Monday, November 29, 2010

Should a teacher walk out of class in response to disruptive students?

Based on comments to this Inside Higher Ed piece, "Should Profs Leave Unruly Classes?", the majority of readers think the answer is "no" - that the entire class shouldn't have to suffer because of the bad behavior of a few.  (Trying to deal constructively with disruptive students rather than throwing in the towel is another reason offered by IHE's readers). 

Here's a good, representative take on how to deal with these situations:

As the faculty member in the room I am responsible for the classroom. While walking out did convince some portion of the class to complete readings before class -- I also belatedly realized that there were more constructive ways to engage the class.

Disruptive behavior (I care less about discreet testing or web use) is something we are obliged to deal with directly. Be the adult in the room and call it out.

It is rude and unfortunate but if directly addressed to those responsible -- is readily resolved. Enforce a reasonable but firm code of conduct as the one in charge of the room. Yes, it is uncomfortable and will chill discussion for the rest of the given meeting of the class but the rude ones will quickly learn to behave or go elsewhere.

Not only will the remaining students appreciate your action but those you reprimand or eject might learn that there is a cost to rude behavior.

Set an example -- or if you wish -- take advantage of a teachable moment.

You can read the article, as well as the numerous reader comments, here.


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