Documentation:ISW/Lesson Plan/Theme Session/Classroom Challenges

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Classroom Challenges

This lesson uses the CARD model as a lesson planning framework and uses expressive outcomes rather than learning objectives.

Activity 1: Introducing the Context (5 min)

  • Facilitator A introduces lesson, and expressive outcomes. Facilitator B watches and engages in benign rude behaviour (on phone, picking lint off pants, looking off…
  • Facilitator B asks the participants "have any of you had students engage in your class like this? What do you do? How do you address these behaviours confidently and respectfully with students" Depending on time, facilitators elicit one or two responses from the participants. Today we will be discussing challenges in the classroom and brainstorming strategies and approaches to working through these challenges
  • Facilitators mentions that for this theme session the activity we will be using a role-play and that this type of activity and topic can make people feel vulnerable.
  • The facilitator references the ground roles that the large group has created previously and asks the participants if there are any ground rules that we should add for this activity to make this a safe space to engage in this activity and topics.
  • The facilitator goes over the expressive outcomes for the lesson

Expressive Outcomes

  • Apply strategies for dealing with challenging classroom behaviours
  • Appraise a strategy for dealing with challenging classroom
  • Appreciate that responding to challenging classroom behaviours requires a flexible and holistic approach
  • Experience the CARD model of lesson planning

Activity Role Play (10 min)

The facilitator introduces the role-play activity. For the activity, the participants will be divided into groups of 3 or 4 and each group is given a separate case study. See the case studies at the bottom of the page.

  • One you have got into your group start by reading over the case together.
  • As a group decide who will be instructor, student, observer for the first round. Note: The observer should jot down note or on what happened and general observations from the role-play
  • Role play 3 minutes then switch roles
  • If you become uncomfortable in any role you can tap in/out but try to stick with it if you can
  • Once you have finished playing each role. Discuss together What could have been done before to prevent the behavior? What could have been done during the situation and what could have been done after to deal with the situation.
  • List top 5 strategies (either before, during or after) on flip chart to share with group.


Participants form circle group and facilitator runs a guided reflection using What, So What, Now what as a framework Group debrief


  • Gallery walk participants do a gallery walk of the different top 5 strategies shared. During the gallery walk they focs

Case studies

Student consistently late, absent You’re the sole instructor for a third year undergraduate class held in the winter session, term one. It’s a two hour class held twice a week in the afternoon. You’ve been teaching this class for three years now and feel quite comfortable delivering it. It’s five weeks into the term and overall the class is going well; students seem engaged, a few ask questions and most students passed the first quiz.

You noticed that one student has been consistently late. While you chalked it up to the busyness of the first few weeks of term, the lateness is still an issue. And not only is this student late each class, but they’ve also missed a couple classes. It’s a small class so often when the student arrives late, student are already engaged in learning and the arrival is disruptive. You’re feeling a bit annoyed as the student has never apologized for disrupting class or offered an explanation as to why they’re late.

Class has just ended and you see an opportunity to talk to the student. What do you do?

Student interrupts lesson with many questions You teach a large first year undergraduate course and are two weeks into the spring term. Overall, you enjoy delivering the class, and have worked to incorporate active learning techniques to increase student engagement with their learning. While you pride yourself on supporting student engagement and class discussion, there is one student that you’re having difficulty with. Each class they sit right in front and ask multiple questions, at times tangential, and often asking questions every few minutes. While you told the class you welcome questions, you find this student distracting when delivering the lesson and have noticed other students becoming disengaged when this particular student is speaking. You find yourself growing irritated. How do you proceed?

Student Conflict You are teaching a third-year seminar in Canadian governance. You are facilitating a classroom debate and two students get into an argument about one of the issues that you are debate. One student becomes visibly upset with the discussion and loudly asserts that the other students always attacks his opinions and it is not fair. Both students then sit down and the rest of the class becomes quite awkward and silent through the remainder of the class.

You are concerned that if you do not address this issue it will not only get worse for the students it will also affect the rapport for the class in general? You feel that you need to address this. How would you proceed?

A Motivational Issue You teach a graduate seminar course. One of the students in the course began the course very enthusiastically. However, as the course has progressed this student seems less and less engaged in the class. Some of the student’s behavior seems almost defiant. For example, the student will sigh when you cover certain concepts and will never answer questions brought up in the small seminar class. You are really unsure about what changed for this student and would like to bring it up but are unsure what the next steps would be. The student has been receiving satisfactory grades on all of their assignments. How do you proceed?