Dealing with Difficult Students
Kids will muck-up, it’s what they do. Children are works in progress and the part of their brain that is most required to modulate their behaviour is not fully developed until the mid twenties and it will come as no surprise boys mature later than girls (I will ignore the inevitable smart comments LADIES!). So dealing with misbehaviour is at the core of our professional practices. This Newsletter gives you some clues on how to deal with these ‘difficult kids’.
When you find yourself in a confrontation it is important to maintain your integrity. This is where the structure you create in the classroom is vital. If the child is violating the expectation of behaviour your actions are seen as imposing that expectation not your expectation. The difference is subtle but essential in the maintenance of a good relationship.
You need to develop strong personal boundaries. This self-control will allow you to present your case in an assertive but non-threatening manner:
- Continue to act as if their behaviour has no effect on you
- Maintain a steady, positive gaze
- Speak clearly
- Maintain appropriate eye contact
- Stand up straight
- Address the behaviour without threatening the individual
- Never apologise for not getting emotionally involved with them
- Remain silent after you deliver your message
- Allow them time to digest the message
- Give them time to make a decision.
When you have done this it is important that you reassure their acceptance as a member of the class. Remember it is the behaviour we don’t want, not the child. Address the student is the following manner:
- Be concerned about them “I know your really angry now. You need time to settle down”
- Go on with another activity without antagonising them
- Get them to explain the purpose of their inappropriate behaviour
- Let them know that you understand why they are behaving that way
- When they are acting appropriately really listen to them
- Give them a choice of actions but not the choice of consequences that accompany each action
There will be times when you will be required to be critical of the students. The delivery of criticism is never easy but when it is necessary criticise the behaviour not the person. Take the following steps:
- Be specific
- Acknowledge the positives
- Keep calm
- Keep to the point
- Focus on the behaviour
- Don’t stereo-type or use labels
Finally, procrastination is death when it comes to classroom management. There is a reason you always hear in regards to discipline – be consistent and persistent – this provides the environment where we can all get on with our learning.
Note: I have attached another essay that examines the problems schools encounter when they have to deal with students with extremely dysfunctional behaviours.