"WHY?" The Questioners/Defiant Students

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by Teach2reach, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. Teach2reach

    Teach2reach Rookie

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    Jun 22, 2008

    Hi everyone,

    I have a question, how do you deal with a child that questions your authority and challenges it?

    I had some issues with a female student of mine always challenging what I said.

    Teacher:"Kim turn all the way around, please."
    Student:"WHY?"


    T:"Have a seat and I need you to be focused."
    S:"But I am focused!"

    I don't want to fight back and forth with my kids. Any advice on how to stop them from questioning would be great!

    Thanks,
    Gina
     
  2.  
  3. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    Jun 22, 2008

    Just don't argue...

    Repeat the original instruction one or more times depending on the student and your mood: "Turn around all the way around, please."

    If that doesn't work: "You have two choices, turn all the way around or (insert something the student won't like here)."

    If the student refuses to choose: "If you don't choose, I will, and you probably won't like the choice."

    Seldom do you have to resort to the second alternative.

    Once students learn this is what you will do, they generally don't argue much.
     
  4. Teach2reach

    Teach2reach Rookie

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    Jun 22, 2008

    Hi Malcolm,
    Thanks for the advice. It makes perfect sense! :)
    Love,
    Gina
     
  5. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Jun 22, 2008

    You might also want to work with your tone of voice. When I use a certain tone of voice, my students understand I expect them to comply. I still use please and thank you, but my tone of voice tells them they need to comply. IF they decide to question, I usually ask if they really want to ask "why" in a stronger tone. Finally I use Malcom's tactic - you have a choice. Very, very rarely do I ever have students question.
     
  6. Teach2reach

    Teach2reach Rookie

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    Jun 22, 2008

    Thanks INteacher. I do have to admit sometimes my tone comes out to be softer and sweeter. I need to work on that.

    I honestly do not understand the reason this student asked me "WHY?". She said it so abruptly...I was thinking it may be part of her impulsiveness. It almost sounded impulsive. (if that makes sense) So some kids, do not mean it. I'm unsure. She also had problems with interrupting and calling out.

    But I appreciate your advice!
    Love,
    Gina :)
     
  7. Ghost

    Ghost Habitué

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    Jun 22, 2008

    I agree with Malcolm....use the broken record. Keep repeating the direction over and over works for me. "Because I'm the mom (teacher)" works at home, maybe it would work at school :lol:
     
  8. missred4190

    missred4190 Comrade

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  9. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    I rarely get the "why" from my kiddos. They're more of the "huff/puff/eyeroll" crowd. I do have some of the "but I don't want to kids". I always tell them that they don't have to "want to", they just have to do it.
     
  10. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Jun 23, 2008

    You also might use hand signals and not voice. If you want them to sit down point to the chair for example. When directing them put yourself straight in front of them both feet facing the child.
     
  11. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Jun 24, 2008

    why's come from kids who have been given answers to everything. I usually repeat myself, and tell them:

    "What do you mean why? You know why! When the princpal asks me to do something, do you think I ask her why?"

    silence...

    they know who they can do this with

    it's called stalling, and defiance..

    yet, they constantly try it with everyone

    I also vote for the broken record routine
     
  12. texasmom

    texasmom Rookie

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    Love & Logic would fix this problem. I vote for putting the so-called "power" back into the hands of the student. Say, "You can either turn around or you can sit in this desk away from the rest of the class. The choice is your's. Whichever you decide is fine with me." Just make sure you are okay with both choices you give the student b/c whichever they choose, you must follow through with.
     
  13. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    EMonkey is on target regarding eliminating teacher talk and using body language.

    It is extremely difficult for a student to have a conversation with the teacher if teach won't participate. Anything the teacher says in response to back talk will almost always promote more back talk.
    Consider:

    Shut up - do not open your mouth to clarify, repeat, direct -- in short, do not add fuel to the fire. If you do talk it is actually rewarding the student and signals the student's tactic (back talk) is working. Expect more of the same.
     
  14. PowerTeacher

    PowerTeacher Comrade

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    Jun 25, 2008

    Here are the steps to take control of your class, and turn it into a fun place to learn, and a fun place for you to teach!

    What I am showing you here is the very basic classroom management components for Power Teaching. This is the tip of the iceberg. Try these in class and you will think they are magic! They are not, but you will think it.

    Pay particular attention to number 3, and read it more than once. If you like this I will tell you more on the academic areas that are even cooler than this!

    1) Class!-Yes!
    Power Teaching contains methods that are amazingly effective in classroom management. For the first step let’s get their attention, shall we?

    How many times have you started class, called for your class to get quiet, only to have a few kids comply, and several others continue chatting, apparently oblivious to your request? You ask for their attention again, a bit louder. At this point you can feel your blood pressure rising, right? After all by this time they should know how to follow procedures. They have certainly been trained in procedures similar to yours for years by the time they get to you, well, depending on what age your students are.
    Then why do they not listen? Why do you not already have their attention? You have work to do. You have planned carefully for class, they know it is coming, and they know what you expect them to do each day. So why is it that by now you are asking them for their attention for about the third time, and while you have the attention of most of them, some are still not with you. They are doggedly hanging onto the conversations they are in, even as your voice raises, and you become agitated.

    Now you are headed into a bad mood, or at least feeling the beginnings of frustration with the students and the darned class is only just beginning. To top it off some of the lovely moppets in your class are acting a though giving you their attention is a gigantic imposition for which you should be grateful to them. Now both you and they are in a hostile mood, and no one has learned anything yet.

    Does any of this sound familiar for any of your classes? If you would like to change that then read on.
    The technique to consistently catch the attention of the class is simple. It is so simple, and effective that I kicked myself for not having thought of it myself years ago, and have lamented many times since the instructional time I lost for not having known this.

    To get my classes’ attention I simply say ‘Class!’ and then they reply ‘Yes!’. Next is the catch, the hook that makes this fun, and gets them invested in it in a way that has them looking at me and grinning rather than continuing their conversations.
    When I say ‘Class!’ and they say ‘Yes!’ they have to say it the way I said it. If I say ‘Classity-class-class!’ they have to say ‘Yessity-yes-yes!’. If I say it loudly they have to respond loudly. If I whisper, they respond in a whisper. They have to match my intensity.

    Simple, hunh? It is amazing how effective this approach is. I used to be the teacher I described above. I often had to be. With middle schoolers in particular it was difficult to get their attention otherwise. Though, as a teacher, I have nearly inhuman patience (not on a par with saintly forbearance of an EC teacher, but still)

    I would find myself frustrated by the students’ inattention.
    Power Teaching uses a very simple and effective approach to overcome this resistance. Power Teaching injects fun back into the classroom for both you and your students.
    If this intrigues you, stay tuned. I promise you this is only the beginning.

    2) The Five Rules
    The following are five classroom rules that will make your life amazingly easier. One of them is nuclear power in your hands!

    If rules are only posted on your board they are not really a part of your class. You must have the rules running around in your students’ heads for them to be effective. It will also help you still extra talking in the class. Look for that as you read.
    Teach them as follows:

    Rule One: Follow directions quickly! (the gesture- make your hand shoot forward like a fish)

    Rule Two: Raise your hand for permission to speak (the gesture- raise your hand, then pull it down next to your head and make a talking motion. This rule will be the most commonly violated one. Watch below for how you stop this without criticism or negativity.)

    Rule Three: Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat. (the gesture- raise your and, and then make a little walking figure with your index and middle finger.)

    Rule Four: Make smart choices! (the gesture- tap one finger to your temple as you say each word.

    Rule Five
    : Keep your dear teacher happy! (the gesture- hold up each thumb and index finger out like an “L” frame your face, bob your head back and forth with each word and smile really big!)

    Each time you teach a rule repeat the rule before it, and then the new rule again. Ask me about Teach-OK and Switch! To see how you should have the kids teach each other- this and anything else in your class.

    Rule Two will be the most commonly violated, duh. You do not have to call anyone down, you do not have to mention names. If you are addressing the class and some kids are talking you stop, hold up two fingers and loudly say “RULE TWO!”

    Every kid in your class should repeat rule two out loud with gestures. It signals the violators to focus and not talk without you needing to call them down or cede them any power.

    Rule Five is nuclear power
    . Think about it- keep your dear teacher happy. THERE IS NO OUT! No student can convince you that they are making you happy. You are the worlds’ soul authority on what makes you happy. If they try to convince you they are making you happy you can tell them that does not make you happy.

    If a kid complains that they don’t know how to make you happy you can tell them that following the first four rules will make you happy.

    With rule five there is no out.

    If parents ask why their child should worry about making you happy you respond that you have the responsibility to teach their child and every other child in that class. The happier you are the better you can do your job to educate those kids.

    3) The Scoreboard Game

    Now it is time to learn about The Hook. How do you get cooperation from the group? The Hook. A reward system that they will buy into, and participate in. Here we come to the Scoreboard Game.

    The reward system provides positive reinforcement for following procedures, and positively reinforcing the same in their classmates. It works like this:

    On one side of your board you are going to draw a grid. The grid will be divided into two columns. In the top box of one draw a smiley face, in the top box of the other draw a frowny face. These simple drawings are perfect for elementary school kids as is.

    During class you will be rewarding a mark in the smiley section for procedures performed well. When you reward them with a smiley for their performance you can involve the kids in a really fun way. Walk to the board, raise your chalk or marker, or stylus, and address the class.
    “One second party!” You proclaim enthusiastically. Make a mark in the smiley section then point to the students. To this they respond by clapping and throwing their hands in the air and yelling “Oh, Yeah!”

    But there is a dark side here. Can you feel the tremor in the Force? Because, as you know, the kids do not always do as you ask (Gasp!). When this happens the frowny strikes!

    You walk to the board and add a mark the frowny column. Loudly proclaim, “Mighty Groan!” and point to the class. They must lift and then drop their shoulders and groan loudly! Since they are getting to make noise in class it is usually nearly as enthusiastic as the one second party (or Mighty Oh, Yeah!)

    One thing you must understand from the start and you will never tell the kids- the game is fixed. They will never win or lose more than you allow.

    Never let the difference in the number of smiley’s and frownies get greater than three. If you over reward they will stop working for it. If you let them get too far in the hole they will quit trying to win the reward. That is the reason for the +-3 rule.

    Smilies and frownies will build quickly at first, but fall off as they get better at procedures.

    There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind here. First, the entire purpose of this is to reinforce positive behavior in a fun, upbeat positive environment. Next, well...

    That is enough to read for now. If you want to know more about how to handle the back talking students, and the reluctant ones reply here and I will give more of the secrets of Power Teaching.

    “Power to the Teachers!”
     
  15. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Jun 26, 2008

    I really like some of the suggestions you gave. If you have more ideas add them. Thanks!
     
  16. Zelda~*

    Zelda~* Devotee

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    I've usually only had preschoolers ask me "Why" over commands. I'm usually a smart-alec right back at 'em. They love it.

    Kid: "Why?"
    Me: "Why not?"

    Kid: "Why?"
    Me: "Because I'm the teacher ah-ha-ha-ha-ha!"
    (This one will usually make the kids laugh, and inform me that I'm crazy.)

    Then, while everyone is 'happy' repeat the command with a smile. :D
     
  17. Tenured

    Tenured Rookie

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    what??? I say the teacher establishes what is expected and holds to it. Bargaining with students encourages future why's.


    I answer all "why" questions after the end bell. They must stick around and I will explain it to them. You can definately sort out which ones really want to know, and which ones are using it as a distractive behavior.


    "Why do we have seating charts?" is really saying "I want to sit by my friends"

    "why do we have homework?" is really saying "I don't want to do homework"

    The one I get the most is "why do we have to write questions and answers out"

    No matter how many times I answer that question, they always ask again, hence, my response "stick around after the bell, I'll tell you"

    They never stay
     
  18. Sam Aye M

    Sam Aye M Mr. Know-It-All

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    Jun 28, 2008

    I try to answer their "why's as honestly as possible the first time, but will quickly change my tune if I feel they are just trying to string me along to avoid something. It usually goes something like this:

    "Can you please face forward in your seat?"

    "Why?"

    "Well, because I am trying to teach class and you are disrupting class."

    "But I'm not even talking,"

    "You're not facing forward either, which is what you are supposed to do."

    "But Why?"

    "If you really want to know, I can meet with you after class to explain it to you."

    That is usually the end of the conversation. If it is the same kid asking the questions over and over, and I KNOW they know why, I will ask them to answer their own question, and they will stop. Also, I will sometimes just quietly walk up to a student and ask them very quietly to comply with my request, and that often works too, instead of calling out to them in front of everyone. Of course, broken record works too. I really have to pick and choose, depending on what that particular student will respond to best.
     
  19. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I totally agree with the broken record/tone of voice/body language suggestions. I'm a big fan of love and logic. It ends arguments before they can start and the kids figure out pretty fast that it's not even worth their effort.
     
  20. Teach2reach

    Teach2reach Rookie

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    Jun 29, 2008

    "Because I ask you to"

    Hi everyone,

    Thank you so much for ALL of the responses. They are all wonderful and offer great advice.

    In the conversation I posted earlier with the student...when I ask the student to turn all the way around and she asked WHY.

    I did reply with "Because I asked you to"

    Is this a bad/unprofessional way to respond?

    Again, thanks for your help :hugs:
     
  21. Tenured

    Tenured Rookie

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    Jun 29, 2008

    "I don't answer WHY questions over policy in class, turn around"
    if they ask again, repeat the same statement
    if they ask again, now they are defiant and it's time to switch up your response to start your discipline procedures
     
  22. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Nope, you're still in charge of the classroom, and as long as you're not asking them to do anything unreasonable, "because I said so" is perfectly fine. Engaging in any sort of "debate" on these matters is useless, and will only lead to more problems. I work in an inner city middle school, and the broken record techniques works even with these very jaded kids. Once the kids realize they can't argue with you, they'll stop trying. It's simply the nature of kids to test limits. Show them firmly but gently where the limits are at the begining and the rest of the year goes fairly smoothly.
     
  23. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Jun 29, 2008

    "Turn around."

    "Why?"

    "Because you are at school and at school people face forward and listen to the teacher."
     
  24. Teach2reach

    Teach2reach Rookie

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    Jul 1, 2008

    THANK YOU!!!!!
     
  25. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    I read this post the other day, but I didn't reply because I didn't have a response. Today I was reading "Tools for Teaching" and I came across a chapter that made me think of this thread.

    Fred Jones' advice for dealing with students who are looking for a power trip is to simply not speak! To me, it's brilliant in it's simplicity. I don't have my book with me, but he puts it like this - the best way to get a person to talk to you is to talk to them. HA! He makes a good point!

    Basically, if a student is looking to argue, they're most likely trying to look "big" in front of their friends. If they argue, but you just stare and don't speak, basically they're left speaking to themselves. It will be interesting to try this tactic the next time I need it.
     
  26. Sam Aye M

    Sam Aye M Mr. Know-It-All

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    I do that all the time. It's tricky though, because you don't want to to send the message that you don't care, you just want to show that you are not going to debate them on the current issue. I talk to them at first, but once we are going in circles, I state what I need to state, and then stop talking. The last thing I usually tell them is "I'll be waiting outside/at my desk/etc. Let me know when you are ready to talk/leave/etc." Most of the time it works, but sometimes it doesn't. Last week, a student tantrumed for an hour when I tried this tactic. I use it on her a lot, so it is kinda surprising that it didn't work that time.
     
  27. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    I'm a little confused when you say "I do that all the time" referring to Jones' technique, Limit Setting, during back talk then go on to add you "talk to them at first... state what I need to state... I'll be waiting outside..." all of which are teacher talk and not part of any Jones' training I'm aware of. Can you clarify?
     
  28. Sam Aye M

    Sam Aye M Mr. Know-It-All

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    First of all, I don't even know who Jones is, or any of the techniques he uses. I was responding to your method (or Jones's really) of avoiding power struggles with kids by not talking. My "not talking" consists of telling them what is expecting, then not arguing with them about it. In these instances, I don't use the broken record technique, or try to reason with them, but just sit there and stare at them, or sometimes walk away to my desk. The idea behind it is that it takes two people to have a power struggle. If you refuse to engage, there really isn't much of a struggle. Eventually, they usually come around and do what you want them to do without all the drama, and if it happens in front of the other students, they too realize that trying to have a power struggle will just be a waste of time.
     
  29. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Thanks for clarifying. You are already doing part of Jones' method - the "stare" part and have "takes two to tango" figured out. I like.
     
  30. Sam Aye M

    Sam Aye M Mr. Know-It-All

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    Jul 2, 2008

    Another thing that you said in your original post was "The best way to get someone to talk to you is to talk to them." I use that to my advantage as well when dealing with students who are having a tantrum, or are clearly upset about something. SOmetimes, they will come right out and tell you what is wrong, but other times, they will clam up, decide that everyone is against them, and just continue to yell, or refuse to talk about it. Or they will continue to hit, kick, bite, run away, etc. Rather than continue to ask them what is wrong (which clearly isn't going to work), I try to talk to them about something else completely, just to get them to engage. It could be "Did you go to the zoo trip last week?" or "Did you watch American Idol?" or something really off the wall that just snaps them out of the "I'm angry" mode. Eventually, we'll get around to what is making them angry, but first, I just want to get them talking about anything. The hardest part of using this technique (as well as the silent treatment) is getting the other adults involved to buy in to the techniques. Often, they will talk when I am trying the silent treatment, or they will start contradicting what the angry child is saying (as if I don't already know the child is lying), which just escalates the child, and then I end up referring the fight between the child and the adult.

    In the end, I believe a mark of a good, experienced teacher is the ability to have a "bag of tricks" of techniques to handle behavior problems, and then knowing more or less which ones to use at which times. These are things, of course, that really come best with experience.
     
  31. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Huh? Where, when did I say this?
     
  32. Sam Aye M

    Sam Aye M Mr. Know-It-All

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    Here.... except that it wasn't you, it was Pisces. :)

     
  33. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    What Jones means is if one engages a lippy student with talk it becomes a game of verbal volleyball -- teacher's words almost always guarantee a comeback from student. In training teachers pair up, one playing role of lippy student trying to derail teacher with all kinds of back talk - compliments to insults. Although keeping silent is part of the method, body language is what really sends the message. Seeing their tactic (upset the teacher, control agenda) isn't working students typically run out of things to say and give up. Engage students with talk and tactic is working. Expect more of the same.
     
  34. pontiac8411

    pontiac8411 Rookie

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    I love the Fred Jones book for discipline. It is awesome.
     
  35. returnteach

    returnteach Rookie

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    Jul 6, 2008

    This is exactly like my daughter. Everything why why why. Do you know why three year olds ask why? Not because they want to know but because they want attention.
    : ) If you give them positive attention another time they shouldn't need negative attention.

    Ignore, ignore, ignore.
     

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