Welcoming Students Back To Class After Discipline Issues

W. Stephen Parker
W. Stephen Parker
Middle/High School Principal; M.A. in Educational Leadership
Student wearing a backpack entering a computer classroom.

Discipline issues with students have always been as much a part of school as taking notes and studying for big exams. How we deal with students at the beginning of a discipline issue is important so as to correctly identify and appropriately administer consequences for inappropriate behavior. Consequently, appropriate interaction with the student upon their return is also very important.

The Importance of Welcoming a Student Back

The teacher has a duty to welcome a student back into the classroom and help them to feel that they belong there. If a teacher treats the student differently than the other students, chances are that the student feels alienated and this feeling could cause further behavior issues. The teacher should be warm and friendly to the student and strive to non-verbally assure the student that the issue is behind them and we are ready to move forward. The teacher should also monitor the other students and be prepared to quickly quench any discussion or teasing about the former discipline issue.

Appropriately welcoming a student back into the classroom not only shows the student that they are accepted, it also shows the other students that making a mistake does not have to cause permanent ramifications. The teacher can use the return of a student from a discipline issue to teach that student and the entire class that people make mistakes, but we must forgive and move forward together. The teacher can gain a lot of valuable respect from the offending student as well as the entire class.

How to Welcome a Student Back

A teacher can go a long way toward assuring the student is welcome back to class by simply being warm and positive. Further, a genuine smile from the teacher can assure the student that they are still an important member of the class. The teacher can and should also strive to help the student get caught up on what they have missed. If this is possible during class without holding others back or calling undue attention to the student, then the teacher should do this. For example, the teacher could give the student a few pointers during seat work time to help them get up to speed.

If a major amount of time has been missed, the teacher might want to hold the student a few minutes after class to help them get their bearings. This few minutes after class can also solidify the student-teacher relationship and go a long way to helping them feel like everything is going to be alright. The teacher should also help to measure the amount of make-up work given so as to not overwhelm and ultimately frustrate the student. Going too far too fast could result in another behaviorial situation.

Promote Positivity

By positively welcoming a student back into the classroom after a discipline issue, the teacher sets the tone for the student to try to do better. By encouraging the student and allowing them to know they are ok in your room, you can guide the student to practice self-control. This is especially true if the student seems to be heading toward another episode of inappropriate behavior. By carefully monitoring the student and the classroom, the teacher can hopefully curb any recurrence of bad behavior before it starts with positive reinforcement.

Again, the teacher must also monitor other students in the classroom to make sure they do not promote bad behavior by the student that has just returned. This is also an excellent time for a teacher to promote good behavior. The teacher can choose to do this in the entire classroom setting, or individually at the end of class. By taking the time to reward good behavior, the teacher hopefully encourages the continuation of good behavior.

As I stated at the beginning, discipline issues have always been part of the classroom setting, and they will always continue to occur. As the teacher, it is imperative that you properly manage your classroom and make sure students know your expectations. However, just because they know, invariably some students are going to sometimes act out and have to be removed from the classroom. We as educators are vigilant to teach the core principles of our subject area. We do not expect the students to come in, know all the material, and master it immediately. The same goes with discipline in the classroom. We must teach appropriate behavior and not simply expect all students to come to our classroom already knowing how to act.

The student was your student in your classroom before the discipline issue occurred. This same student is still your student when they come back. It is your responsibility to use the issue as a teachable moment in their life. Make sure that your student knows that you still consider them your student. Make sure they know that you still want the very best for them. By promoting this positive relationship there is a good chance for a positive outcome not only with this individual student but in your entire classroom. All of your students are watching your reaction. Rest assured the student returning is watching to see what your reaction to their return is as well. Make sure they know you’re glad to see them again.

graduate program favicon

Looking for a graduate program?

We can help you find a graduate program.

Our accessible staff is dedicated to providing a smooth and supportive admissions process for busy teachers.

By subscribing you agree to receive marketing emails, and newsletters from us. See privacy policy.