How to Manage Behavioral Disruptions in the Classroom

Posted by on October 3rd, 2017

Although not as common as within K-12 classrooms, adult education classes occasionally have behavior disruptions. As an instructor you will need to tailor your classroom management approach to meet the specific challenges presented.

Solutions such as setting norms, managing expectations and personal communication will allow you to mitigate the problems while maintaining a classroom culture of respect.


Saving questions for a specified time will help the course of instruction flow without disruption. Disruptive behavior within the adult education classroom can vary from unintentional infractions such as late arrival to more deliberate behaviors like the use of offensive language.


Examples of Disruptive Behavior

  • Food and drinks
  • Interruption of instructor or peers
  • Late arrival
  • Leaving class frequently
  • Mobile device distractions
  • Monopolizing discussions
  • Offensive/aggressive language or behavior.
  • Side-bar conversations
  • Sleeping/Inattentiveness
  • Undermining instructor authority


Disruption Management Techniques


Setting Norms

Work with your students on the first day of class to establish the norms for your classroom meetings. Allowing them to participate in the creation of the norms as a way to get their buy-in. Their buy-in and agreement lends to fewer chances of disruption. Examples of norms may include:

  • Begin and end on time.
  • Stay on topic during discussions.
  • Mobile devices only permitted during breaks.


Personal Communication

Within the adult classroom it is particularly important for you to maintain a culture of mutual respect and understanding between adults. When addressing a disruption, try to speak with the person privately. During your conversation, be sure to confront the behavior and not the person. Your personal communication regarding the issue may help uncover the root cause of the behavior and give you the opportunity to recommend possible solutions.


Manage Expectations

Setting and reviewing expectations for behavior and interactions is a significant part of classroom management. It is important that both expectations and consequences are clear.


Save the Questions

In some cases questions can pose a distraction to the flow of instruction. Choosing to save questions for the end of a lesson delivery will allow you to stay on track. Establish a practice for holding the questions. This practice may be as informal as having students jot them down at their seats, or you might formally establish a whole group “parking place” for questions so that questions are not forgotten.


The effective use of classroom management techniques can minimize disruptions within the adult education classroom. Setting norms and expectations helps to establish the overall tone of your classroom.


The classroom management techniques you use should address the disruptions with a level of dignity and maintain a culture of respect. Moreover, continued disruptions should have clear consequences for elimination. Overall, effective classroom management fosters a greater opportunity for student learning and success.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *