Developing Relationships with Challenging Students

It’s pretty easy to pick out your most challenging student(s) within the first few days of school. Instead of panicking and hoping his/her parents get transferred to Guam, try these strategies for developing a relationship:

            1. Make a personal connection. In most cases, when a student feels you really care about him/her, behavior issues can be significantly reduced. Ask her/him about hobbies, interests, weekends, families and anything else you can think of.

            2. Give the power back. If a student exhibits negative behavior when asked to complete a specific kind of task, chances are she/he is attempting to distract from a deficit or avoid an uncomfortable situation that you can’t see. Determine if there are actions you can take to make the student feel more powerful or less vulnerable. Remember, these are kids trying to figure out how to navigate life. Success now leads to success later in life.

            3. Inclusion not isolation. Feeling included is a basic human need. Isolating students for being disruptive adds to the feeling of exclusion and rejection. Build a strong student to student environment where students want to be with each other and encourage one another. Classroom Circles are a great strategy to build inclusion. You can read about them here: