Tips for Classroom Management

Faculty and Staff Resource Guide

If you have ever experienced a challenging disciplinary situation in your classroom, you are not alone. The majority of students act in an appropriate and respectful manner, however, there are occasions when students will test the limits of acceptable classroom behavior. Student conduct that substantially or repeatedly interferes with the ability of an instructor to teach or the ability of other students to learn is a violation of our student code of conduct.

Campus Resources

  • Office of Director of Residence Life: 563.589.3438
  • Office of Counseling & Life Services: 563.589.3911
  • Office of International Student Services and Study Abroad: 563.589.3712
  • Office of Learning Support Services: 563.589.3218
  • Office of Safety & Security: 563.589.3333


  • Gail Hayes, Dean for Academic Affairs, Graduate and Adult Studies // 120 Severance Hall // 563.589.3349 //
  • Mike Durnin, Dean of Student Formation // 2nd floor of Peters Commons // 563.589.3270 //
  • Joe Green, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies // 119 Severance Hall // 563.589.3570 //

Reporting Students of Concern

Confronting a Disruptive Student

Confronting a disruptive student can be an uncomfortable, but necessary experience.  If a student’s behavior obstructs or disrupts your ability to teach or the ability of others to learn, you may find the following suggestions helpful.

  1. Clearly articulate rules regarding attendance, tardiness, class participation, academic misconduct, use of electronic devices, and appropriate conduct on the course syllabus.  Specify consequences (i.e., reports to the Dean of Student Formation) and follow through in a fair and consistent manner.  Reference acceptable computer use and email policies where appropriate.
  2. Model professional behavior. Respond to inappropriate remarks in a professional, mature manner.  Put-downs or witty comebacks may escalate a situation or minimize a student concern.
  3. Disruptive students are not always aware that they are bothering others.  Moving closer to the disruptive student, pausing until everyone quiets down, and/or making direct eye contact could make a difference.
  4. When the disruption is isolated to one student, speak privately with the student.  Use “I” messages such as, “When I see you _____________; I feel _______________; and I need the activity to stop.”
  5. Seek consultation from experienced colleagues and/or your department chair.
  6. If the disruption continues, issue a written warning to the student addressing concerns and consequences for non-compliance (i.e., risk of a lower grade if classroom participation is a percentage of the course grade and/or referral to the Dean of Student Formation).
  7. If a student prevents you from moving on to another topic, take control of the discussion, express the need to cover all the material, and invite the student to continue the conversation during your office hours.
  8. If initial strategies are not effective, give the student the option of modifying the undesirable behavior or leaving the class for the remainder of the period.  Instructors may tell a student to leave class temporarily, but adjudication by the Dean of Student Formation is necessary for permanent removal.
  9. If you are seeing a pattern of disruptive behavior, consult with your department chair.  All students are required to comply with regulations set forth in our student handbook.  Inform the Dean of Student Formation if the behavior continues.
  10. Document all incidents and your attempts to resolve the situation in a factual and objective manner, using exact words whenever possible.  Contact the Dean of Student Formation about referring students for disciplinary action.
  11. If a student is making threats of violence to themselves and/or to others, immediately contact 911.  Document the incident(s) and forward the information to the Dean of Student Formation as soon as possible.

 Threats of violent to self and/or others must result in immediate contact to 911.

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Tips for Classroom Management