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Restlessness, disrupted teaching, inattentiveness – is that necessary?

Restlessness, disrupted teaching, inattentiveness - is that necessary?
Restlessness, disrupted teaching, inattentiveness - is that necessary?

You are well prepared. If it went the way you wanted it, this would be a perfect lesson. But then that: the students are restless, unable to concentrate, there are always disruptions, warnings, and interruptions in lessons. Why is that and what can be done about it. Restlessness, disrupted teaching, inattentiveness – is that necessary.

Especially when you stand in front of a class for the first time, you should follow a few golden rules in order to avoid giving class disruptions a chance at all.

  • Don’t set your expectations too high.
  • Go to class as relaxed and confident as possible.
  • There is one thing you should be aware of: you are the boss. Which does not mean that you are now dictatorial and dominant, but that you demand respect from your students.
  • Imagine, because the students are excited to see who they are looking at. But think about how much you want to reveal about yourself personally.
  • Perhaps you will also do a complete round of introductions, for example in the form of short partner interviews. That loosens up the atmosphere.
  • And: make your subject interesting in this first lesson. Delight or surprise your students. You can distribute formal information about the transparency of grades, teaching materials or homework as an information sheet or place it in one of the next few lessons.

But even if the first lesson went well, it won’t be long before the first disruption to the lesson, because restlessness and disruptions are part of everyday teaching life. It’s good if you are adequately prepared for it.

Think about how you can deal aggressively and confidently with teaching disruptions. Just ask the students why they are feeling uneasy. Most of the time they will have precise answers ready. If special stress such as heat, previous or upcoming class work are given as reasons, then you can adjust your lessons ad hoc to this class situation. In the event of a dispute or special occurrence, it can make sense to address the students’ concerns instead of continuing the lesson undeterred.

Also, be self-critical of discipline issues and ask yourself whether your lessons are exciting and appropriately challenging. Boredom, under challenged, overwhelmed or other characteristics of poor teaching are often causes of restlessness and teaching disruptions. The more students enjoy your class, the less energy they will spend on disruption.

Personal concept

It is helpful if you develop a personal concept of how you want to react to disturbances. The best way to do this is to write down all the disturbances that you remember for a school week after each lesson. For example: Verbal disturbances like interfering, provoking, chatting. Lack of willingness to learn such as disinterest, sideline activities, inattention. Motor restlessness such as fidgeting, tilting, walking around. Aggressive behavior such as insulting, threatening, outbursts of anger, damage to property, attacks on people.

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Discuss these situations with your trainer, other trainee teachers and teachers and find out about their strategies. Then you can create your personal concept of how you want to deal with teaching disruptions in the future. This gives you security in the specific situation.

However individual your concept may be, there are at least two cornerstones that belong to every concept: rules and consequences.

Formulate the rules as clearly as possible, discuss them with the class and then write down the solutions. This avoids unnecessary discussions in the future because you can refer to them again and again. These rules should be understandable and not too extensive. In addition, make sure that the wording is binding without “should” and “can” and that the statements do not appear as a prohibition but as a requirement. Rules should relate in particular to dealing with one another, the course of the lesson, working in groups and behavior during breaks.

Reaction and consequences

The rules also include consequences in the event of rule violation. If students are not sure about the consequences or if the consequences are vague, then they will take the rules less seriously. Important: The consequences of non-compliance must be clear to the learners beforehand. But what could the consequences be? Here, too, your personal concept comes into play.

For example, students get a line if they speak unsolicited. With three lines you have to do something for the community. Or they get an additional task. This should make sense in such a way that it helps the student, or even better the learning group as a whole. This can be a presentation or the production of exercise material on the current topic. You can also implement individual students or ask them to reflect on their behavior in writing.

And then, when the class does indeed go smoothly, don’t forget to praise the students and possibly come up with a reward.


It is of course best to prevent disruptions in advance. Tension and an irritable atmosphere often lead to behavior problems and restlessness in the classroom. It is rather counterproductive to face them with disciplinary harshness. So if you feel that concentration and the will to learn are decreasing and that resistance and aggression are increasing, then you would be better off using another tried-and-tested means: relaxation. Insert minutes of relaxation in which the students consciously inhale and exhale and relax their muscles. After long, sedentary phases of concentration, the students can also take some exercise in the classroom. Even if you might initially think that important learning and teaching time would be lost with these exercises, the opposite is more the case: relaxation and movement ensure that the students are calmer and more receptive afterwards.

Communication traps

Communication also plays an important role in the event of disruptions in class. Clear messages are crucial. Because as a rule – at least now – you do not want the pupil to give lengthy explanations for his behavior, but rather that the lessons continue as smoothly and effectively as possible.

Opportunity instead of problem

A good prerequisite for preventing or reducing disruptions to teaching is also calm. Many of the causes have nothing to do with you; they lie outside of the school or in the organizational area. However, teaching disruptions can also be a valuable indication that your lessons are not reaching the students and that you should therefore relate more to the students in terms of content, didactic and methodological aspects. With this perspective, you can also see disruptions in class as an opportunity for a good class development.