Successfully handling difficult students can become the most joyous moment for both administrators and teachers. This can transform a once devastated school culture to one where children run to school to happily learn. Educators must consider facilitating a positive school environment that ensures that difficult students excel.  

The first challenge to eliminate is how schools determine the difficult student status. Schools replicate Newton’s Third Law of Motion to determine difficult students. Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that when one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body. In elementary terms, Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Students who become a disciplinary challenge reach the difficult status due to schools operating on the principles of Newton’s Third Law of Motion.

Many Black students become victimized by Newton’s Third Law of Motion in the form of the Raccelerate Phenomenon. The Raccelerate Phenomenon follows the same principle as Newton’s Third Law of Motion in that whenever there is a perceived infringement by a Black male against a White female there is a negative overreaction portrayed in the media. Specifically, the Raccelerate Phenomenon states that for every action that a Black male takes against a White female there is an elevated negative reaction towards Black men. In order to eliminate the factors consistent with the Raccelerate Phenomenon, educators can benefit by using the Raccelerate Formula.

Next educators must modify and eliminate nonverbal and verbal factors that help to define difficult students. In many cases, difficult students are a product of the cultural challenges that they face in the classroom. Discrimination against marginalized students is a persistent problem in classrooms throughout the United States. Classroom interaction studies have found teachers discriminate against students who are not White, male, and not middle class.

Educators can contribute to the manifestation of difficult students by their nonverbal and verbal classroom interactions with students. For example, schools and Black student conflict develop from expectation differences related to communication styles. Whites’ dispassionate and detached communication mode creates distrust among Blacks due to its similarity to Blacks who front which occurs when Blacks perceive there is a communication risk factor and chooses to remain silent in Black-White communication encounters.

Teachers, students, and administrators believe teachers who develop positive relationships with students have the ability to make enough self-disclosures that students perceive their teachers as genuine, place an emphasis on mutual respect, and find the right balance between being firm, friendly, and fair. This response to communication risk factors helps to build trust between the teacher and student. Blacks build trust slowly with European Americans, especially after encountering negative stereotyping and discrimination.

Facial expressions have an impact on developing difficult students. Individuals use nonverbal cues to indicate a disliking for another individual by unpleasant facial expressions. Blacks have a high sensitivity to facial expressions, which provides them with superior facial expression and other emotion evaluation skills when compared to other ethnic groups. Teacher facial expressions can convey approval or disapproval which can eliminate or promote the existence of difficult students.

Finally, colleges teach teachers to ensure there is a distance between themselves and the students so the teacher can maintain discipline in the classroom. European Americans are more likely to have close social distance with Mexican Americans when compared to Blacks and prefer to keep their personal space at arm’s length. Hispanic Americans stand close to or side by side instead of face-to-face when talking to another person. Hispanic Americans stand 6 to 8 inches within an arm’s length when talking to another person. Latinos interact at a close distance and frequently touch one another. Latino Americans prefer closer standing distances when compared to North Americans.

Blacks prefer closer social distance when compared to Mexican Americans. Blacks are more likely to touch each other in a conversation when compared to Whites. Individuals who perceive a proximity violator as someone who will provide them with negative rewards will react negatively when the proximity violator moves closer. Maintaining the appropriate or comfortable proximity is associated with a positive effect, friendship, and attraction which will help to better handle difficult students.

Related Articles

Teachers should not give up on ‘difficult’ students

Teachers Union Report Warns Of ‘Crisis’ From Disruptive Student Behavior

Classrooms in Crisis: New statewide report calls student outbursts community issue

All the best,

Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034

(856) 566-3267


Author of:

  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
  • The Raccelerate Formula App
  • Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
  • The Ultimate Guide to Classroom Racism Management
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“Dr. Campbell did his part and now all we have to do is run with it.”
 ~ Tom Coleman ~
Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools

“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.

~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor

“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”

~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President

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