Dealing with inappropriate comments

“Why are you late Sir?”

“Were you out last night Sir?”

“Where did you go Sir?”

“Do you drink Sir?”

“Were you drinking last night Sir?”

“Is that why you’re late Sir?”

“Did you pull Sir?”

“Does your wife know Sir?”

“Have you got a wife Sir?” “Is she nice looking Sir?”  …and so on.

Inappropriate questions often start off fairly harmless and if we have a good rapport with our pupils we can play along, but before we know it more and more students get pulled in, the questions get more personnel and silly and we can lose control of the class. The result is, at best, a very annoyed and embarrassed member of staff, a loss of respect, damaged relationships and a class of very excited students – some of whom are likely to be given sanctions they will consider unfair and that could have been avoided so we need to nip it in the bud as quickly as possible.

Pupils may be doing it because they have become over-familiar with you and don’t realise where the boundaries are. If they are doing it for fun, entertainment, attention, respect from their peers or power, we need to be aware that the more attention we give to them, the more we will feed the problem so here are our best strategies for quickly managing inappropriate comments without getting drawn in. All the strategies should be delivered with no emotional response.


1) Calmly state that the conversation is inappropriate and must stop:

“That comment is inappropriate/unacceptable. You need to think before saying things like that.”

“We’ll talk about these comments later.”

2) Create a diversion such as a quick demonstration, introducing a new topic/game etc.

“Look this way everyone please, I set this up earlier.”

“OK, for this game you need a blue pen and a piece of scrap paper…”

3)Take out a pen and paper and say:

“I’m writing your comments down; I’m recording what you say so that I don’t make a mistake when I explain your behaviour to other people.”

4) Use Humour:

While you should avoid hitting out with sarcasm and personal slights, stealing the limelight with humour can be a great way to turn the situation around…

”Three simple instructions … Stop talking, Sit Down and Hold your breath until you turn purple.”