Help! A Student Looked Me in the Eyes and Said, “We Aren’t Going to Behave


Every teacher has likely encountered a challenging student or class that refuses to cooperate. When a student looks you in the eye and declares, “We aren’t going to behave,” it can feel like a slap in the face, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. This article will discuss strategies for dealing with such situations and offer advice on how to regain control of your classroom.

Understanding the Root Cause:

Before jumping to conclusions, try to understand why a student is acting this way. There could be various reasons behind their behavior, such as personal issues at home, conflict with peers, lack of motivation, or even underlying learning difficulties. Take some time to observe the students’ demeanor and talk to them privately if possible. Understanding their perspective can provide valuable insight into their actions and help you develop specific strategies for managing their behavior.

Building Trust and Rapport:

Establishing trust and rapport with your students is essential for creating a safe and inclusive learning environment. When students know that they can depend on you and feel comfortable discussing issues, they are more likely to cooperate in class. To build trust, show genuine concern for their well-being, actively listen when they share their thoughts with you, and provide opportunities for them to express themselves in non-threatening ways.

Setting Expectations:

Clearly outline classroom rules and expectations from the beginning of the school year. Be consistent in enforcing them and treat all students fairly when consequences need to be given. Recognizing positive behavior can also make a significant impact; praise students when they meet expectations or go above and beyond.

Engaging Lessons:

Creating engaging lessons that cater to different learning styles will encourage students to be active participants in your class instead of simply ignoring instructions. Incorporate technology, multimedia presentations, group work, hands-on activities, and debates to create varied and stimulating learning experiences.

Getting Support from Colleagues and Administration:

You don’t have to face challenging situations alone. Reach out to colleagues or mentors for advice, as they may have experienced similar situations and could offer valuable insight. Additionally, involve administration if needed, especially when it comes to ensuring student safety and well-being.


When faced with a defiant student, remember not to take things personally, and remain calm and composed. By understanding the root cause of their behavior, building trust and rapport, setting clear expectations, creating engaging lessons, and seeking support from colleagues and administration, you can regain control of your classroom and encourage positive behavior change.

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