On my first day, I came to one class electricity stream, they were just smiling in silence. Suddenly, they threw a lizard at me to frighten me. My face turned pale, but I had to be calm even though was very afraid. I told them that I was not afraid with that lizard. I started my lesson by introducing myself, but they did not listen to me. They only talked to each other. I was angry but stayed silent. At that time, I did not know what I should do. Then, I decided to ignore their action. I just taught materials beyond the chemistry curriculum. I had to finish my teaching material. I did not care whether they understand or not. I just wanted to get out of that class. Until I finished my lesson, they still talked to each other. It was my worst time as a new teacher.


The story above is one of my exiciting experiences when I was a beginning teacher at STM. Senior Technical High School (STM) is an occupational high school, which trains students (mostly male- skills necessary) to become mechanics and electricians. Many STM school had reputation as not-so-good schools due to many problems such as students’ low academic achievements and misbehaviors. Some of STM students are drug dependents. They were also involved in brawling with students from other schools, which often led them to injury and had problems with the police.

I had experiences as a beginning teacher to teach at STM for two years. The exciting experiences such as they threw a lizard that tremendously frightened me at the first time, shape me to be a reflective and creative teacher. I had to face the class, which was very noisy. They did not sit on their chairs. They ran around like kindergarten students and threw “ball papers” at each other. Furthermore, they were bored, sleepy, and unable to concentrate when I taught because they used drugs. Sometimes I found stones in their bag. They make use of stones to fight with other students. However, those experiences taught me many meaningful reflective teaching. Because, then I did some improvement in teaching strategies and personal approach with my students. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to investigate the teacher competences to deal with students’ misbehaviour as a case study at STM, especially for the beginning teacher. It also informs the pedagogical universities to prepare their students to cope with those problems.

A Beginning Teacher and Students’ Misbehaviour

Most research studied students’ misbehaviour state that relationship between teacher beliefs and competence with students’ behaviour (Ulerick & Tobin 1989; Brophy, 1988; Doyle, 1986 as cited in Weinstein, 1996). Furthermore, a recent survey show found that “disruptive student behavior to be a major learning inhibitor (Seidman, 2005). In Indonesia, this research is very important, because most teachers have to prevent and cope with those problems. It is also unexplored area, comparing to other high school, there are few number of STM schools in Indonesia. Therefore, in Indonesia, most educational researchers did not explore it. In addition, most of beginning teachers do not want to teach STM because of students’ misbehaviour. Nevertheless, beginning teachers have to aware with STM conditions.

Based on my previous experiences, as a new teacher I had expectations that my students would have well behaved, even though I realized that most senior high school students do not like chemistry. In university, my lecturers taught me teaching methods, evaluation, and class management. I also had a field teaching experience in the good reputation school, which has mix class and well-behaved students. According to Schlosser & Balzano (2002), the field-teaching experience is a powerful motivator for beginning teacher. However, I was still shock because when I graduated, I had misbehavior students, all of them were boys, and they did not like chemistry. It like I jump up from wonderful world to messy world, theory to practice. Kyriacou, 1997, (as cited in Mulholland, 2003, p. 880) claim that it is difficult for beginning teacher not only to apply theory into practice but also to develop new perspective. Furthermore, according to Mackler (2005, p.2) “a false assumption that there is theory-pure, untainted and rationally perfect-and there is life-messy, unpredictable, and in need of repair.” However, that false assumption has to overturn. Teachers have to use their creativeness to shape the wonderful theory into practice. However, the common problem is “when behaviour problems arise, teachers often avoid creative instructional approaches because they have to deal with increased misbehaviors” (Manning & Bucher, 2007, p.6). Therefore, they have to prepare their skills, especially in classroom management. My experience on this case study motivated me to change my classroom management, teaching strategies, knowledge on applied subject, and personal approaches.

a. Classroom Management

Classroom management is strategies to support teaching and learning process, which are controlling misbehaviour and effective teaching (Manning & Bucher, 2007, p.4). In general, classroom management is important, especially to convince students’ behave. In addition, according to Wang, Haertel, & Walbergs, 1993 as cited in Kullina, Cothran, & Requalos (2006, p.39), “classroom management had the largest effect on student achievement. Furthermore, one model of classroom management is assertive discipline ( Malmgren, Trezek, & Paul, 2005, p.36) which is developed by Lee Canter in 1970. Eventhough, it focuses on behaviour control through reward and punishment, but sometimes it works for conduct students’ positive behaviour.

However, negative reinforcement such as physical punishments do not work. In my case,, I gave my students physical punishment. Sometimes, I punished them for running around yard because I found stones in their bag. They make use of stones to fight with other students. I was very angry with them, but the punishment did not work because other teacher already did even more punishments. Although they were given punishments, they would still brawl with other students. Sometimes, they hid the stones in the rubbish bin outside the school. They were very clever and careful to hide something they could use as weapons to fight. Another day, during my class, some of them were very noisy. It was a common perception that noisy class because of students’ misbehaviour is the effect of teacher incompetence (Amada, 1994 as cited in Seidman, 2005 p.44). Then, I reminded them but they went on talking. I asked them to leave the class. I hope that they will be deterred, but it did not happen. They went to canteen to eat and chat again. I learnt that the punishments were no longer work for them. They are used to endure punishments from other teachers.

Classroom management relates to prevent from students’ misbehaviour. Therefore, teachers have to manage it appropriately. In my experiences, establish the rules and rewards are effective to conduct positive classroom environment (Wong and Wong, 1998 as cited in Ackerman, 2006, p.39). Because they used to receive the punishments, which did not influence them anymore, positive reinforcements will be more effective. According to Acerman (2006, p.40), “effective teachers employ more positive reinforcements than negative ones.”

b. Teaching Strategies

Teaching strategy is one important factor to create statisfactory learning environment for the students. A research of “student satisfaction and retention found that instructional effectiveness was the top predictors of overall student statisfaction (Polinsky, 2003 as cited in Seidman, 2005 p. 45). Students’ statisfaction relates to their motivation to study. However, as a beginning teacher, I did a mistake which was I just taught my students with “speech” method. They are bored with the material. They told me that they did not like chemistry because it was very difficult for them. At that moment, I just thought about how to finish the syllabus considering the high load of chemistry curriculum. I just wanted to share the material so that they can pass the examination.

The other mistake was I used complex language that they did not understand. Furthermore, I did not use the analogy, the examples to make it simple. I was also too serious. I never told a story, a joke or everything to let them stay relax. The last mistake was that I always arranged difficult questions for their test. There are some competencies in curriculum that they have to achieve and it was very difficult for them to achieve those competencies. This condition influences them to feel inadequency in academic achievement, which contributes to students’ misbehaviour (Acerman, 2006, p.41). Of course, the low exam scores did not help to raise their morale.

Related to three interests of Hubermas in Grundy (1987, p.10) which are technical, practical, and emancipatory. I used that story as my reflection in technical interest. I did not care of my students’ understanding. I just thought that they had to have a good result. Therefore, I frighten them with chemistry result. At that time, I always did it and sometimes it did not work for my students. According to Grundy (1987, p.12), technical interest focuses on the controlling students and academic achievement. In addition, I tend to finish the curriculum and using the “wonderful teaching strategy” without concern on my students’ background. I just talked and used the complex language, because chemistry was complex. I did not realize my perception on complexity of chemistry influenced me to teaching chemistry in complicated way.

I tried to solve the problems in my classrooms. It was very difficult for me as a new teacher. However, I tried to come up with some solutions. First, I tried using variations in teaching methods to cope with students’ misbehaviour (Tomlinson, 1999 as cited in Ackerman, 2006, p. 40). I chose a demonstration method to explain acid-base material. I used acid-base indicator such as litmus paper to identify acid-base solution. The solutions that I used were vinegar to identify acid and soap to identify base. They were interested because the colour of litmus paper changed to different colour. For example, if I put the blue litmus paper to vinegar, it changes to red. They told me that it was like magic. Then, I started my lesson because I already got their attentions.

The other strategy was sometimes, I used to giving test after class. The questions were related to my previous explanations, only few questions. Some of them had better scores because they could still remember the material. Sometimes, I gave them writing tasks related to environmental problem. I just tried to link chemistry with their day-to-day activities. The other strategy to help them to memorise chemistry easier was using acronym. For example, elements in IIA class which are Be, Mg, Ca, Sr, Ba, Ra. I told them that they could memorize the elements by these words: Be (Besok), Mg(Minggu), Ca (Camping), Sr(Seregu), Ba (Bakal), Ra (Ramai). In English it means “Tomorrow, Camping will be interesting”. This strategy did not only motivate them to study but also motivated me to come up with creative words.

c. Knowledge on Applied Subject

Knowledge on applied subject helps teacher to deliver the subject effectively which increase students’ attention (Mc Intosh, Herman, Sanford, Mc Graw, & Florence, 2004, p.33). On my experiences, I used knowledge related to my students’ major subject on engines and electricity, for example, I told them about electroplating process in the “car frame.” I used simple electrolyte solution to show them how the process works. I used rings and pens with silver solution. Later, I knew that some of them used principal of electroplating process for working. They told me that they were more interested because chemistry is close with their life. Sometimes, they came to me after class just to ask about something related to chemistry, such as the dangerous of smoking and chemical compound in drugs. I was very happy that they show their interest to study.

d. Personal Approaches

Another important strategy to dealing with students’ misbehaviour is personal approaches. Building good teacher-student relationship will assist teacher to cope with students’ misbehaviour (Acerman, 2006, p.41). Most reseach studies find that good relationship between teacher and students lead to successful behaviour management. Teachers have to “show respect respect for each student dignity” to create positive classroom environment ( Abrams, 2005, p.41). Even though, sometimes, it is very difficult for techers, especially beginning teacher, but this approaches will help them.

Based on my experiences at STM, I use a strategy to be closer with them by learning their slang words, chat, and hang around with them in the canteen. I became more concerned with naughty and lazy students. I also tried to remember my students’ entire name. They were surprised that I could remember 160 students’ name that I taught for 2 weeks. However, I still had problems with my students who used drugs. They still slept in the classroom under drugs influence. They were not conscious about their action. It was a big problem for me.

In addition, pedagogical universities should aware about those problems to prepare their students as teachers, because the university does not give curriculum analysis at STM. Therefore, the students never realize that the curriculum is different from other high school. They have difficulties to using their knowledge and skills in applied chemistry. In university, the lecturers taught teaching methods, evaluation, and class management. However, they never give case study to give description of the real teaching experiences. In addition, most students will have field teaching experiences in the good reputation school, which has mix class and well-behaved students. Therefore, they will shock to cope with students’ misbehaviour like at most STM schools. As a result, it is important for pedagogical universities have to prepare their students to face with various classrooms environmental. According to Kullina, Cothran, & Requalos (2006, p.38), “ideally, pre service teachers would have opportunities to participate in quality field experiences in multiple school settings which would allow them to see different, effective management techniques”.


Teachers, especially beginning teachers who face the students’ misbehaviour will find their job as a stressful. However, their conscious of the problems will help them to be a creative teacher to create the improvement and solve the problems. As beginning teachers,, management classroom is more important than their cognitive skills to cope with students’ misbehaviour. However, to solve this problems, integrated solution are needed, there are not only teachers’ strategies such as classroom management, teaching strategies, knowledge on the applied subject, but also the role of pedagogical university which prepare their students to be teachers.


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