Difficult moments: Student confrontation

At some point in time during the year, you will face student confrontation. Most of the times, these confrontations have nothing to do with you or your class but with what happened before your class at home, or because of a break up, or just because of the need of getting attention. Do not take it personal. Students’ reaction will be more affected by how you respond rather than by the situation itself. There are several facts that may help you face this situation and be successful:

  • Remember that the confrontational student wants you to react confrontational as well. If you are not able to stay calm, the most probable thing to happen is that you will lose the respect of the other students in your class. It is difficult to remain calm, but that is the first step in trying to deal with this difficult moment.
  • Demanding an apology or arguing with the student in front of the class will cost you valuable time and will not solve the situation. It can even get worse.
  • There are a several things you could say to keep calm and show control of the situation. Follow these examples:

“I know you are upset. Please now have a seat and we will discuss it later.”

“I understand what you are saying. Could we talk about it later?”

“You need some space. Would you stand outside the classroom and then come back when you have calmed down?

Now, if you feel that the student is totally out of control and may be a danger to you, to himself, or to a classmate; call for assistance. Never leave an upset student alone.

Sometimes, having a conversation with the students after class and trying to find out what the REAL problem is and work on a solution or just listen; will lead the student not only to appreciate your concern but he/she will feel that you are someone he/she can trust and rely on.

Take also in account that there are some situations and students you will need extra help with. A counselor or administrator would be the next step. You are no expected to solve all the problems. Do what you can. Remain calm. And never take things personally. The most likely situation is that the students have NOTING against you. There are other things bothering them. However, you can be a facilitator to turn around a difficult moment.

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