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Proper Classroom Management for Inappropriate Language

© by Joe Shlabotnik

What should a substitute teacher do when confronted by inappropriate language in the classroom?  An article on the National Educational Association website by K-12 substitute teacher Doug Provencio, provides some recommendations.


It is believed that swearing is a significant part of conversation in our society.  It is heard in many more forms today such as videos, movies, music and more.  When confronted with this it’s important for the substitute teacher to keep things in perspective.  If it’s not done in a hostile way and is simply part of a story description, a teacher should ask the student to not swear.  Often the student will apologize as they didn’t realize they were actually doing something wrong. 

If the swearing is intentional and hostile, it is evidence of an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.  The substitute teacher can speak with the student about it, remove them from the classroom or call their parents.

Name Calling

If a student refers to the substitute teacher in an unflattering manner the behavior must be addressed immediately.  There are times when using humor can end the behavior.  The substitute teacher might tell the student to think about the effects of their words.  It’s important to address the situation quickly and get back to the lesson.


It’s important to understand the level of the threat.  Is a student exhibiting a bad sense of humor or just venting frustration?  A student needs to know there are consequences for their actions.  They need to realize what they’re doing is wrong.  If it is a serious threat, it must be reported.

It is important for substitute teachers to learn from the experience of other teachers.  Effective classroom management requires the use of inappropriate language to be addressed right away but it is also important the substitute teacher not overreact to it.

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