Understanding the Differences Between Disruptive & Dangerous Behavior

There is a distinct difference between students who are being disruptive to the classroom environment, and students that are exhibiting dangerous and troubling behavior. The below table provides some examples. The subsequent sections will walk you through how to address these when and if they do occur in the classroom.  

Disruptive Behaviors vs. Dangerous Behaviors
Taking/making calls, texting, using smart phones for social media, etc.   Direct communicated threat to professor or another student such as: “I am going to kick your ass” or “If you say that again, I will end you.”
Interruptions such as frequent use of the restroom.   Throwing objects or slamming doors.
Entitled or disrespectful talk to the professor or other students.   Conversations that are designed to upset other students such as descriptions of weapons, killing, or death.
Arguing grades or “grade grubbing” for extra points after the professor requests the student to stop.   Objectifying language that depersonalizes the professor or other students.
Excessive sighs or eye rolls or other gestures that disrupt the class environment.   Prolonged nonverbal, passive-aggressive behavior such as sitting with arms crossed, glaring or staring at staff, and refusing to speak or respond to questions or directives.
Poor personal hygiene, drowsiness, notable lack of participation that makes it difficult to continue a conversation or teach class.   Self-injurious behavior such as cutting or burning, including during a meeting or in class, or exposing previously unexposed self-injuries.

The examples listed above are just a few types of challenging behaviors that students may exhibit in the classroom. These types of behavior can be extremely disruptive to the classroom environment, but they can be handled in a relatively non-disruptive manner if some preliminary steps have been put into place.