How to Stop Defiance With This 30-Second Classroom Management Strategy

If you want to stop defiance (and who doesn’t?) one of the best ways is to develop a positive relationship with your students. But how are you supposed to do that when you can’t even have a normal conversation without attitude and challenges to your authority?

A Simple Strategy

Stop Defiance With This 30-Second Classroom Management StrategyLuckily there is a simple strategy that can work wonders in stopping defiance. It only takes about 30 seconds and you can start doing it immediately.

You already greet your students at the door as they come in your class, right? If you do, you probably say something like, “Hi (student)! How are you today?” And then maybe you check in homework, or hand out an assignment. Right?

This is all good, but if you want to stop defiance, you may want to take it one step further. You may want to go below the surface and let your students know you really care by adding another simple question to your routine.

After you greet your students by name and ask how they’re doing, what do they usually say? Something like “fine” or “okay” or “good,” right? (And if they are teenagers, they might just grunt or ignore you.)

The Defiance-Stopping Secret Phrase

The secret for stopping defiance comes after that, when you say, “And how are you REALLY?” and then listen. And empathize. Once you have heard their story, you can say something like, “I’m glad you feel happy. Thank you for sharing.” Or “I’m sorry you’re tired. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. Thanks for letting me know.”

When you deliberately invest 30 seconds to find out how your students are feeling, you demonstrate that you care. And students are by far less defiant when they feel respected, heard, and validated.

Now go create a great day for yourself and your students!

Katrina Ayres,

PS – Would you like more practical classroom management strategies that work? Check out the Monday Morning Sanity Boost archives. If you like what you see, you may want to gain access to even more strategies that I only share with Awesome Teacher Nation members. You can join here. It’s free!

Additional Awesome Teacher Nation Resources


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  • The Take-Charge Teacher
  • All The Ways I Screwed Up My First Year of Teaching
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book
  • The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book, Volume 2

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  • Saving Time on Paperwork and Grading
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  • What’s the BEST Classroom Management Strategy?

Online Courses

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  • A Day in the Life of a Substitute Teacher
  • The Substitute Teacher’s Troubleshooting Guide

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