Appropriate Consequences for Student Misbehavior

Logical Responses for Student Behavior Problems

Schoolboy (11-13) sitting on chair in corridor, side view
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Students will misbehave in class. As teachers, we might not be able to stop all forms of misbehavior before they start. However, we have complete control over our own reactions to student behavioral issues. Therefore, we must choose our responses wisely, making sure that they are appropriate and logical. The old adage, "the punishment must fit the crime," is especially true in a classroom setting. If you choose something illogical, students will learn less than if your response directly relates to the situation, or they might miss out on important information being taught in class that day.

Following are a series of situations that have been chosen to illustrate appropriate responses in your classroom to help establish behavior management. Note that these are not the only appropriate responses, but instead chosen to show the difference between appropriate and inappropriate consequences.

  • A student is late to class.
    Appropriate - The student misses the daily starter or "do-now" activity and loses the points associated with it.
    Inappropriate - The teacher ignores the situation, and the student has no consequences for their tardiness.
    Explanation - Tardiness is a big deal, especially if left unchecked. You should have a tardy policy in place to deal with problem tardies. However, having a daily do now or warm up is a great way to give students an immediate benefit for being to class on time.
  • A student does not bring in his or her homework.
    Appropriate - The student loses ten points off their homework assignment.
    Inappropriate - The student is given the opportunity to work on their homework in class.
    Explanation - If you do not have a grade consequence for late work, students will have no reason to complete their homework in a timely manner.
  • A student does not have a pen or pencil.
    Appropriate - The teacher provides the student with a pen or pencil in exchange for collateral. For example, the teacher might hold on to one of the student's shoes to ensure that the pen or pencil is returned at the end of the class.
    Inappropriate - The student does not have a pen or pencil the entire class.
    Explanation - Students who do not have a writing instrument can not finish any classwork or write down homework assignments and their due dates.
  • A student turns in sloppy work.
    Appropriate - The student is required to rewrite their assignment neatly.
    Inappropriate - The teacher won't accept the homework at all because it is too messy.
    Explanation - While a teacher should expect students to turn in neat work showing good penmanship, the student should be given the opportunity to correct their messiness since they did complete their assignment on time.
  • A student does not have their book in class.
    Appropriate - The student does not have a textbook during the lesson for the day.
    Inappropriate - The teacher gives the student a textbook to use without comment.
    Explanation - If textbooks are required in your day-to-day classroom, it is important for students to remember their texts. It is a rare situation where you have more than a couple of extra textbooks in your class. If students accidentally take an extra text with them, you will have most likely have lost that text forever.
  • A student does not raise their hand but calls out answers instead.
    Appropriate - The teacher does not respond to the student who calls out and does not call on them.
    Inappropriate - The teacher allows individuals to answer without having to raise their hands.
    Explanation - Requiring students to raise their hands is an important part of wait time and effective questioning techniques. If you do not continuously uphold this rule, then students will no longer raise their hands in class.
  • A student uses a curse word in class.
    Appropriate - The teacher gives the student 10 minutes detention.
    Inappropriate - The teacher ignores the curse word.
    Explanation - Profanity should have no place in the classroom. If you ignore it, students will take note and will continue to use it in class. Realize that if the profanity was used against someone else in the class, the consequences should be greater than if a curse word just slips out.