Even though you’re not teaching high school, you’d be surprised at some college students that haven’t completely abandoned their high school identity.  The first semester that I taught, I tried to be the really cool professor, and wasn’t attentive to classroom to control. It came back to bite me in the behind because when observation time came, guess what my supervising professor wrote in my evaluation? “Mr. Alex Luy is unable to control his class, for example a student had his feet up on a desk”.

As a 25 year old adjunct instructor, I was very immature, and out of frustration found a reason to not look at myself for the comments put on my evaluation.    That is one of the reasons I took a break for a few years after that, because I let the comments get to me.  I told myself it wasn’t worth it to keep going. It was only after I came back about 4 years later that I realized the importance of classroom control. I don’t advise you be an Army general either, but you need to address rules of the classroom at the beginning.   After dealing with difficult students, below is a list of what you can try:

  1. If a student has his/her headphones on during class, address the student by their name and you can say something similar to below.  I actually got this tip from Jason Teatek from Rule The Room :

You: John.  How’s it going today? You know, I don’t teach children that have their headphones                               on during class.

2. If  you are lecturing and have a group of students talking in the back disrupting your lecture, there’s a couple of things you           can do, which include

A. Stopping your lecture and asking the students to quiet down first.  If they keep chattering, you                    can stop the lecture again and ask them that if they need to speak, to please go outside, and that                  you won’t mind if they get up and leave.

B. Carry a big long wooden stick every class, and if a couple of people start chatting up, just slam it against the desk really loud, so you get everyone’s attention.  This I learned from an old history high school teacher. I could still remember the stick banging against the desk.

C.  Stop the lecture and address the student’s questions.  Sometimes students don’t mean to be disruptive, they like to help each other and explain to each other, unfortunately this sometimes happens during the lecture.

D. If you’re lecturing in front of the room, walk around and walk close to the group of students that are talking. Chances are if you start lecturing from where they are, they will def. not talk over you.  This won’t work if you don’t know your material inside out.


3. If you have a student that constantly gets up and leaves the room, which I once had, address him after class privately.  Chances are there is something more than the student being restless. In my case, I suspected the student was a heroine addict, but obviously I couldn’t confirm it. Once I confronted the student, the person just told me everything was fine.  2 weeks later, the student dropped the class.


4. Constantly disrupting and being disrespectful, or trying to go through your personal belongings, then you have to get public safety involved. At the college I worked for it was easy to dial them in, and they would remove the student from your classroom. I have never had to do that, but I have filled out an incident report, which was handled by public safety. Whenever there is an incident, always try and submit as much paperwork as you can.

5. Students who are know it alls. See future post.

6. The student who threatens to go to the dean because you are unfair. These are easy to deal with, all you need to do is call their bluff.  As long as you have done nothing wrong, and have the corresponding paperwork to back it up, then you have nothing to worry about. Don’t let students intimidate you just because you are a first year teacher.  I once had a student actually complain to the dean that my grading policy was unfair, but nothing happened. Why? Because before every semester I submit my grading policy and syllabus to the department.  If there was a problem, then I would’ve known about it sooner.

7. Students who cheat. See future post.

I hope this has helped you, first year adjunct.

Dealing with Difficult Students

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