Let’s face it. Some students are hard to work with for a litany of reasons. Maybe you are experiencing a challenging year in your classroom. Before you throw in the towel or give up hope, read this list of DOs and DON’Ts when encountering students who push you to the brink.

DO know your students crave your love and attention even though they may not know how to ask for it (you can still love and not let them” walk all over you“)
DO NOT get discouraged that you are not doing enough for them (sometimes progress is slow but there is still progress)
DO expect them to communicate with you (it just might mean you have to “listen” to their behavior instead of them using conventional means)
DO NOT take it personally when they display challenging behavior (remember…it is not about you)
DO have high expectations for their academic work and their behavior (they need someone to believe in them)
DO NOT “poke the bear” when there is no need to (no…I’m not saying students with challenging behavior are bears – it is only a expression)
DO allow them to explore things that they are interested in (special interests and hobbies can unlock creativity when used wisely)
DO NOT give up on them…ever (“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.” ― Thomas Edison)
DO take an interest in who they are (invest some time in really getting to know their likes and dislikes)
DO NOT forget to offer multiple ways for them to show what they know or to communicate how they feel (can you say Universal Design for Learning?)
DO enjoy their happy and/or joyful moments (sometimes they are few and far between)
DO NOT forget to play lots of music in the classroom and have fun (we all need a little more fun ya know?)

I hope these 12 reminders have inspired you to keep going even if you feel lost and hopeless. In addition to the above suggestions, I would recommend finding someone to talk to that you trust. We all need to share our frustrations in a safe place and be encouraged in our teaching practice.

Thanks for your time and attention.

Photo Credit: Rusty Clark

What are some helpful strategies that have been effective for you when working with challenging students? Tell us about them in the comments section below!