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Top Mistakes You Might Be Making When Students Aren’t Listening to You

The excitement of starting your teaching career can quickly fade when your students aren’t listening to you. If you’re facing this challenge, know that you’re not alone. Managing a classroom is one of the most demanding aspects of teaching. Today, we’re here to help you avoid the top five mistakes that might be causing your students not to listen and, more importantly, to provide solutions that can turn your class into one of the most well-behaved in the school.

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#1 Taking Away Recess

The first mistake teachers make when their students aren’t listening to them is taking away recess. This is a common practice and although it is tempting, taking away a student’s recess can bee seen as a form of punishment. 

Surprisingly, 86% of teachers have used this method, but studies show it’s ineffective. Oftentimes when you take away a student’s recess you are not teaching them a lesson. Instead, the student will simply label themselves as a “bad kid” and will find it difficult to turn their day around in the future.

Instead, find out why this student isn’t listening to you and rely on teaching procedures on what the expectations are in class. Whenever possible, it is highly recommended that you find a “natural consequence” as opposed to taking away recess. An example of this could be if a student isn’t listening to you during whole group, make sure to review the expectations and procedures for whole group instruction. 

#2 Stopping Class to Address Behavior

The second mistake you might be making if your students aren’t listening to you is that you are stopping the class to address the behavior. Interrupting your lesson to address a student’s behavior can lead to power struggles and loss of credibility.

Oftentimes instead of teaching the student and class a lesson, you are embarrassing the student in front of their peers and they may be tempted to snap a remark back. Other students might also start to be disruptive because they subconsciously take note that you are paying attention to the “negative” behavior in class.

Instead, it is recommended to learn alternative methods to maintain control while keeping the learning environment positive. Some strategies include proximity, pointing out the students who ARE following expectations and practicing the expectations in class as a whole WITHOUT singling a student out.

#3 Clip Charts

Another mistake you might be making if your students aren’t listening to you is relying on clip charts. If you are not familiar with them, clip charts are different levels of where a student stands in regard to their behavior for that day. Typically every student starts at a certain level and they can clip up or down based on the choices they make in class. 

Clip charts can be detrimental if your students aren’t listening to you for several reasons. The first reason is students spend their day comparing each other and how they are doing. Another reason they aren’t effective is sudents see that they are labeled “bad” for a choice they made. The next reason why clip charts aren’t recommended is students are publicly humiliated if they make a mistake. 

According to Teacher clipcharts have even been shown to “Intensify anxious behavior and decrease engagement.” One Fab Teacher has a video has a video about clip charts you can watch that by clicking here.

Instead of relying on clip charts, it is highly recommended that you use a more positive strategy like a super improver wall. You can learn more about them in this book. Or download a free one by clicking here. 

#4 Not Reviewing or Teaching Procedures

The fourth mistake you might be making if your students aren’t listening to you is you haven’t taught your procedures thoroughly or you haven’t reviewed them consistently. Procedures are the key to a smoothly running classroom. 

Oftentimes we may FEEL like we explained the expectations thoroughly enough, but often times students need procedures modeled, practiced, and discussed multiple times for it to become a habit.

This is the first place you should be going if your students aren’t listening to you. I highly recommend you check out this post where I talk more about how you can teach procedures in an effective way. 

#5 Not Building a Strong Relationship

The final mistake you may be making if your students aren’t listening to you is that you aren’t focusing enough on building a strong relationship with your students. Strong classroom management starts with building a solid relationship with your students. 

As the saying goes if your students don’t trust you they won’t learn from you. That’s why it’s recommended that you intentionally building a strong relationships with your students over the next couple of weeks. 

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Get to know your students interests outside of school
  • Share some of your interests outside of school
  • Get to know about your student’s home life
  • Check in and praise them throughout the day.

Wrap Up:

In summary, the five common mistakes you might be making when your students aren’t listening to you are:

  • Taking Away Recess
  • Stopping Class to Address Behavior
  • Using Clip Charts
  • Not Reviewing or Teaching Procedures
  • Not Building a Strong Relationship

If you found these insights valuable and want to learn more, check out our 3-day Classroom Management Challenge. Transform your classroom management in just five days.


See you next time, teacher bestie!



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