Behavioral issues are one of those sensitive subjects that might feel uncomfortable to discuss.

But trust me, it is important to discuss and address these issues so you can foster a positive learning environment for your students! 

Ignoring the problems would be doing both you and your students a disservice! 

I know that it might feel overwhelming and it can be hard to know where to start. But don’t worry! Here are some ways you can approach this topic.

1. Start with clear expectations 

Establish some rules at the start of the school year. You can also invite your students to contribute their ideas about what they think would be good for the class. Once everyone agrees on the rules, you can print them out and stick it in the front or in the back of the classroom. 

Setting clear rules and expectations is an invaluable tool to create a behavioural framework so your students can learn to self-manage in the classroom. Knowing children and teenagers, you will probably still have to deal with the occasional chaos, but at least this can help you minimize them! 

However, remember that the rules need to be clear. 

I mean, think about it! 

It’s hard to obey rules that don’t seem to serve any apparent purpose, right? 

I for one am not sure why we can only bring a ridiculously small amount of liquid into a plane. I mean, I still obey that rule, but grudgingly, and only because the alternative is that I won’t be able to ride the plane and reach my destination. 

The same goes for your students! They need to know why the rules are created and what purpose they serve! 

2. Use positive language 

Listen, we all have feelings, right?

So, naturally, we just respond better to positive talks! 

What does this look like in practice?

Well, for example, instead of saying “stop talking” you can say “let’s focus on our work!” 

It’s pretty mind blowing how something as simple as your choice of words can really impact the atmosphere you create in your classroom! 

3. Be specific when addressing behaviours 

When discussing behavioural issues with a specific student or with the whole class, be specific. 

Your students are not mind readers (though it’d be cool if they were!) 

So, be specific about the behaviour you want to address and provide them with examples of the kind of behaviour you want to see. 

Bottomline is, avoid generalization

4. Encourage self-reflection 

! Self-reflection is a powerful tool that can help students learn and grow in the classroom. The good thing about self-reflection is that, as the name suggests, it implores us to look within ourselves. As a result, students won’t feel shamed, as is often the case when teachers point out their mistakes.

Self-reflection can help students become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Through self-reflection, they can learn how their words and actions impact themselves and others. 

Self-reflection can also help students to enhance their motivation by giving students a sense of ownership and responsibility for their own actions, 

5. Use collaborative problem solving 

It’s crucial to involve students to find the best solutions. 

One of the main benefits of collaborative problem solving is that it empowers students to take responsibility for their behavior. Collaborative problem solving also helps us as teachers to respect students’ autonomy and help them feel valued and respected. 

Another benefit? 

Collaborative problem solving also help strengthen students’ sense of community as students learn to work together and support one another. 

6. Use positive reinforcement 

Sometimes, it’s just easier to spot negative behaviours. 

Negative behaviours might be easier to notice, but we also should make an effort to spot positive behaviours too!

When students exhibit positive behaviours, acknowledge and reinforce it with positive feedback, such as praise and compliments. 

You can also give them stickers, positive notes, and many more! There are lots of ways to show positive feedback. 

It’s important to remember that the reward should be immediate, right after they do the positive action. Giving immediate feedback reinforces the behaviour and help students understand which behaviours are desirable. 

7. Seek support 

Don’t be ashamed to seek support from other teachers!

Needing support doesn’t make you a bad teacher. On the contrary, it shows that you show enough self awareness to know where something is beyond your capabilities. 

Seeking support shows proactiveness so that the matter can be resolved that best benefits everyone. 

Collaborating with others can provide additional perspectives, insight, and resources for address the issue effectively, 


Chances are, you will face some kind of behavoural issues during your teaching career. 

It’s important to remember that oftentime students with behavioural issues are not intending to disrupt the class or undermine your authority as a teacher. 

To put it simply, it’s not personal! So, remember to always keep your cool! 

Most of the time, a kind voice and listening ears can go miles in improving behavioural issues. 

Teaching can definitely be tiring, but it’s also extremely rewarding! So, keep your spirit up and let’s make today our best yet! 

Do you want to develop yourself as an educator?

At IELC, we give you the opportunity to join a great team, develop yourself, and make a difference to Indonesia’s future by teaching English the right way to the next generation of English learners. 

You will also get access to continuous training and professional development and get to meet fantastic, like-minded colleagues and team members. 

Take the first step to enjoy a supportive and fun working environment, develop yourself, and get a rewarding job with IELC.


Anthony McCormick 

IELC Managing Director