Classroom Management Help For The Substitute Teacher (page 4)

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Oct 14, 2011

How do I Handle Students who Represent a Special Challenge?

If a student is particularly challenging, a good strategy encompasses isolation and communication. First, isolate the student from others in the classroom. This may require taking the student to the back of the room or into the doorway so that you can keep an eye on the rest of the class. Once isolated, the disruptive student receives no feedback from others and often will calm down. Also, the student must face you—one-on-one.

Next, initiate communication by making direct eye contact. Ask whether there is a special problem. While looking directly into her eyes, indicate that you are unhappy and disappointed with the behavior. Tell her you do not want to embarrass her in front of classmates and suggest that a change in behavior begin “right now.” Ask whether she understands what you’ve said.

These quiet, private talks can work wonders. When you take away the audience, and it’s just the two of you, the student loses her incentive for misbehavior! Why show off if no one is watching?

When you return the student to the classroom setting, remove her from her current seat and place her in an area where she will not distract classmates. A referral may be needed if a challenging student continues to be uncooperative.

What is the Best Way to Praise Students at Different Grade Levels?

Praise is a wonderful tool in the lower grades. Younger children thrive on it. I have found it to be the best reward possible. Praise for the whole group is very powerful, and praise for small groups and individuals is equally effective.

Be aware that middle school students have an image to maintain. Sadly, being a nerd or the teacher’s pet can be very embarrassing for the sixth grader who wants to maintain his or her cool image. In some communities, students will be ostracized if they are considered “too smart.” So when you praise an older student, be subtle. Wait for a private time. If the student looks uncomfortable with your praise, sometimes a smile of recognition is just as effective.


Classroom management is profoundly important. A well managed classroom allows you to teach and ensures that your students will have a good day. Be sure you follow these guidelines:

  • Your initial introduction to the class is your opportunity to display your strength and competence. Use it to your best advantage.
  • You may not always feel as if the students like you, and that is okay. Your job is to maintain order so that you will be able to teach.
  • Use proximity to students to keep them on task. Be aware of your pacing by watching for student cues.
  • Remember to use rewards and consequences consistently and fairly. A variety of reward systems are available for your use. When you have to threaten with consequences, be sure you follow through.
  • If necessary, you may need to send in a referral on a very challenging student. Find out the procedure and use it as a last resort.

If you apply these guidelines effectively, you’ll find yourself getting better at classroom management each time you sub!

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