Finding yourself dealing with lots of disruptive behavior and argumentative students lately? During this time of year, I notice that students tend to argue more than usual – almost like they are tired of each other! It makes me upset that they are so hard on each other. Not to mention, it can be a headache to hear all day.

Luckily, I have found some great classroom management tools to help my arguing students.

Setting the Classroom Culture

Disagreements are a part of life, so it’s natural that they would occur in the classroom. Before I ever attempt to improve the arguing, I like to make real-life connections with students.

Have a discussion with your students about why we argue. Sometimes we argue because we feel we have not been treated fairly, or we are upset at someone’s actions – and that is natural. We will meet many people in life who we don’t get along with.

However, we also want students to understand that there is an expectation to respect one another. There are other ways to express our frustration with someone. (It’s important to note that I do tell my students if someone is harming us, then of course the rules are different.)

When discussing arguing as a disruptive behavior with my students, I always put it into real terms for them. I say something like, “We’re around each other for almost 8 hours most days. By now, we’ve noticed things that are kind of annoying about one another. That’s okay. That’s normal. I do not expect you to be friends with everyone in this room. What I do expect is for you to show respect to one another, because everyone deserves to feel welcomed in our room.”

Exercise to Improve Classroom Arguments

After talking with my students about arguing and respect, I dip into my classroom management toolkit for some class building activities. Class builders don’t have to consume your class time. They fit perfectly during brain breaks or morning meetings.

My favorite class builder is compliment time. This involves a cooperative learning structure, so make sure to teach your students this skill prior to the activity. 

Here is how to implement compliment time:

Step 1: Give each student a prompt. Give them time to read and process the prompt. The prompt will ask students to compliment another student’s personality or appearance (ex. You are funny. I like your shoes. Your hair is nice. You work really hard).

Step 2: Have students stand up with a hand raised. This signal shows that they are ready to share their response.

Step 3: When the teacher says “chat”, students will high-five the nearest peer, and they will both take turns sharing their response.

Step 4: After sharing with their partner, students will high-five again and then raise their hand. This indicates that they are now looking for a new partner to share with.

Keep this routine going for a designated amount of time. I use this structure for compliments because it allows students to interact with everyone in the class. 

An alternative to this complement activity is compliment notes. I created this compliment anchor chart and complimenting notes which are perfect as a writing station or morning work time. This will extend compliment time in your classroom through various avenues.

The goal of these compliment exercises is to help students remember and identify the positive traits of their peers. By creating stronger bonds and connections between students, we can resolve issues and disruptive behaviors more easily – and you will see less of those issues to begin with!

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