How do you deal with mouthy students?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Kaley12, Mar 25, 2013.

  1. Kaley12

    Kaley12 Companion

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    Mar 25, 2013

    I was wondering if anyone had any advice for how to deal with students that are constantly rude/mouthy.

    There is a particular boy in grade 9 that I have in mind about this problem. I understand that the teenage years often come with some degree of attitude, but this particular student is just plain rude day in and day out. He always has an extreme attitude and over reacts to everything (ie. when asked to go back to his assigned seat, he'll say it's stupid he has to sit there, he's going to get his parents to call me about how unfair I am, etc). I've already written him up twice for being defiant/disruptive, and also called home.

    I'm not sure where to go from here. I don't want to write up every little thing, and if this behavior was a once in a blue moon thing, then I could deal with it and move on. But it's to the point where it's frustrating to have to have that type of attitude every single day.

    Do you think this is something that is best to ignore and not give him attention he is seeking, or should I come down harsher on him, and deal with his inevitable back-lash?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated!
     
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  3. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Fanatic

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    1. I wouldn't tolerate this for a second. I'd write him and any student that acted like that up every time. Don't let any student get away with that kind of attitude with you.

    2. Don't talk back with this student.

    3. Always give him a controlled choice. "Would you like to sit in this seat or the seat at the table." It will be less likely to lead to a power struggle.

    4. Were the parents supportive? If so, keep them informed and work with them.

    5. Have a 1 on 1 conversation with the student to let him know enough is enough and it has to stop.

    Don't take this lightly. If you do, soon others might join in. Good luck to you. :)
     
  4. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    "How do you deal with mouthy students?"

    "Get out of my room................now."
     
  5. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Mar 25, 2013

    How does the rest of the class react to his "attitude"?
     
  6. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Kaley12, along with Loomistrout's question, could you give us some more background as to why this may be happening?
     
  7. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    Mar 26, 2013

    I agree with some of the previous posters. NEVER ignore it.

    If you don't address it, other students will notice and begin feeling that they have a right to do the same.

    Either write them up every single time (for examples like the one you showed--I think it's best just to not look cowed about it), but if it's worse and outright rude ("You're a stupid teacher," etc.) then Reality check's solution is best: "You're not welcome in this classroom with that tone of voice. Get out." They know where to find the principal's office. Pop them a quick call to let them know that he is coming or out of your classroom.
     
  8. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Mar 26, 2013

    I use:
    "You have 2 choices. You can either follow the expectations of this classroom or go to Mr. Vice Principal and explain to him why you refuse to be a productive member of this class."

    Any response to this other than quiet = a trip to the VP.

    In 11 years of teaching, 1 student has made a trip to the VP.
     
  9. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Phenom

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    Mar 26, 2013

    It depends on why the student is mouthy. I have a variety of mouthy students, and each requires a different approach.

    • adult attention seeker--These get mouthy to get my attention, so I have to make sure to give positive attention early before student needs to demand it.
    • peer attention seeker--Often that requires dealing with other students, too. I have one who will do anything to get another's attention, and a few things with ther student worked wonders. (It is similar to my approach with ones who like my attention.)
    • avoidance--My most common mouthiness issue is from avoidance. As soon as they can't do something, they start. It's better to get thrown out of the room than to let people know you can't do something.
    • The PITA--The kids who are just plain mean & ornery are the ones that end up in the office.
     
  10. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    I don't really agree with giving more attention to attention-seeking kids. I think it reinforces their neediness, and causes more problems in the end I think.

    When they act out because they want adult attention, I want them to realize that they will not always have someone at their beck and call to give them attention and it's not okay to react that way about it.

    I think giving all students the same amount of positive attention (only when they deserve it) is the best course of action. But I could be wrong.
     
  11. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 26, 2013

    Peregrin, the basic concept with Ima Teacher's suggestion is to meet a student's basic social/emotional needs to the best of your ability. With the way you've presented things, "neediness" is something like a black hole that only gets bigger if fed. On the other hand, my experience has been that "neediness" can be more like hunger: if you feed the student, they get full.

    Of course, we have to go back to the original point of knowing the student. There are some students who might increase their undesirable behavior if given positive social attention, while some may need just a bit to feel better. It all boils down to what the individual needs.

    As somewhat of a side note, there are different forms of "attention." For example, there is a huge difference between a child who likes to perform and be the "center of attention" when compared with a child who needs positive adult interaction. Both of those are often considered "attention," and may even present similarly in terms of problem behavior, but are very different needs. The OP simply hasn't posted enough information for us to know which of those, if either, may apply - or if it's something totally different.

    Finally, as another aside, addressing your last point - I'm just not sure how you've come to the conclusion to treat all students exactly equal. If you have a student who comes from a family background that is full of love and positive social interaction, and another child who comes from a home with little love and positive interaction, are you suggesting treating those students the same, all for the sake of "getting them used to the real world?" And, because I love medical analogies, would we treat all cancer patients with the same drug simply because "the real world doesn't provide individualized cancer treatment?"
     
  12. Kaley12

    Kaley12 Companion

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    Mar 26, 2013

    Thanks for all of the replies!
    Just for a bit more background, I have spoken 1 on 1 with the student after class twice. He is very dismissive and just shrugs off what has to be said. As for his mother, it's not that she wasn't supportive, but she didn't really give the impression that she cared very much. His behavior hasn't really improved since the phone call home, so I don't think much was done.

    When it comes to the rest of the class, there's actually some other "characters" that I've had to work on this semester, but they've really begun to turn things around. I'm actually really pleased with this class' behavior presently, especially compared to the start of the term. The others don't really respond when he gets mouthy, which is partially why I've started to simply ignore him. I don't want to do anything to "rile" up the others, if that makes sense, since I know they have the potential to be a challenging class, and they've come so far.

    This is also my first time teaching in a high school, so this type of "attitude" is something new for me to deal with. I appreciate all the responses :)
     
  13. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    How would you distinguish between the two?

    Actually, I would argue that yes, you should give them equal treatment. Not for the sake of getting them used to the real world, but simply to reinforce the idea that everyone enters my class as equals. We all come from different backgrounds, and we all have different experiences. If we provide more love and attention to a few students, of course the other students are going to feel slighted or a bit resentful. Maybe they know about the other kids' background, maybe they don't, but they're not at the age to fully sympathize. They will take it as favoritism.

    I think medical analogies work in some sense in what we do, but I don't think it can be applied to everything. And actually the real world DOES provide individualized cancer treatment.

    I guess what I'm thinking more about is ensuring that my classroom feels safe and open to EVERYONE in the class, and that students can come in and count on getting the same amount of attention from me as I give to Suzy even though Suzy has come from a rough home. Honestly, in my experience, I find that the students who come from these backgrounds appreciate it because they don't like being treated differently, being given different expectations as if they couldn't live up to the same expectations as "normal" students.

    I guess I lean more towards the camp of simplifying things and maintaining consistency than chasing after every difference and accommodating for it. That way students know what to expect when they enter my classroom and feel comfortable and safe there. You don't have to treat them EXACTLY equal, but you at least have to appear to.

    If I do know Suzy needs a little more attention, I'd do it discreetly, like a private note to her or something that doesn't bring unwanted attention towards her.
     
  14. 2ndTimeAround

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    Mar 26, 2013

    I've almost always been able to shut down such mouthiness by calling kids out on their behavior privately and then publically if the "chat" didn't take.

    I'm fortunate in that I usually have the ability to remain very calm and phrase my public comments so that the rest of the class sees what a jerk the mouthy kid is being. I don't humiliate, but I remove any positive reinforcement the student may be getting from his disruptive behavior.

    I might say "Look, EVERYONE has assigned seats. I am not singling you out. I need you to sit where I've put you. It is rude to talk back like that and I simply cannot allow that behavior in my classroom. So please sit down and be quiet so the class can move forward. If you need to talk about it more, see me after class."

    When I am completely above board in MY behavior, the student doesn't have a leg to stand on. He can either get mouthier and show his butt to his friends, or he can comply and get on with the lesson.

    USUALLY the students comply. Some students do get angrier, because I've removed their audience from them. I end up having parent conferences then. Sometimes the parents are convinced that I hate their child and it gets me nowhere. I just bide my time until the course is over. Most parents shut down the behavior right away. No one wants to get called in to talk about their kid's behavior.

    I did have one student that just thrived on being a jerk. Nothing I did solved the problem. Other students were begging me to get him kicked out of the class because his behavior was impacting their learning. That's a very profound statement and I had three kids say it to me. One student failed the class (due to his own choices) and I had him again the next year. He was shocked at how differently the class was run. I told him that a class is determined by the combination of personalities that are in it. Not just the teacher. He was in an awesome class that second year and did very well.
     
  15. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Do you mean how would I assess and figure out which was the more likely situation going on with the student? I would probably look at how the student behaved even with no audience, look at the student's eye direction when seeking the interaction/attention, consider the qualitative nature of the interaction, have a conversation with the student and try to get a sense of purpose of the behavior, and ultimately test out strategies and see which one seemed to have an impact. Probably a few more things too, but those are some ideas off the top of my head :)

    Again, fair is not equal. You wouldn't provide the same types of instruction to two students who needed very different types of instruction, simply because you believe in things being equal. Like you argument about "getting ready for the real world," the real world also isn't fair, and even when it is it's not equal. By 8th grade especially, students should be able to have enough empathy to understand that. If not, some empathy training may be helpful.

    So, I guess my main response is: If they think it's unfair, help them work through that. That's a life lesson better learned at some point.

    Exactly, and the real world treats individuals differently too. Some of us have better social experiences than others, but most of us (as adults) have learned that the world works in that way, and we can't throw temper tantrums because my mom calls my brother more often, one of my friends calls another friend more often than me, etc.

    So, two responses. First, yes - just because a needier students is needier doesn't mean the automatic response is to treat them differently. I think this is what I mean by individualization - let's take it on a case-by-case basis. Maybe one "needy" student does need more adult interaction and support, and another prefers to be treated like everyone else. Rather than approach teaching from a "one-size fits all" situation, let's consider the individual.

    Second, I think classrooms feel the most safe when needs are met, and individuals are treated as the individuals they are - not when they are expected to be just like everyone else. As a student, I remember having a sense of fairness when other students got more academic attention than me because I knew they needed it. Had that teacher not provided that attention to those students, my sense of "fairness" would have been violated because what would have been fair would have been for that teacher to provide needed instruction. I would have been resentful if the teacher attempted spending the exact same amount of minutes with me.

    I think there's certainly benefit to consistency and simplicity, and I would agree with you as a matter of classroom discipline when analyzing the situation on a classroom level. Typically, it's understood that management plans work with 85% (give or take) of students, but that there will usually be outliers. I agree - start simple, but make customize if necessary.

    Again, I think what you're doing here is intelligently responding to Suzy's specific needs. So, you're individualizing if that's what she needs, which I agree with.
     
  16. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Phenom

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    That's where you have to know the kids.

    What works for Student A may not work for Student B. and what works for Student A may not be appropriate for Student B either. I need to give them what they need to be successful. That's not the same for everybody. It would not be very fair to most of them to treat them equally in all situations.
     
  17. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    This is a key factor when determining whether ignoring is a strategy to try. If the peer group is yukking it up gesturing "cool" ignoring is not likely to extinguish the behavior because bootleg reinforcers (rewards from peer group) are more powerful than the teacher's attempt at ignoring.

    Whatever strategy you choose to implement with any discipline problem consider asking yourself, "Is what I'm about to do likely to make this problem larger or smaller?" Along with this is a mind-set which dominates choice of action towards using the least amount of discipline to get the job done while keeping it as private and invisible as possible. Fact he shrugged you off during private one-on-one is significant. He knows darn well you saved him from public embarrassment in front of peers. He is probably used to the opposite.
     
  18. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    @Ed: I think we may be thinking about different things here then.

    I think that students need the same behavioral expectations period. When they enter your classroom your rules are set, and you're going to expect EVERYONE to follow them unless they have an IEP explicitly stating that you shouldn't.

    When it comes to instruction however, you do need to differentiate. Those who are ahead will be bored by stuff they already know. Those who are behind will have trouble with things that are too advanced.

    In the memory you mentioned, I personally would be very uncomfortable spending such a different amount of time with a particular student, even if that student was having trouble, than with the rest of the class. The profession of teaching then becomes being a private tutor for one or a few students while you essentially baby sit the others because they can do the work for themselves. I think the individualization that should take place should be in the curriculum, not the percentage of time you spend with each student. Tasks can be altered so that some students will be able to be successful and be able to learn within the time that you are spending with them, and the time they personally take to figure it out. Perhaps yes, another student requires more time with you, however I think that time is best given outside of the normal classroom setting. Allowing students to come after school or during lunch for extra help.

    I agree when you say classroom management plans are only so effective. They simply aren't enough on their own. But you should still adhere strictly to it. The rest of what is necessary includes building rapport, respect, and influence. And in this matter it may be necessary to take extra steps with specific students to build that rapport, respect, and influence.

    So I think individualization is necessary. I am by no means saying every single person needs to be treated exactly the same, but there need to be constraints on how its done. If every time I had a student who was misbehaving and breaking the rules, and I had to go into my mental file for that student, take into consideration their entire past, their socioeconomic status, any personal issues they may have, and then make a weighted judgment decision on exactly what action to take, the whole class would NEVER get anything done. They know the plan, you know the plan, if you stick to it, you hand out a consequence and move on with your day without even having to think about it. The more you think about it the more stress you're put under and the more the class becomes unruly.
     
  19. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    I agree not in all situations would it be appropriate. However I do think it's appropriate to provide them the same consequences, and the same time spent with them. But perhaps student A needs some positive attention and student B just needs a bit of homework help. You are individualizing the content of your interactions with them which I think is a better course of action than simply spending more time with another student.
     
  20. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Peregrin, a few thoughts in response:

    - I've mentioned this before, but I'm wondering your thoughts on my comment that an IEP is relatively arbitrary and not the only signal that individualization should occur? This is particularly true given that rules for who is and is not given an IEP are relatively arbitrarily determined.

    - I think we both agree that consistency with a behavior plan is good in general, but where we disagree is that some children may have needs that aren't covered by the class plan and that a teacher should do what s/he can to address those needs through individualization (even when no IEP is in place, and even if it means modifying the group plan).

    - In terms of individualization via different amounts of time, what's the limit of how much time a teacher could spend differently with various students before they've crossed that line? If a teacher spends an extra minute providing extra instruction to a student 1:1 in the classroom context while students practice work independently, is that teacher expected to provide one minute for every student? Or is okay for that teacher to spend the extra minute only on the student who needs the extra time? If 1 minute is fine, how about 2? 5? 10? In other words, your rule seems to be defined not by student need, but a principle of equality which states that equal dosages of time should be given to all children under all circumstances. Or, aside from IEPs, would you allow for exceptions?

    - So, to be clear, your policy now is that you would - 100% of the time - enforce every element of your classroom plan with 100% of students, even in the face of clear evidence that it wasn't working with a particular student?

    - In general, I'm sensing a thought pattern with you that responds to specific experiences by creating global rules that may be a bit over-generalized, perhaps in your attempt to create a mental safety net of perceived stability via clear rules that are very understandable and always true. In other words, nuance can be frustrating and uncomfortable because there aren't always clear answers, whereas hard-and-fast rules (e.g., never modify a classroom management plan for individual needs, always give the same consequences to every student) are much easier to understand, creating a (perhaps false) sense of safety in the area of discipline. Put another way, one of our fundamental human drives is to make sense of the world around us, because that helps us protect ourselves from things like danger and stress. I wonder if you are in a rush to create hard-and-fast rules out of a desire to make your teaching world utterly predictable and knowable, particularly as pretty smart first year teacher?

    The reason for my last comment is that I really respect your insight, intelligence, and constant desire to grow, but I've noticed over the past months that you've responded to challenging situations by attempting to create these golden/global rules which most teachers probably would say don't really exist.

    As an example, though I haven't heard you describe this pattern with yourself particularly, I've frequently seen with 1st year classroom teachers that they are either 100% about being the student's friend, or 100% about being the strict disciplinarian. Many first year teachers can't understand the nuance of combining a supportive relationship-building approach with a firm discipline policy, so they go "all the way" in one direction or another. Typically, over a couple of years, these choices become instructive and those maturing teachers learn from mistakes. Teachers learn that these all-or-nothing responses may help them feel more secure about their role as a teacher, but actually inhibit the teacher from being as effective as possible.

    I bring this up because, on this forum, we often challenge each others' thoughts, but not really our thought processes, and I think there are certain patterns of thinking that tend to be more helpful than others. As an example, some folks chose discipline strategies because it's what they personally believe in or personally experienced, not because those strategies have the best probability of working in the given context. In that situation, challenging a teacher's discipline strategy is not very effective because the issue isn't the strategy, but the reasons why the teacher chose the strategy, which will lead the teacher to continually making poor choices in each subsequent situation.

    With you, I don't get the sense that you are choosing strategies because you experienced them as a child, but I am getting the sense that you are choosing strategies because they may be predictable and safe, which - if it becomes a pattern - may impair your ability to reason through more ambiguous situations that require more nuanced thinking, and may lead you to stubbornly attaching yourself to self-imposed principles/standards that aren't really based in actual experience.

    Thoughts?
     
  21. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    What this would mean is that I would follow the IEP because I am required by law to follow it. That would be the main reason that students with an IEP would be an exception.

    I'm glad you used the term "principle of equality", because that's how I would see it. I'm not too worried about providing an exactly equal experience every single time, but my principle would be to try my best to provide equal attention to all students in my classroom.

    As you stated a classroom management plan will not work 100% of the time. However the importance with a classroom management plan is to uphold it as close to 100% of the time as you can. I would continue to hold that student accountable according to the management plan, but I might seek other options in addition to my plan to help the student succeed. The behavioral expectations would remain the same, and I am holding the student to those expectations. A classroom management plan in this sense is something as simple as the rules of the classroom, and the consequences that take place upon infraction of those rules.

    I don't think one should be 100% a students' friend or 100% a students' disciplinarian, but one should have as you stated a firm discipline policy. Having a firm discipline policy means sticking to it. However that doesn't mean one cannot build a positive relationship with a student by giving them meaningful praise and support and making your classroom an engaging place where students can feel successful. So I'm not all or nothing, but I decide where I should be all or nothing. I think your management plan in one place where you should maintain consistency once you have a plan that works for most students. The more important thing is that they see that you have a plan and you will keep students accountable for their behavior in your classroom.
     

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