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How to Deal With Indiscipline in the Classroom – Part 3

How to Deal With Indiscipline in the Classroom – Part 3

Some Classic Mistakes

In my first two posts in this series on Discipline, I mentioned some of the causes of undisciplined behaviour and a few proactive steps which I believe will help in creating a classroom atmosphere which promotes disciplined behaviour.

In this post, the third post in this series on discipline, I would like to mention a few points about teacher traits which may cause students not to be the angels we would like them to be!

I am an expert on how not to be an angel – being unruly was my modus vivendi throughout my school years and what follows is a list of what caused me to be rowdy and unruly; a series of traits displayed by a long line of teachers from a different century.


What my teachers did

  • They lectured
  • They screamed and shouted
  • They punished unfairly and harshly
  • They humiliated students publicly
  • They insisted on having the last word
  • Their body language was negative
  • They used violence
  • They never praised anyone but the top students
  • They had irritating quirks, like keys jangling in pockets, scratching in strange places, odd gestures etc
  • They never moved from behind their desks
  • They droned!
  • They had really boring voices!
  • They recited the book and made no other effort to animate the content
  • They made sarcastic remarks if you made a mistake
  • They ridiculed weaker students
  • They had favourites
  • They were unfair
  • They sulked and were unforgiving
  • They made irrelevant comments
  • They accused anyone or everyone
  • They were vindictive
  • They often lost control of their class
  • They were not always well prepared
  • They could be easily confused by student questions
  • They made weaker students feel stupid or inferior

There were other things, too, which made me misbehave

  • A teacher who dressed very sloppily or oddly
  • A teacher who was personally not clean or whose clothes were dirty or stained, or who smelled musty!
  • A teacher who had unpleasant personal habits, such as picking his nose, or, in the case of some male teachers, adjusting their, well, hmm… jewels :-)
  • A teacher who gave low marks to poor students and high marks to those whose parents paid them for private tutoring time

I could go on for ever!

Here is a great video I found on You Tube – it was made in 1947 and it’s great to see how it repeats much of what I said above!


So are Students Unkind?

Students will jump at every opportunity – rowdiness is often a need to release energy, especially in younger learner classes, and they will misbehave, especially if some of the other behaviour traits are in evidence, causing them to feel bored, anxious, fearful, or unfairly treated.

I don’t think students are unkind but good behaviour is modelled, not taught, so one should not be surprised at what such models may produce!

The few occasions where I was attentive had to do with teachers whose lessons were interesting and whose behaviour modelled the kind of behaviour they expected of us; you have heard this common saying amongst teachers: “Teacher shouts, class shouts”…. 

Which doesn’t say much about the series of sorry educators I had to learn from at school.



Things are different today and, hopefully, the traits I mentioned would not be possible, at least in such high frequency, in contemporary schools.

But it’s a big world out there and it’s not all rosy.

How to Deal With Indiscipline in the Classroom
  from BGW, 1989, by Marisa Constantinides

In many parts of the world these teacher behaviours are perpetuated; and what may pass for discipline may be its opposite end – apathy! 


A way forward

At one time or another, we may have all made mistakes that caused our students to misbehave – the reflective teacher will find their way out of the vicious circle of being a poor role model and causing, rather than solving or anticipating discipline issues in their classes.

How many of those mistakes like these have you made in your teaching career?   What were the results?

Do you have any stories to tell, stories which made you realise that you needed to change your tactics?

If you do, please share them in the comments.


Your Task

Turn all the classic mistakes into positive teacher behaviours!

And hopefully, you, too will be able to give the same outstanding answer as one of my good colleagues who answered like this when asked the question “How do you solve your discipline issues?

“Discipline issues? I never have any!” 


Reposted by kind permission of Marisa Constantinides. Originally posted on TEFL Matters 

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2 Responses

  • Pete Pun

    "the reflective teacher will find their way out of the vicious circle of being a poor role model" I think this is a very good point. If you don't get things right first time, you CAN take control of things and change a dynamic. People often talk to me about the importance of the first meeting, setting rules, routines, being consistent, etc. All of this is undoubtedly important, but we shouldn't forget that we are only human and can make mistakes. A good skill as a teacher is to reflect and inform students when you realise you've been unfair or inconsistent. I find they really respect that. As for your teachers, sounds like you hated them. I don't know about hating them for mustiness though, you've got to draw the line somewhere! Having said that, one of mine always ate tuna for lunch and I dreaded her leaning over the desk...


  • Marisa Constantinides

    Pete Pun, some of my teachers at school were really pretty awful people! The few I liked were just nicer people - but they were not really great in terms of technique!!!! I think I did hate a couple of them but for the most part I lived on a different planet!