5 Methods to Quell Inappropriateness


A trademark of adolescence is inappropriateness. Learning new things every day, teens love to push the boundaries and try to see how far teachers will let them go. Here are five ways I handle inappropriateness:

1. Boundaries


Although a challenge, teachers have to draw a line and stick to it. Know what type of classroom environment you want and make a line. If students know what is acceptable in your classroom, most won’t push the line.

2. Preventative Measures


Usually when inappropriateness arises, I can sense it coming beforehand. The best and most effective method to quell inappropriateness is to stop it before it happens. When I can feel an inappropriate comment coming, I’ll tell the student to please be considerate of others.

With a notoriously inappropriate student I have, I’ll simply ask him before he answers the question, “Is this going to be an appropriate comment?” Sometimes he smiles slyly and puts his hand down without saying another word. Other times he proceeds to make a comment that is in fact appropriate.

3. Go with It


Sometimes the comments spew from mouths without any warning. When this happens and the comment is harmless, I roll with it so we as a class can move on.

The same notoriously inappropriate commenter once blurted out in class that the campers in the story we were reading “will probably run out of water and have to drink their pee.” The entire class busted a gut immediately. Laughter shrouded the classroom.

Honestly? I laughed hard, too. His comment was relevant and, despite the tactlessness, it was accurate. I laughed and the para yelled at the student and we all moved on. No harm done…well, except the busted gut.

4. Ignore It


I wouldn’t recommend this method in a lot of situations. However, when a student grumbles about the day, I sometimes don’t acknowledge her pity-party. By not giving special attention to the student, sometimes the comments subside when they’re not getting the negative attention they want.

5. Address It


Facing the inappropriate straight-on is often times extremely effective. I’ve had to do this nearly every time we use an internet program called Padlet. I have students create sentences for grammar lessons and add them on the site.

They always test my boundaries. In every class I’ve used Padlet, someone writes an inappropriate comment because the write anonymously – the program does not show “authors.” Three out of four times the inappropriate comments have centered on drugs (I guess kids think drugs are funny?).

When I see an inappropriate comment pop up on the screen, I put on my serious face. I have to reprimand. I say, “We cannot write inappropriate comments. If this continues we will not be working on Padlet anymore.” I then remove the comment and continue with the activity.

Addressing the issue like this typically works because I address the whole class; I don’t single out students because I do not know for sure who wrote the comment, even though I always have a hunch.

If inappropriate comments continue, I say abruptly, “Okay, we cannot handle this activity. Close your laptops. Get started on your assignment.” They can tell I’m disappointed in their behavior and because the fun activity has stopped. The students are disappointed because they absolutely love Padlet, but they cannot write inappropriate comments without a consequence.


Are these methods foolproof? Of course not. Do I always respond in the right way? No. But using these methods have helped me be prepared for those inappropriate comments that inevitably come my way.