Is Professional Development Enough to Prepare Teachers For Violent and Disruptive Students?

An increase in disruptive and violent students is a disturbing trend being seen in classrooms around the United States. From preschool all the way up through senior year, children and teens in public schools are being exposed to far more behavioral incidents than their parents or grandparents ever experienced.

It used to be that kids were embarrassed to misbehave in public, and they were scared of the consequences they would face at school and at home. But today many kids haven’t been taught to feel shame, and all of the consequences have been removed from schools by way of legislation and court cases.  And most students don’t face consequences at home either.

Teachers are facing more behaviors every year that completely disrupt their classroom and it impacts the quality of education that all students are receiving.  It takes precious class time, instills a sense of fear and introduces disrespect for the teacher and school administrators.

Many of these increasingly disruptive behaviors fall under 4 main categories and include:

  1. Excessive Talking
    1. Inappropriate conversations with peers during class time
    1. Taking phone calls in class
    1. Calling out across the classroom
    1. Blurting out random words or answers
    1. Yelling
  2. Attention-Seeking Behaviors
    1. Making random noises
    1. Blaring music through headphones
    1. Throwing things
    1. Tapping on the desk
    1. Walking around the classroom
  3. Power Struggle
    1. Ignoring directions
    1. Breaking classroom rules
    1. Arguing
    1. Walking out of class
    1. Cursing at or threatening the teacher
  4. Violence
    1. Hitting
    1. Biting
    1. Spitting
    1. Student retaliation or revenge
    1. Destroying the classroom

The question is, how are teachers being prepared to manage their classrooms with of these disruptive and violent behaviors now taking place?

While they’re required to attend many professional development courses throughout the year on classroom management, these courses typically focus on what the teachers are doing wrong instead of how to manage these behaviors in students and how to get the classroom back under control. 

For example, classroom management courses typically inform teachers that they should:

  • Greet students at the door
  • Build relationships
  • Give plenty of gentle reminders
  • Optimize classroom seating
  • Praise and reward students through small gifts
  • Set clear expectations
  • Be present at all times
  • Be consistent

While these tips certainly help most teachers and students build healthy relationships in class, they do nothing to address the very aggressive and violent behaviors from students who have no impulse control, no respect for authority, and no desire to build relationships with their teachers. And they certainly don’t help teachers prepare to handle students with mental health disorders.

Instead, advice is given to teachers on how to stop bad behaviors before they happen by creating the perfect environment.   Tips like adjusting the temperature level, having seating arrangements, not allowing classroom discussions to be too loud, and making sure all students’ eating, drinking, and bathroom needs are being met are supposed to be the solution.

With an estimated learning loss of 144 minutes per week for a total of 14.5 days per year due to classroom disruption, how do school districts address this topic in professional development?  Since it’s not currently addressed during training programs, and most teachers are ill-equipped to manage these students, the entire class pays the price of a reduction in learning time and the potential fear factor of these behaviors happening continuously.  

Virtual schools and virtual classes eliminate these disruptive behaviors so teachers and students are assured an environment of active learning and safety.  Virtual education is a solid alternative to dealing with the day to day challenges that occur in our brick and mortar classes almost daily. 

Virtual classes, when using the right technology, offers more teaching/learning tools and provides teachers with immediate feedback and quiz results so they know what the students are doing and how they are learning.