I really enjoy the month of October. The roles and routines are set and established, you have developed relationships with your students and staff members, no mention of report cards YET and of course it's HALLOWEEN (which I love) at the end of the month!
In this newsletter, I will be discussing different types of students - not visual, auditory or kinesthetic - but the rude students, whiners, liars and excuse makers.
I'm sure you have come across these types of students. Hopefully, I can shed some light and ideas to help you deal with these students.
THE EXCUSE MAKER
They offer reasons why they forgot books, didn't complete assignments, make us repeat directions and find materials to replace forgotten ones. They undoubtedly set a bad example and tone in the classroom.
We often make mistakes handling excuse makers. For instance, we constantly repeat directions, give them negative attention and allow them to get forgotten books from their lockers.
* Have a private conversation to find out the real problem - why they choose not to meet their obligations?
* Remind them a second time when assignments are due.
* Never use the word "excuse". Use "choice" or "choose" as in, "Why did you choose" not to bring your work?
* Hold them accountable for their behaviour.
* Give then continuous positive reinforcement for acceptable behaviour.
* If excuses continue, you may need to talk with parents in a caring and serious manner.
You want these students to successfully assume responsibility for their obligations.
Lying is a behaviour that we will face often. We may make mistakes in handling this behaviour as it will affect us, the lying student and the class.
Lying serves 3 purposes for the student: attention, self-confidence or escape from pain from failure. We can never ignore the lying, because we need to change the behaviour. We need to take special steps:
1. Discover the reason for the lying behaviour.
2. Never try to apply your rational thought to explain the lying.
3. Use the deviation strategy as often as you can; that is, when the student begins to lie, interrupt immediately and for example say " I'm sorry Eric, would you please get me those books". Make sure you use the student's name. Remember, don't listen to the lie before you interrupt. This technique allows you to give attention without hearing the lie and avoid dealing with the lie itself.
4. Use the repetition strategy, which is asking the student to repeat the remark (the lie). Use body language, raise eyebrow, give a knowing look and ask the student to repeat it once more. Usually they'll say "forget it" or "never mind". However if they start to repeat, use the deviation strategy immediately.
5. Work on building a relationship with the student(s), not reject them. Show that you like them, but not the lying. Never call them a liar, you may be wrong.
6. As you advise a student who lies habitually, remember the only reasonable goal is improvement. Don't give up on them and use words such as "stories", "imagination", "exaggeration", rather than "lying".
7. Finally - An occasional lie doesn't make a student a habitual liar. Those types of students may have severe personal problems which may need professional help.
If students trust us to understand the circumstance at the time they did something wrong, then they will trust us to help them cope with the wrongness of their behaviour. They will have less reason to lie. "To make your children capable of honesty is the beginning of education" - John Ruskin.
There seems to be one or more in every class. They make excuses for unperformed tasks, seek sympathy for their failure from peers and teachers, and feel they're victims of constant discrimination.
There are two types of whiners - the occasional and the chronic. Both should be handled the same way as they manifest the same characteristics and both are protecting their laziness (it's easier to whine than work). These types of students need acceptance, respect and trust, which they get little of.
Here are some specific techniques to use:
1. Never reveal anger or disgust.
2. Never poke fun or mimic them.
3. Keep the conversation on an adult level.
4. Always be patient and try to lead them gently back to their work.
5. If they reveal personal problems, don't minimize their difficulty.
6. Let them establish priorities. Tackle them one at a time or the student's chances for change are diminished.
Students may deny all guilt and fear of responsibility and punishment may be the reason. If possible, by accepting a bit of the blame, you can disarm the student. They know they're wrong, but can't say so. You can then deal with the problem rather than the denial.
Discuss their behaviour in a caring but factual way and discuss the total consequences of their behaviour. If we treat this behaviour in an adult and serious way, whiners have the best chance to respond in a similar manner.
THE RUDE STUDENT
Student rudeness makes us furious. They ignore others, put people down, are inconsiderate, talk back to teachers, disregard requests and act superior.
By keeping people away through disrespectful behaviour, they avoid exposing their real fears and weaknesses - low self esteem or inflated sense of self importance. They seek status through negative behaviour. Therefore the teacher should teach them how to act in acceptable ways which would give them prestige, status and recognition - but this is not an easy task.
Establish a relationship and get a measure of respect before the student will risk listening to you. However this will be difficult because rudeness isn't a natural behaviour, it's learned.
Other realities are: it may result from either feelings of inferiority or a false sense of superiority, it's born out of ignorance, it's an imitation of strength to avoid revealing weakness, and it produces hostility.
Obviously teachers cannot tolerate disrespect for people, so they must expose the behaviour privately. Hopefully, once confronted, the student will probably behave better towards you; however, they may try to get away with being rude again.
If the problem continues, talk to the student in a direct and serious way. The student must be told that their rudeness is totally unacceptable. When you speak to them, do not give consequences as it leaves you inflexible. Make sure you ask, "Do you understand?".
Wait for an answer.
You can end by saying, "Let's see if we can get what you want in an appropriate way". Make it clear that it's the rudeness you disapprove of, not the student.
Teaching these students how to gain respect through appropriate behaviour lives at the root of lasting change.
"Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength" - Eric Hoffer.
Unfortunately , you have to deal with all these types of students (even staff and parents)on a daily basis> Obviously, I have made generalizations and you know your students. Take what you can from this newsletter and hopefully some of my suggestions will work for you and your students.
Have a great month - October - the Halloween month (which I loved) - enjoy your kids and smile a lot. It costs nothing, it's beyond priceless!!!
For a fun Halloween, be sure to read these pages:
1. Halloween Classroom Activities .
2. Halloween Classroom Party Games.
3. Halloween Classroom Contest .
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