.


Other Ideas

There are many other methods that teachers cite as effective. Having a sense of humor is imperative, but that isn't always possible. Many teachers suggest calling home and speaking to parents. However, if you use this method, also call home when a rowdy student behaves well.

Edutopia has a list of 30 techniques to help quiet a classroom, organized by grade level. Similarly, Teach Thought has a list of 20 ways to quiet noisy students. Using these tips is no guarantee that you'll be able to take back control of your classroom. However, they can help in the short-term if students get distracted during a class.


While the methods here worked for me, every teacher and class is different. Try a variety of methods, and don't be afraid to seek help not only from online sources, but also from teachers in your school who know the students and situations that can lead to a rowdy classroom.

By Michelle Garrigan-Durant
January 2017
opinion classroom control

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