Better Discipline Through Ignoring Students?


kids studying
I was reading a book called “Christian Education” by a man named Basil Moreau from the Catholic religious order the Congregation of Holy Cross. It was an old book, so I foolishly didn’t think I’d get much from it. However, I learned a valuable lesson about teaching, discipline, and classroom management perhaps one of the most valuable of all my “education” education. Moreau recommended that sometimes it was best to actually– gasp– ignore misbehaving students.

Many entrenched teachers get in a very controlling mindset. They forget that students are people and somewhat willful ones at that. So, they try to control every aspect of a classroom, right down to a student’s thoughts (yes, some teachers sadly punish “wrong” opinions). However, such a position leads to pushback. For more unruly kids, it practically begs them to defy. Such constant monitoring, for an attention starved child, is a great way to increase their mad comedy skills or an opportunity to prove how cool they are.

Sometimes it really is best to turn a blind eye to certain behavior simply because it will stop it rather than escalate it. If a kid is goofing off and you ignore him and he stops, it’s much better than constantly calling him on it and pushing him to even worse behavior. Sometimes those little annoyances kids create in class are tests. If you notice and escalate, you fail. If you ignore it, you “pass” and they stop.

Obviously, this technique has its limits. You can’t ignore terrible or bullying behavior or just completely turn a blind eye. And, for some students, ignoring them will lead to even more disruptive behavior. However, I’ve found that, especially for the allegedly difficult kids, letting a few things go actually helps in the long run.

So, if you want to be successful at classroom management, don’t try to address every example of misbehavior. Use common sense and know when to let it pass.

About Jonathan Bennett

Jonathan Bennett is an administrator, author, and speaker with a background in teaching. His articles receive over a million hits per year and have appeared in a variety of publications. He is co-owner of the small business Theta Hill, and he also writes for The Popular Teen, The Popular Man and other sites.