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6 Ways To Handle A Disrespectful Student

If you work as a tutor for long enough at some point in your career, you will come across a disrespectful student. The students like this disobey their teachers and try their best to disrupt the course of the lesson.

Now, the vast majority of the students are eager to learn as they understand that it is for their own benefit. However, occasionally you do come across a student who is being disruptive and disrespectful, so you need to learn what are the most effective ways to contain them and how to encourage them to focus on the lesson. This is something that every tutor must know how to do.

Those tutors who have already had the misfortune of dealing with disrespectful students can do it in a variety of ways. There are some who choose to ignore the disrespectful remarks the student makes, while others may go as far as using corporal punishment.

This must be avoided at all costs.

It is illegal and will get you in a lot of trouble. But even if it was legal, it still wouldn’t be a good way to manage a disrespectful student. It would have a negative effect on your relationship with the student as they would lose trust in you.

Even if you are not currently dealing with this problem, you still should read the entire article because, at some point in the future, you will need this advice. So keep reading to find out what are some of the most effective ways of dealing with a disrespectful student.


1. Do not take it personally. It isn't you; it's them!

Many teachers, especially those who are new to this profession, tend to take the students' disrespect personally and think that perhaps it is their fault; maybe they did something that elicited that kind of disrespect from a student.

You should know that this is not the case.

Even if the student had another tutor, they would have been disrespectful towards them as well. The disrespect is caused by their own personality, and it is not a comment on your teaching style, so do not take it to heart and don’t doubt yourself. Even if the student starts making derogatory comments about your teaching methodology, calmly tell them that out of the two of you, you are the one who is an experienced and qualified tutor, and show them that you have confidence in what you do.

Students are disrespectful to elicit some sort of emotional reaction from their tutors; they want to attract attention, and this is the only way they know how to do that, so if you remain calm and confident, they will see that their actions bear no fruit. On the other hand, if you let them see that you are hurt by their comments, this may encourage them to make more disrespectful comments in the future.

Read also: Top 5 mistakes that all tutors should avoid


2. Having a sense of humor may be useful at this job.

Not all students will make extremely hurtful and disrespectful comments at all times. Sometimes your students will make mildly impolite comments or do something to disrupt the course of the lesson without even realizing they are doing so.

If such minor incidents occur, it might be best to address the situation with a humorous remark. This remark will help your students realize that whatever they did or said was inappropriate, and it will help you avoid too much tension.

And even if your student is not disrespectful, it is always a good idea to include some humor in your lessons. A sense of humor helps human beings bond, and it may help you maintain a good relationship with your students, which would prevent negative incidents from happening in the future. But be careful not to overdo it!

At the end of the day, you are a tutor and not a stand-up comedian, and students must realize that they are attending your lessons first and foremost to learn and not just for entertainment.

Additionally, to help students stay on track, you can provide them with various resources (such as online tutorial, term paper writing help, or sample papers) that can help them stay focused and organized.


3. Create behavioral guidelines and stick to them.

It is highly recommended to set expectations from the very beginning and adhere to these behavioral rules during all of the study sessions. You must explain to your students as clearly as possible what kind of behavior is expected of them and what will be your reaction if they deviate from these expected norms.

If students know about the rules and consequences in advance, they are less likely to break those rules; however, in some extreme cases, students just don’t care, so you must address the situation.


4. Self-awareness is the key.

Try to explain to the impolite students that their actions are disrupting the flow of the lesson, which will be detrimental for them at the end of the day. If your students realize that they are hurting themselves by interrupting your lessons, they are less likely to do so.


5. Let the silence do the speaking.

If you are conducting a group lesson and one student keeps speaking while you are trying to explain something, simply stop speaking and make eye contact with them. They will find the sudden silence uncomfortable, and they will stop speaking to analyze what is happening.

Let the silence linger for a bit, all the while making eye contact with them so that they know it is they who caused this to happen. In some cases, it may not even be necessary to say anything. The combination of silence, persistent eye contact, and their classmates staring at them will be enough to make them feel slightly embarrassed and try to avoid talking in the future.

Or you can calmly point out to them that their actions are causing disruption and are wasting everybody’s time. The same approach works if your student is doing something else rather than focusing on the lesson (for example, fiddling with their phone).


6. Tell their parents.

If you see that none of your actions bear fruit, then you have no other choice than to tell the parents about it. Sometimes this will make the children realize the severity of the situation and reassess their behavior.

Additionally, you can find more info at OmniPapers and its blog, regarding all about education as well as tips and tricks on how to handle disrespectful students and in order to create an optimal learning environment.

To conclude, the vast majority of the students are eager to learn, but if you do come across one or two impolite ones, these tips will hopefully make your job easier.

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How to become a tutor in Singapore: Steps you need to take
MOE teachers vs Full-time tutors: Which job pays better?
The Complete Guide for tutors on handling difficult parents

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About Author

Tutor City's blog focuses on balancing informative and relevant content, never at the expense of providing an enriching read. 

We want our readers to expand their horizons by learning more and find meaning to what they learn.

Resident author - Mr Wee Ben Sen, has a wealth of experience in crafting articles to provide valuable insights in the field of private education.

Ben Sen has also been running Tutor City, a leading home tuition agency in Singapore since 2010.