What shall we do with a rebellious student…

…early during the course

Cold-blooded murder is not an option

Quite unfortunately 🙂

Some say if you make a song about your problem, it gets easier – not sure if Taylor Swift  would agree, though 🙂 Anyways, feel free to sing the desperate verses above to the tune of What shall we do with a drunken sailor and let’s think about the Rebellious Teenagers 🙂


The most important thing when it comes to the unavoidable (one’s bound to encounter rebels when teaching teenagers, there is no escape from chaos – it marks us all) is to react immediately. Not for us Obama-like approach, no, we have to be swift and smooth and deal with the rebels changing them into the paragons of English students 😉 Or at least try – because in order to change our students (or rather their attitude) we must try to understand them… and it’s not easy, trying to understand people who don’t understand themselves!

There are different reasons for the teenagers to rebel and I’ve come up with a couple of groups (and my ideas of solutions). I really hope the readers will help me to develop the ideas.

  • Rebels against the lesson

Obvious and most common – such student doesn’t feel like learning at all and is probably forced to attend classes by the parents. Frustrating as they are, they are actually the easiest to deal with: all the teacher has to do is to discuss the issue with a student (optionally with parents) and act accordingly. Some of the students may be converted to the Dark Side (I had a rebellious student like that who became a shining star in the class – active, funny and hard-working), but some don’t want to study. At all. They simply sit and sulk. What can I do then?

Nothing. They usually want to be left alone and I cope with that allowing them to participate in the class in a slightly lesser degree. Now, I know it’s methodologically forbidden, but my priority is to let my students have fun. If they don’t – I cannot force them; why, I believe that would do more harm than good regarding both the troublesome student (stubborn as mules, they can be, teenagers) and the group (why is the teacher paying so much attention to the student who doesn’t even care and not to me… well, I can just copy that behaviour to be in a centre of attention!)

Some of them quit the course (I usually talk about it with their parents – what’s the point of forcing somebody to do something they clearly hate?), but most of them do change and after some time they forget they had hated the lessons at all 🙂

  • Rebels against the teacher

I’ve always believed teaching is like any other relationship – sometimes it works against all odds, sometimes you dislike your teacher/student at first sight – it does happen and it’s nobody’s fault, really, it’s just a part of being a teacher; some students love you, some are indifferent, some hate you and wish you were dead. I remember having an issue with a student who had a problem with me being a woman – he got a male teacher and everything was fine.

Well, in such situation changing the teacher is the only option I’ve tried – I have no problems with mentioning such issues to the management, such things are bound to happen and should be solved as soon as possible.

  • Rebels against the rules

Any rules, yeah 🙂 Whatever you do is wrong, and you don’t know if it’s because of you, English, school… Well – mostly it’s because of fun and desire to be in the centre of attention. I think we all know such teenagers – pretending to be idiots and enjoying it.

Well, with me – the Evil Teacher – I simply grant their wishes… actually, I overflow them with what they think they want 🙂

If somebody pretends to be an idiot – I speak to him clearly, slowly and using basic vocabulary; the student gets annoyed in less than 10 minutes and starts to behave normally.

If somebody wants to be in the centre of my attention I give him all my attention (don’t worry, the group enjoys such scene immensely and it usually takes up to 10 minutes) ending each sentence with isn’t it so, sweetheart / right, love / what do you think, dear?

Believe me, after 10 minutes they stop playing stupid and behave normally (if it’s possible, we’re talking about teenagers 🙂 ). Well, most of them.

Some of them don’t – and that’s the most important group, though not the most common. Those students clearly lack their parents’ attention and somehow place the teacher in a parent’s role. It’s a serious thing and I put such students in the last category:

  • Problematic students

Aww, an itchy spot, those. Some students behave rebelliously while not being rebels at all and it takes a lot of experience, patience and good observation skills to spot the problem… especially that the parents usually don’t feel like mentioning those problems to the teacher (why? another unexplained mystery of the universe).

I have had some unusual students like that – Asperger Syndrome, family problems, pathological upbringing… well, we all know that those students exist. Probably, as teenagers, they don’t even expect us to notice their problem, usually being neglected and labeled as rebels without a case. But I think it is our role: to spot those problems and try to help those children.

And that’s why, I believe, for the sake of the last group, we should approach every rebellious student individually, patiently – and immediately.


One thought on “What shall we do with a rebellious student…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.