One-on-one student conferences

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by NorthStar4512, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. NorthStar4512

    NorthStar4512 Rookie

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    Jul 28, 2014

    When you have a one-on-one teacher/student about the student's poor behavior in class, what exactly do you say?

    I'm curious as to how you combine serious (consequences, warnings) along with support (I'm here to help you, what do you need, etc.)

    It seems like when teaching middle school we have to be a little bit bipolar. Tough, but supportive at the same time.

    This year I want to do more conferencing with students and try to solve the problems, instead of sending them to the office.
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jul 28, 2014

    I'm elementary, regardless, sending a kid to the office should be your last resort.

    Set expectations, rules, code of conduct and consequences. Be friendly but firm.

    Warning
    Consequence
    Parent contact/ behavior contract
    More severe consequence
     
  4. NorthStar4512

    NorthStar4512 Rookie

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    Jul 28, 2014

    Sorry if I was not clear.

    What I'm asking is, what exactly do you say to students in the conferences? What words do you like to use? What words work well to get the message across. If someone was listening to what you say to students, what would that transcript look like?
     
  5. OneBerry

    OneBerry Comrade

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    Jul 28, 2014

    NorthStar, this is a great question and I'm looking forward to seeing others' responses to it.

    In my experience, if a student is having such a level of problems that it calls for a conference with the student, then that student is usually also demonstrating problem behaviors in other classes. So, we usually have a team meeting with the student. We let them know that we all want to know what is going on in the student's life, try to help them acknowledge the inappropriate behaviors, and ask them what can we do to help them succeed? We try to re-articulate the school/class expectations and let them know what the consequence will be if this heart to heart does not result in a change in the specified behavior(s) (even if there are many we try to whittle it down to a few to focus on). We all sign an agreement to this effect. I guess that is the general format, but where it goes from there varies dramatically student to student. I hope that makes sense, though.

    I just realized that is by definition NOT a one-on-one conversation, but the format could be the same.
     
  6. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jul 28, 2014

    I've learned from my P that one on one student conferences can be very powerful. I'm still learning how to make them very effective but I've had a lot of success so far.
    Here are some points I've kept in mind:
    - don't make it a lecture. Whatever you have to say, say it quick. Otherwise it will be 'one ear in - one ear out', and besides, the student know what he's doing wrong most of the time anyways, there's no point in going on and on about it.
    - keep it more of a question based conversation. Why do you think we're having this conversation? What happened earlier? Can you tell me what you did wrong? etc.
    - Your tone / words, etc should show that you're trying to help and that you're concerned, you want to work with the student, and not so much on punishment, consequences and scolding. You can start with a question such as: "What's going on with you today? Is everything ok?" You might find out that student is experiencing something traumatic, and his acting out is just a symptom, that doesn't necessarily need fixing, but he needs help dealing with his issue.
    - always keep it positive. My P says to say things like: this is what you did right... and this is what you did wrong. Or better yet, ask the student.
    - let the student know what was wrong and why, and that it has to stop, you can remind him of the consequence that you choose not to give him, or you can say " I'm going to assign you detention, because you broke a very important rule in the classroom and I have to follow my own expectations". The point is by the time you get to this point, the student should feel that the consequence is not the end of the world, and he deserves it.
    - if you're pressed for time, or you often have conversations with the student, or it's not a complicated issue, you can start with 'do you want to hear the long story or the short story?" they will almost always say 'short story", so then you can just get to bottom of the issue.

    This conference doesn't have to be a 'conference'. The more often you do it, the better it is. Usually I walk up to the student during lunch, or our 10 minute break and say 'walk with me, let's have a little talk', and then I make it really quick. It's more like a friendly conversation, with a serious topic. The student doesn't seem like he's in trouble in front of his peers, so he's not embarrassed and doesn't have to act cool to save face. I was surprised that even my toughest, most troubled students would leave their friends and would go take a walk with me around the basketball court.
    I sometimes call the student outside of the classroom, (during class) in a way that I'm at the doorway, I can see my students, my student stands next to the wall so they can't see him or even hear what we talk about.
    These 'conferences' can last from 1 minute up to 10.
     
  7. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Jul 28, 2014

    I try to ask questions so that the student does most of the talking. The onus should be on the student to fix the problem. I usually ask them if they know why we are meeting. If they don't then I explain why. I ask them if this is something they can fix or if they need my help. They usually offer some sort of plan and I let them know that if that doesn't work out I will be stepping in and helping.
     
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jul 28, 2014

    This is what I do as well.

    I work in a rough school with a lot of behavior issues. My classroom runs pretty smoothly, so I don't need to have a lot of these talks. When I do, however, they are serious.

    I adjust my approach depending on the student and the behavior. Some students respond better to the "C'mon, I know you can do better than that, right? Let's try to make better choices" thing with lots of smiles and encouragement. Other students need a much firmer, no-nonsense approach. It's not always easy to know which approach to use, but it gets easier with experience.

    Regardless of the approach I use, I usually start by asking the student an open-ended question like "What's going on?" or "What's the problem?" If the student needs some prompting or denies that there is an issue, I say something like, "I have noticed that you _____. That's a problem for me. What can you do to fix that problem?"

    When the student offers a reasonable solution that is acceptable to me, I will end the conversation with a comment like, "Let's try to have a better day, okay?" And I mean that.

    Some advice with these types of conferences:

    1. Keep them short. This isn't the time for a lecture or argument. Your conference should last 2 minutes or less.

    2. No power struggles. If you've got a kid who is argumentative and won't back down, just end the conference with something like, "When you are in my class, my expectation is ____. When we go back into the room, I expect you to do that." And then turn around and go back into the room.

    3. Don't hold grudges. You've got to give the student a fresh start after that conference. At the end of the class period and/or the next day, be sure to pull the kid aside and say, "Hey, I noticed that you ____ (positive comment about improving whatever behavior led to the conference). Thanks for that. I really appreciate it. Keep it up!"
     
  9. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Jul 29, 2014

    If you must conference consider doing it after the student has done something correct. Pulling the student aside to say privately, "Thanks for raising your hand today", will have more of a chance to turn around a problem student then constantly reminding them with pep talks that point out their shortcomings, no matter how favorable the sugar coating.

    A thumbs up from across the room or a sticky note folded and attached to the desk with "Good concentration" written after student has shown minimum perseverance is all the "conference" that is needed and it affirms immediately based on positive behavior. This is a far cry than trying to "convince" a student what a good person they could be if they would just blah, blah, blah ... first the good news than the bad.
     
  10. ready2learn

    ready2learn Comrade

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    Jul 29, 2014

    Great Advice!

    I usually start with the "What's wrong?/ Why are we here?" question. After I hear that, it is "How are you going to fix it?" Then I tell them to fix it.

    However, as others have said, it depends on the student. Most students I show the more firm side of me during these conferences and less of the caring side. My students know I care for them by how I treat them everyday in my classroom. Most of the time, these conferences are with students who know they are doing wrong. My goal in the short time I conference with them is to tell them they need to fix it and they are better than how they are acting.
     
  11. NorthStar4512

    NorthStar4512 Rookie

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    Jul 29, 2014

    Thanks for the replies, everyone. Thanks - good ideas!
     
  12. NewTeacherNJ

    NewTeacherNJ Rookie

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    Aug 7, 2014


    Curious - what do you do when the student doesn't really respond or just says i dont know. I always find difficulty prying meaningful answers out especially when you want a quick conference. Do you administer consequences at this time if an established reward/consequence is set up?
     
  13. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Aug 8, 2014

    When I first called students out to the hallway to talk to them during class time I would stress about what I was going to say as we were walking, lol. I wanted to remove the kid from the situation, have a private talk with him and sometimes, throttle some sense into him! The latter of course could not be accomplished without potential loss of employment and/or life, so I had to make the talk a good one.

    Because the walk was short I never came up with anything good. I would usually end up out in the hallway, looking at the student with a befuddled, What.the.heck look.

    [​IMG]

    Amazingly, my honest reaction was all it took 99% of the time. Students would just start talking on their own, without prompting. What I said depended upon what they told me. I'd offer suggestions for better behavior, remind them of potential consequences and also remind them that their future was on them. I was there to help them get where they wanted to be, but they had to do most of the work.

    A big thing is to walk back in as if nothing happened. The student doesn't want to appear as though he got dressed down and is walking back with his tail between his legs.

    If a one-to-one conference takes place after class because the behavior didn't need to be addressed further at the moment, I'll usually start talking. I don't say much. Sometimes a simply "you have GOT to start focusing more and leaving middle school behavior behind you. I don't want to have to talk to you again" is all it takes.
     

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