Q. What are some signs that a student may be in distress?
A student in distress may not be disruptive to others but may show signs of emotional distress. They may be reluctant or unable to acknowledge a need for personal help. Behaviors may include:
- Serious grade problems or a change from consistently passing grades to unaccountably poor performance.
- Excessive absences, especially if the student has previously demonstrated consistent attendance.
- Unusual or markedly changed patterns of interaction, such as not participating, showing excessive anxiety when called upon, or dominating discussions.
- Physical signs a student may be in distress: depressed lethargic mood; very rapid speech; swollen, red eyes; marked change in personal dress and hygiene; falling asleep during class.
- Repeated requests for special consideration, such as deadline extensions, especially if the student appears uncomfortable or highly emotional while disclosing the circumstances prompting the request.
- New or repeated behavior that pushes the limits of decorum and that interferes with effective management of the immediate environment.
- Unusual or exaggerated emotional responses that are obviously inappropriate to the situation.
Q. How should I respond to a disruptive student?
- Remain calm and know who to call for help, if necessary. Find someone to stay with the student while calls to the appropriate resources are made.
- Remember that it is NOT your responsibility to provide the professional help needed for a severely troubled/disruptive student. You need only to make the necessary call and request assistance.
- When a student expresses a direct threat to themselves or others, or acts in a bizarre, highly irrational, or disruptive way, call Campus Police immediately at 693-1155 or 946-6310.
Q. How should I respond to a student who is troubled or showing signs of distress?
For students who are mildly troubled, you can choose to handle them in the following ways:
- Deal directly with the behavior/problem according to classroom management protocol.
- Address the situation on a more personal level.
- Consult with a Campus Counselor or the Manager of Student Services/Registrar.
Q. How should I respond when a student is disrupting my class?
Faculty members have broad authority to manage their classrooms and establish reasonable guidelines for class discussions that ensure everyone has an opportunity to participate in an orderly manner. If you believe a student’s behavior is inappropriate, consider a general word of caution rather than singling a student out or embarrassing the student.
If a student’s behavior reaches the point where it interferes with your ability to conduct the class or the ability of other students to benefit from the class, the student should be asked to leave the room for the remainder of the class period. The student should be provided with a reason for this action and an opportunity to discuss the matter with you as soon as is practical. In such situations, consultation and referral to the dean of your division may be appropriate.
Q. What are warning signs of disruptive student behavior?
Severely troubled or disruptive students exhibit behaviors that signify an obvious crisis and that necessitate emergency care. These problems are the easiest to identify. Examples include:
- Highly disruptive behavior, such as hostility, aggression, violence, or threats.
- Inability to communicate clearly - garbled, slurred speech; unconnected, disjointed, or rambling thoughts.
- Loss of contact with reality (seeing or hearing things which others cannot see or hear; beliefs of actions greatly at odds with reality or probability).
- Stalking behaviors.
- Inappropriate communications, including threatening letters, e-mail messages, or harassment.
- Overtly suicidal thoughts expressed verbally or in writing.
Q. How do I make a referral?
While many students seek out campus resources on their own, your exposure to students increases the likelihood you will identify signs or behaviors of distress in a student.
- Determine the student’s willingness to go to a helping resource. Reassure the student that it is an act of strength to ask for help.
- Dispute the myth that only “weak or crazy” people go for counseling or ask others for help.
- Remind them that campus counseling resources are free and confidential services.
- Offer to help make the initial contact with the helping resource.
- For problems of a physical nature, contact the College Health Nurse.