It’s going to happen. You find yourself in a challenging situation with a challenging student. 


A student threatens to leave the class.

A student steals something off your desk.

A student throws an object.

A student physically harms or touches another student. Or you.


In a split second, you have to assess your options and their potential outcomes and act appropriately.


In some cases, your first instinct might be physical.

To break up the fight.

To grab the pencil back.

To physically block the door.

To take the cell phone away.


While your intentions are pure, these methods can cause more harm than good and have been proven to be ineffective.

For this reason, all schools have very strict “no touching” policies when dealing with physical contact between any adult and students.


There should never be physical contact between an educator and the student’s person or belongings (e.g., a packback).  

Your tap on the shoulder or pat on the back might be harmless in your eyes, but you never know how this may be perceived and interpreted by a student - particularly a student you have met that day (which is common as a substitute).

The best way to effectively manage disruptive behavior is prevention, de escalation, and finally utilizing school administration.


Keep in mind:

  • Any form of physical contact (even a slight tap) with a student or their property is always to be avoided with any student. This includes special education students

  • No touching policies are strictly enforced by schools

  • Any form of contact can be misunderstood or misinterpreted by students and/or school staff

  • If a student threatens to leave the classroom, we suggest using your voice to control the situation by staying calm and outlining the repercussions of the choice a student is considering making

  • If a student insists on leaving the classroom, let them and notify the office while staying with the remaining students