The Three Strikes You’re Out Approach to Dealing with Difficult Students!
While there are literally hundreds of books regarding teacher effectiveness and pedagogy, simplifying teacher practice into a mere three suggestions can unquestionably assist to the success in which all teachers want to enjoy while overcoming a lack of student achievement and classroom management. One would think these three unacceptable and psychologically destructive behavioral actions employed by teachers, ought not to be going on in classrooms? Think again.
Unfortunately, the sad fact of the matter is these actions go on in schools all across the world. They are used and implemented by teachers primarily as a defense mechanism in reaction to non-compliant behavior, undesirable behavior or a lack of respect displayed by students. They are a primitive attempt at behavior modification by poor quality teachers from the new to the veteran, as well as licensed qualified teachers who lack compassion, empathy, experience, and understanding dealing with behavioral and psychological issues that students bring to school with them. More times than not they often manifest themselves in school in the form of their actions and communications. Often teachers forget, or choose to ignore, the issues and problems children bring with them to school on a daily basis. It is this proverbial baggage which lies at the root of students being both non compliant and disrespectful.
These counter behaviors and reactions on behalf of teachers occur and are ongoing in classes all over. There impact and effect is different however, given the age and grade level of the student. Nonetheless, how some teachers behave and communicate, it can cause irrevocable damage to the fragile minds and hearts of youth still forming their personalities. Older children in particular are used to and have probably already experienced these behaviors and words and actions many times over, thus resulting in a defensive posture and mode. Younger children more so or often times, due to their inability and maturity in knowing how to reply and or defend themselves, often hold their reactions to this inappropriate and unacceptable teacher conduct deep within themselves. In all likelihood it will manifest itself in their future actions not only in school, but how they deal with others and most importantly their own children as they raise them. I think most quality teachers, and would like to believe ALL teachers, with a compassionate and humanistic approach to being an effective and quality classroom teacher and compassionate communicator, as well as a person, will agree with the following points;
1. Berating & Embarrassing a student is amongst the worse things an adult in a classroom can do to a student. Equally as damaging, is the behavior and communication when done on a one to one basis? Regardless of the forum or venue, as a parent or a child yourself, you probably have had this experience. The resulting reaction or lack of reaction on behalf of a student or child will most likely have both short and long term consequences in which will result in an even more aloof, insecure and non compliant child or student. To begin, or to be a part of the destruction of another human beings self esteem is the ultimate result of berating another, and not the business of what education is all about. It is simply an intolerable action and practice which needs to be eliminated immediately from the confines of any and all school buildings. Educators must know and be cognizant in their interpersonal communications with their students; it is these children who are most often the ones who lack these characteristics to begin with. Embarrassing a student is in most regards the same as the aforementioned point, whether blatant or not, it is oftentimes used and displayed by teachers in more clandestine and sarcastic ways. Although often times used as a tactic to modify and correct inappropriate behavior, the effects are the same. Ultimately, it will create mistrust on behalf of the student while fostering a climate and culture in a classroom much to the same ends. The same impact and effect will be the result when berating a student…
2. Yelling at students more times than not occur in conjunction with the other two points mentioned above. Whether a student or teacher wants to admit it or not this is potentially the most psychologically damaging to a child. Each time a teacher raises their voice to a difficult of disruptive student it is like a thunderbolt in which strikes deep into the heart of another person! Again, it not only reveals a teachers lack of professionalism, self-control, compassion and understanding but also speaks volumes as to their inability or unwillingness to dealing appropriately and effectively with a child who is non compliant or difficult. We all carry baggage with us daily and ongoing, yet an adult who has experienced much more pain, stress and suffering personally should be able to check and recognize the short term impact and direction, as well as the long term effects this is going to have on a child who is still growing and being shaped emotionally and mentally…
In summation, I offer just a few of quotes in which inspired and resonated with me in writing this blog, while forming my opinion and practice regarding dealing with children and students over the years. I sincerely hope this article has resonated with you as well, and that you may find it useful in assisting your staff or colleagues be the great teachers and mentors they are striving to be, and I know that deep within they can be! Peace.
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Frederick Douglass
“Your student should not leave your class the same way they walked in.” George Stewart (PLN colleague and friend)
“Teach like there is a camera in the room. Like it because with cell phones there always is.” Todd Whitaker (PLN colleague and friend)
“The surest way to ensure a productive organization is to treat the people you work with, and for, with dignity, fairness and respect.” Joe Clark (PLN colleague and friend)
“Kindness gives birth to kindness.” Sophocles
“Nothing is more damaging to you than to do something you know is wrong.” Abraham
“To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.” Stephen Covey
“There is nothing stronger than gentleness.” Abraham Lincoln
“Any man can do harm to another, but not every man can do good to another.” Aristotle
“A teacher effects eternity; they can never tell where their influence stops.” Henry Adams
“A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things in which renew humanity. Siddartha Gautama
“The tongue has the power of life and death.” Proverbs 18:21
“The man who forgives is far stronger than the man who fights.” Nathan Croall
“Kindness is a language we can all understand, the blind can see it, and the deaf can hear it.” Mother Teresa
“The truth of the matter is we always know the right thing to do. ‘The hard part is doing it.” Robert Schuler
“The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.” Capt. Jack Sparrow (aka Johnny Depp)
“Be kind, for everyone you meet and deal with is fighting a hard battle.” Socrates
“If you want others to be happy practice compassion, if you want to be happy practice compassion.” Dali Lama
“The secret in education lies in respecting the student.” Ralph Waldo Emerson