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Teaching Interview questions: Disruptive students

Teaching Interview questions: Disruptive students

During an academic interview, one of the most common questions related to classroom management is about student behavior, inside and outside the classroom.

Although the questions might not be the same, the goal is. They will want to know how you deal with misbehaving students.

Some possible questions related to behavioral issues are:

  • What is your attitude towards disrespectful students?
  • How do you treat students who show disrespect?
  • How do you show difficult students and the class that you are in control?
  • How do you respond to negative behavior in class?
  • How do you respond to rude students?
  • How do you handle disruptive behavior in class?
  • Can you describe your philosophy on student discipline?

There are as many ways to answer these questions as people. There is no one right answer because situations are not the same; teachers are not the same, and students are not the same. However, knowing the tools we can count on, not only will help us improve our performance in class but also will give us more solid ground to provide a more effective answer. 

Faced with misbehavior, first of all,


Meaning, do not engage in the fight even if you feel you would like to tell him/her a couple of things. We are all well aware that, most of the time, there is another underlying issue at stake, especially if the student is particularly persistent in his/her misbehavior. Then,


For the right moment. Tell the student -and, if applicable, the parent-, what you have to say. Also, mention what the consequences will be. The right moment will be when you see and feel that he/she has moved on and is ready to listen. When you find the opportunity to talk, then there are a few things it is advisable to keep in mind.

  1. Show that you are in charge. 

Do your best not to react right away, even if you have to wait for the conversation to take place after the class, show the student that you have not forgotten and, do follow up. It may take extra time but will be rewarding afterward, avoiding you further complications in class when the other students see that you are not the type that forgets or tolerates such misbehavior.

  1. Be clear on how you will handle behavior in class.

When you outline the contents of the class at the beginning of the year, you could also include your discipline rules. Describe what your rules will be and how you will implement them.

  1. Do not take it personally.

It is highly important to detach yourself from the feeling that the student shows his/her disrespect against you. Doing so will help keep an objective point of view in a given situation.

  1. Be culturally sensitive. 

The same attitude may have varied meanings in different cultures. For example, in the U.S., eye-contact shows interest and attention while in other cultures is a sign of disrespect. 

  1. Work on turning a negative situation into a positive one.

Any situation can be used to learn. Students and parents need to understand that discipline measures are not meant to punish but to help students become aware that they are responsible for their behavior. And a good-behaved individual will collaborate in improving the class atmosphere. Implementing positive reinforcement in class may help. By doing so, students have the chance to better themselves. 

The key to finding the right answer to this challenging behavior question is adapting the available tools to ones personality.  Pretending to be someone we are not will leave us in a vulnerable situation because it will make us feel insecure. Insecurity is the last thing we need in such a case. When you do what you consider is the best option to approach the issue, do it with conviction. Eventually, this is another learning situation, for the student, for you and all those who are watching.