The Do’s and Don’ts of Working With an Uncooperative Student


When it comes to working with an uncooperative student, it can be difficult to know how to handle the situation. It is important to remember that while they may not be following the rules or behaving in a way that you would like them to, there are ways to work with them to make the experience better for everyone. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the do’s and don’ts of working with an uncooperative student so that you can better handle the situation.

Do: Talk to Them

When it comes to working with an uncooperative student, the most important thing you can do is talk to them. Show that you care about their opinion and feelings, and are interested in understanding why they aren’t engaging in class or completing assignments. Ask questions and take the time to really listen to their responses. Open-ended questions such as “What’s been going on for you lately?” or “How can I help you succeed in this class?” are good ways to get a conversation started. It’s important to be non-judgmental and offer reassurance that you are there to support them. During this conversation, it is also important to explain your expectations for the student, what behavior is acceptable, and any consequences that may result from inappropriate behavior. Be clear and concise, and make sure to follow through with any promises or warnings you make.

Do: Set Clear Expectations

Setting clear expectations is essential for any student, but especially for those who are uncooperative. Establishing expectations early on helps students understand what is expected of them and gives them something to work towards. Make sure to communicate the expectations clearly and in a way that is easy to understand. If possible, provide written guidelines or a list of rules and make sure they understand what is expected of them.

When setting expectations, it is important to be specific. For example, instead of just saying “Be respectful”, give an example of what this looks like such as “Raise your hand before speaking in class”. Being clear and specific helps students better understand what is expected of them, and also makes it easier to refer back to when reviewing expectations later on. 

Finally, make sure to include consequences for not meeting expectations. This can be either a positive reward or negative punishment depending on what works best for the situation. It is important to emphasize the consequences to help ensure the expectations are followed and respected.

Do: Be Consistent

When working with an uncooperative student, it’s important to be consistent. If you are consistently firm and stick to your expectations, the student will start to recognize that their behavior is not acceptable. Make sure to give them a warning if they break the rules and apply the same consequences each time. Make sure you have clear rules and expectations for the classroom, so the student knows what is expected of them. Consistency is key when dealing with an uncooperative student and it will help them to understand that there are consequences for their actions. It’s also important to stay consistent with your attitude – try to keep a positive attitude no matter what. Showing an uncooperative student that you are consistent and fair will encourage them to behave better.

Do: Keep a Positive Attitude

When it comes to working with an uncooperative student, it’s important to maintain a positive attitude. This can be difficult at times, especially when the student continues to resist and is seemingly uninterested in doing the work you assign. However, it’s important to remain positive and take a step back to analyze what could be going on.

Start by asking questions to get an understanding of where the student is coming from and why they are being uncooperative. There could be underlying issues such as stress or anxiety, or simply a lack of motivation. Showing that you care about their wellbeing and their success can help break down the barriers between you.

Maintaining a positive attitude will also help set the tone for the classroom. Encourage the student and let them know that there are no wrong answers or silly ideas. Validate their ideas and help them realize that learning is a process and mistakes are part of it. 

It can also be beneficial to remain optimistic, even when progress seems slow. Celebrate small successes and focus on progress over perfection. By providing encouragement, you will be able to form a better relationship with your student and they may be more open to participating in class.

Do: Avoid Getting Frustrated

It can be very difficult to stay calm and collected when dealing with a challenging student, but it is important that you do so in order to maintain your composure and keep the situation from escalating. One way to help avoid getting frustrated is to take a break if you need it. Walk away for a few moments and collect yourself, then come back and try again. Additionally, talk to colleagues or an administrator for support if needed. Remember, it’s not about you; it’s about helping the student learn. If you can approach the situation from this perspective, it will be easier to stay positive and patient.