How to Manage Difficult Students: Tips and Strategies


Teaching is challenging. More than you have difficult students in the class you will have to put in decent efforts to handle the study process efficiently. There are multiple strategies on how to deal with different situations in the class along with tips and real-life examples.

Some people claim that difficult students need special treatment, while others advice to be as strict as possible to them. Still, you will never know the best way out until you apply it in real life. But for you to avoid failures, here is some good guidance on how to teach in class with difficult students.

Manage Your First Day at School

The first impression really matters. That is why it is vital to get well-prepared for the first school day since it will determine multiple points of cooperation with students. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Greet every student individually
  • Tell about yourself in an interesting and funny way
  • Share your expectations
  • Set the rules and explain them
  • Prepare an impressive lesson.

Once you manage to create a positive image and establish the discipline from the very beginning, you will prevent multiple issues with difficult students later on.

Don’t Treat ‘Difficult’ Students Differently

The common mistake many of the teachers make is treating difficult students differently. They think that such students are somehow special and approach them with extra care, give them different tasks, praise them less or more than others. Such behavior of a teacher only highlights the difference between the students and makes them keep up with the image.

You’d better try the opposite strategy instead. Treat difficult students as well as you treat the whole class. Make them realize that they need to obey the same rules, perform similar tasks, behave the way other students do. This may help difficult students gain the desire not to fall behind the rest of the class and become better. 

Apply the Same Expectations

The first step to an equal attitude to all of the students is preventing yourself from building false images and expectations. Otherwise, you will only make some students misbehave. If you expect your students to pay people to write essays, they will do it, if you don’t believe that some kid will cover the assignments, e won’t succeed,

if you propose easier task to difficult students, they will never be ready for equal or more challenging tasks. This means that expectations really matter. And if you want all the students to perform well, you’d better expect and demand this from everyone.

Don’t Praise Extra Times

Some teachers believe that positive reinforcement can turn a difficult student into an iconic one. This will only partly work. Praise can only come if the student deserves it. He/She doesn’t need to be the first but only better than used to be.

Personal enhancement is enough to get praise from the teacher but misbehavior isn’t. So, if you give high scores or praise the student who hasn’t earnt this, you give your approval to this student’s behavior. Instead of getting better, you can only worsen the situation with difficult students this way.

Never Ignore Violations

There is also a view that claims that difficult students only strive to attract more attention to them with misbehavior. So, if you don’t pay any attention to their misbehavior, students may stop acting this way.

The first statement is true, while the second one may work against you. If you ignore violations of the rules you settle and don’t pay any attention to misbehavior, students may assume that the rules don’t matter. This means you will have to deal with more classroom issues in the nearest future.

Don’t Excess with Personal Approach

It often happens that teachers think that difficult students need many personal talks in addition to an individualized approach. It is good to communicate more to discover the reasons for misbehavior and get trusted by a student.

But don’t be intrusive or overdo with your positive intentions. Otherwise, you can end up provoking even worse behavior and fail with communication with specific students.

Classroom management requires decent efforts and understanding of the situation you are in. As a teacher, you have to feel the class and your students, and tailor your personal strategies and techniques to reach success in the end.