What do you do with "that" student????

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by Learner4Life, Apr 15, 2008.

  1. Learner4Life

    Learner4Life Cohort

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    Apr 15, 2008

    I have been having a problem with a 7th grade student and I'm really tired of it. This student is arogant (he's dating an 8th grader and thinks he's hot stuff), smart mouthed, a bully to younger students, and basically an all out @**! I feel like every time I talk to him it's a battle of wills and a power struggle. I hate feeling like I'm on my toes with him all the time and I'm tired of the power issues. Normally I can ignore him or deal with him in brief spirts but he has now joined my track team and now what was supposed to be a fun experience is making me regret ever signing up to coach.
    So I guess what I'm asking is how do you handle a student who constantly wants to engage in a power struggle with you?:thanks:
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Apr 15, 2008

    First, don't ever involve him in a power struggle! If you can, give this student choices (that you can live with) that will work for him and for you. And then give him those choices in a monotone voice.
     
  4. synapse

    synapse Comrade

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    Apr 15, 2008

    The first thing to recognize is that it is a perfectly normal human reaction to experience the FEELINGS that a troubling student is emulating. So, for example, when students are aggressive, we (teachers) tend to feel those aggressive feelings and then BEHAVE counteraggressively. The same is true for withdrawn students. We tend to withdraw from withdrawn students. This is a well documented and typical response.

    First, you must control your own thoughts and behaviors and NOT become counteraggressive.

    Make the expectations clear. Be positive and be consistent in enforcing the expectations. Come up with logical consequences for his misbehavior.

    Perhaps, if you could supply a more specific example of the behavior, when it occurs and how you and he respond, we could provide suggestions that were more specific.
     
  5. Learner4Life

    Learner4Life Cohort

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    Apr 15, 2008

    Example:
    The other day when I had recess duty, he kicked his shoes off while running. I told him, in a non-confrontational voice, to get his shoes back on. He imediately got defensive and asked why. I told him it was school rules to keep your clothing on at school, including shoes. He then said "well are you going to buy me new ones" and I said "no" (almost laughingly) and he said "then you'll just have to deal with it" I said "no, you'll keep your shoes on or you will have a detention" (it's the principal's policy that we have to warn them that we're going to give them a detention first, otherwise I would've just let it go at that and then the next time he kicked his shoes off given him one... I wanted to back away from the conversation at that point but felt I had to give him the next step if he didn't comply) and then I said "if you have a problem with the school rules you can go and talk to the principal" To which he walked straight into the principals office. He then told all his classmates and friends that I gave him a detention for taking his shoes off and got "booed" the next time I saw his class.

    My last interaction with him was last night at track practice and I know I handled it completely wrong but Synapse you're right, I let my emotions get the best of me. We were just learning about the high jump and I was going to have them run in circles and then jump to help show that when they run in circles, the motion automatically twists your body so you use less effort to get over the bar. I got about 2 seconds into my explanation before the kid jumps up and says "this is stupid I'm not running in circles" and I said "that's fine, then you can't do the high jump. This is what we're doing now" and he said "fine" and walked out. I'm now thinking I should have made him run stairs or something.
     
  6. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    For the first situation, I probably would have told him "You can either choose to put your shoes on now, or ___________ (another choice that works with your schoo's policy) Sorry, drawing a blank on this one.

    The second situation I would have said "You can learn to do it correctly, or do it incorrectly at meets and not even have the chance to win."
     
  7. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Apr 15, 2008

    Smalltown: In the first situation, it seemed very clear to me that the choices were put on your shoes or get detention. Not always are all the choices equally fun; the consequences help us choose.
     
  8. teachin4ever

    teachin4ever Cohort

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    It sounds like this kid really likes to get you riled up! I've got an idea for you, and although I've never tried this with middle school, I have used it in elementary school and it works like a charm.

    In the example you gave us, you said the boy took his shoes off and you told him to put them back on. Then he asked why. I see this as kind of a tug of war with a rope. You told him to do something and by asking why, he's pulling the rope towards him. Then you answer him and you're pulling the rope toward you. It keeps going like this until someone "wins". My advice to you would be to never pick up the rope. So when he asked why after you gave him directions, try looking at him and repeating yourself. If he says why again, repeat yourself again. No matter what he says to get you to pick up that rope, keep repeating yourself. Eventually, he'll see you aren't going to play his game and he'll put his shoes back on and leave. In theory, at least!

    Give it a try and see what happens! Like I said, I've used this before and it works great! They get frustrated, but as long as you don't pick up that rope, there's no power struggle - you win.

    Good Luck!!! :)
     
  9. synapse

    synapse Comrade

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    I agree with you and others who point out that you are engaging in a power struggle. You will not win. When dealing with middle schoolers and high schoolers, power struggles frequently place you between the offending student and their peers. For this developmental level, peers win over teachers every time.

    You've got to keep yourself out of the power struggle. One way to keep calm is to reflect back to the student what you are observing. In your first example..."I see you've kicked your shoes off, you'll need those if you want to continue with recess." If he basically says, "screw you," then he sits. End of story. (of course, this has to be clear before hand. you can't make rules up on the spot.)

    I think your interaction at track was better. Forcing him to do stairs may have made you feel better, but I think it would have extended the conflict.

    Make the expectations clear. Be consistent. Use logical consequences.
     
  10. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Apr 15, 2008

    I use this method with middle schoolers and it works like a charm with them. The caveat here is that you wind up having to say it 12-15 times with the really stubborn ones and it can be hard to keep saying it in an emotionless voice.
     
  11. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Thank you. This is what I was trying to think of saying for the first situation. I just had a brain freeze.
     
  12. Learner4Life

    Learner4Life Cohort

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    Thanks for the great advice guys! It's hard as a young teacher not to engage in these power struggles with the kids cuz I want to prove myself but it'll make me a stronger teacher in the long run to just back out. (the sad thing is, I know this and I still continue to do it :blush:)
     
  13. smilingteacher

    smilingteacher Rookie

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    Apr 15, 2008

    wow I must be mean here is what I would say, "Put on your shoes or go home." If they miss practice, they dont play in the following game. Im sure some parents would hate me, but I would not enjoy any child disrespecting a coach like that.
     
  14. KatieJ

    KatieJ Rookie

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    Apr 16, 2008

    Ha, I thought that too... but then I re-read the post and it was during recess. Always helps to read.
     
  15. CanadianTeacher

    CanadianTeacher Groupie

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    Apr 18, 2008

    One question: Why is this kid on the track team? Being on sports teams is a privilege and when disrespect like that is happening, they don't deserve to be on. In my school, they are off in a flash if they can't show proper respect and keep up with their own responsibilities as a student.
     
  16. cmw

    cmw Groupie

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    Apr 19, 2008


    I thought the same thing. If this is an extracurricular activity then you do not have to allow him to be on it. With my difficult students I try 1 on 1 conversations first followed up by parent contact. If it continues...out he goes. If it is something he wants to be on hopefully his attitude could be changed for the better in the classroom and outside it. Good luck! :D
     
  17. Budaka

    Budaka Cohort

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    I bet he is good at track. I have several middle school students who are very cocky because they are atheletes. And if I ever did anthing to get them off the team I probably would not have a job next year. It is sad, but I have come to accept the reality of sports ruling in some schools. Now that the "important" sports are over I have not received any harassing phone calls from my seventh grade parents like I have for the rest of the school year.

    Seventh graders are in a world of their own. I had a student walk out my classroom the other day because I wouldn't let him be team capitan for the game we were playing!
     
  18. letsteach

    letsteach Comrade

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    The technique subbin4now adovcates is what we call the 'broken record' technique (for those who remember black vinyls when the needle gets stuck). I use it and it has been very effective. The idea is to stick to your instruction and not engage in an interaction. Once you are engaged in an interaction, they've got you, but if you stick to your guns and repeat your instruction, the student realises you are not going to interact and complies.
     
  19. Learner4Life

    Learner4Life Cohort

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    Turns out, the kid quit track so now I can go back to my normal "less is more" interaction with him. I'll remember these tips when I'm dealing with the rest of the track team though.
     
  20. AspieTeacher

    AspieTeacher Comrade

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    May 13, 2008

    Learner4life,

    I agree with the repeating what you want the student to do. If he keeps asking why, just repeat the direction. I would also document what is occurring during these "power struggles" because you need to cover yourself. I have learned after working with students who are verbal that you can't trust them at all. I know this sounds cynical, but we are teachers not parents. There are some students who will twist the story and if you have documentation to back up what occurred, they will realize who is making up the stories. This also counts towards character as well. If you feel that this occurring frequently, I would bring it to the attention of his family. Document what you have observed-specifically without generalizations. This protects you from being too emotional. I know the feeling, I had students that I used to "argue" with and I finally have decided to let them know "what is your choice" and ignore the "why?" The why is the first sign of a power struggle. Also, you should share with the principal or assistant principal how frequently you observe this behavior. This will determine if he is really "responsible" enough to be in track. There are consequences for your choices, and you have to let the student know that this will be his choice.

    Aspieteacher
     

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