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Dealing with Difficult Students

Managing difficult student behavior is exhausting. Expert in compassionate discipline, Grace Dearborn, provides words of wisdom. According to Dearborn, teachers lasting several years:

  • Have, and know how to use many effective tools for intervening with student misbehavior.
  • Empathize with the rotten experiences individuals must be dealing with outside the classroom if they are acting out inside the classroom.
  • Don't let it get to them down when they intermittently have bad days or bad moments with students.
  • Don't see themselves as failures when a student doesn't succeed or change his or her behavior.

This list seems easier said than done. Dearborn further goes on to say, “Most of us routinely invest huge amounts of energy into our most challenging students, more than is healthy or sustainable." The first question I am posing this group is about self-care. How do you help the most challenging students without completely ‘depleting’ ourselves?

Continuing her article, Dearborn discusses compassionate discipline when dealing with difficult students. She says, “We keep holding them accountable for their behavior. Even consequences for non-compliance or defiance can be given from a place of internal empathy, while being firm and consistent. It's the difference between giving a consequence that will teach them to make better choices and giving a consequence because we are sick and tired of their behavior and want to punish them for making our lives harder.” Her action steps for dealing with difficult students include the following:

  • Assume the Best. Student resistance is natural or normal.
  • Offer a Choice. The student needs to be clear that he or she has a choice to engage in the expectations or to continue to demonstrate difficult behavior.
  • Respect the Choice Made. Whether the student chooses to comply or chooses to continue to resist, this is not personal.
  • Give the Consequence.

My second question to you is what are your action steps for dealing with difficult students?

I look forward to your ideas and strategies. 

Kathy Tracey