Adjusting to the Classroom for Teachers and Students

Adjusting to the workplace or school is a challenge for teachers and students. This post will look at five ways people respond to the adjustment, as first researched by W.S. Neff.

No Motivation

The first type of person who struggles in the classroom is a person who has no motivation. They have a negative view of their role in the classroom and want to avoid work to avoid discomfort.

Teachers who lack motivation are often considered to be suffering from burnout. In other words, these were teachers who use to be on fire but have struggled to keep the flame burning. Burnout and loss of motivation have also become acute problems with the move to online learning. Essentially some teachers have lost motivation because they are struggling to cope with the changes in teaching that have hit the entire world.

It is more common to see students who lack motivation. In an entertainment-driven world, sitting still in class is challenging and lacks relevance for many young people. With learning online, it can be even more torturous to have to endure sitting in front of the computer for hours. Some students have to study through their small cellphone for hours each day.

The Fearful

Some people respond with fear and or anxiety about coping with work or school. The stress and demands of work can weigh heavily upon them. Teachers, as an example, may be worried about students who have real and severe problems. They also may be struggling with the workload of teaching as they try and support dozens of students at any given moment.

Any student can suffer from anxiety and fear about the school, but students who suffer from bullying and/or high performers are often at risk for this. The bullied student has to worry about the people who are mistreating them, while the high performer is worried about maintaining high performance.

The Hostile Ones

Some react with anger and aggression towards stress. These are the people who are identified as having a short temper and are hard to get along with. Such individuals dislike the strain of their role by attacking those around them. Teachers do this, but it can be challenging to keep a position long-term with this sort of behavior.

Students also do this, and given their age; there is more effort to work with them through aggressive, emotional issues. Students are already dealing with change as they mature into adults, and coping with their role at school could cause problems. For example, students who have family problems may also act aggressive at school as they try and cope with the issues they face at home.


 People who become dependent cannot take the initiative for anything and have a sense of helplessness. For a teacher, this can manifest itself with a lack of decisiveness in the classroom and unclear instruction. The teacher is so overwhelmed that they literally cannot think and make choices. Anybody who is in a highly stressful situation will look for guidance to attain the stability and/or safety that they crave, which happens to some teachers.

Dependency among students can happen if they lack support at home. When home support is missing, friends are often the ones who provide stability. These students turn to friends for advice and decision-making in place of what could be provided by parents.

Socially Naive

Some people have no idea how their actions affect those around them. They have no clue about the feelings and needs of others. These individuals are classified as socially naive. Task-oriented teachers and students often fall into this category. They are so focused on achieving something that they lose track of the people around them.

Introverts can also suffer from being socially naive as they have their minds that they are trying to keep track of and thus do not focus on what is happening in the heads of others as much.

Helping these Types

There is no single way to help people who fall into one of the examples above. It takes a holistic view of the life of the teacher or student to determine how to help them. Teachers often want to do at least the minimum to keep their jobs (hopefully). Therefore, if they are not even meeting the lowest standard, exploring causes can help them rebound in performance.

Students are more complicated as they often do not have the life burdens of bills and family. As such, they can be in a perfectly stable environment and still not perform or care as the struggles of reality have not hit them yet. In such a situation, it will take serious work to help them.


Everybody is different, and we all respond in different ways to the same situations. This post provided five types of roles people assume when coping with stress.

1 thought on “Adjusting to the Classroom for Teachers and Students

  1. Pingback: Adjusting to the Classroom for Teachers and Students — educational research techniques | So, You Think You Can Teach ESL?

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