How to persevere with a 'problem student'?

In my initial interactions with my new class, there is one student that is causing me a lot of issues. I am mainly talking about their classroom behaviour, and the way that it distracts the other students, my lessons and their own learning. I have tried to be patient and employ different strategies to help deal with them, but so far I’m not seeing much back… I don’t want to give up on them, but at points I am honestly finding it hard to persevere with my efforts. What can I do?


Hi Auliciems,

This is a very relevant topic, and something that a lot of young teachers (and educators in general) struggle with on a daily basis. The good news is you’re not alone! In fact, one young pre-service teacher asked this very question at PRAC-E Symposium II to our esteemed panel.

Watch the video, or listen to the audio below, to hear their really valuable answers:


  • A true joy of teaching, even though it might initially look like a frustration, is to be a part of the growth into a well-rounded person.
  • There will be times when you try all year, and you won’t see the fruit of your labor.
  • At times, you will have planted the seed and watered it, but someone else will see the shoots. Growing as a teacher means accepting that process.
  • Often students will return, sometimes years after they have had you as a teacher, and thank you for your efforts. So, even if this student is pushing, keep working with them.

Great question, and thanks for the information, PRAC-E.

I have to agree with Chris on this one. In my experience, sometimes there is just SO much going on with one particular student in their life outside of school, that you have no chance of making any significant improvements with them at that time. They have to be in the right frame of mind to learn effectively, and if there’s stuff going on, like parents splitting up or even drugs/alcohol or physical neglect happening, you’ve got no chance of teaching them Shakespeare that day.

All you can do is not give up on them, not carry grudges over from day to day, and keep trying. Perhaps you can be the one positive role model that they have in their lives?