Decide what your limits of acceptable conduct are regarding lateness, sleeping in class, use of cell phones, alarm watches, eating in class, unrelated talking in class, etc.
Take a preventive approach by setting limits from the beginning. Use your course syllabus to state expectations and "ground rules." Perhaps get students involved in forming group ground rules (but, you retain responsibility for enforcement).
Be a role model for the behavior you require of your students (e.g., be on time yourself.)
Deal with disruptive behavior early, before you get angry or feel threatened.
Familiarize yourself with the student conduct code and the University processes for discipline cases.
Don’t take students' behavior personally. Understand that they are coming into the classroom with their own personal history and issues. Don't let them "hook" you. Don't give them the power to judge you.
If you need to reprimand a student, speak with the student privately if possible. This will avoid defensiveness and/or "acting out" in response to being shamed in front of their peers.
Convey your interest and concern to the student. Take a non-defensive stance to try to understand where the student is coming from. Meet with student to discuss the disruptive behavior, but also include discussion of their educational objectives and aspirations.
When necessary, set specific behavioral expectations for a student and then hold to them.
Use assertive communication: "I" statements; focus on behavior, not personality; don't use labels; state clear expectations for appropriate behavior.
Document disruptive behavior for possible future reference. Include name of student, date and time of incident, describe incident in behavioral terms, and use quotes where possible.
Have a safety plan in case of violent or dangerous behavior. The plan may include dismissing class, contacting campus police, having a code word that signals another to call for help (if you are calling from your office), have an escape route planned, etc.
For more information on responding to potentially violent or dangerous behavior in the classroom, see Intervening with Troubled/Troubling Students (Counseling Services).