This is going to be a tough one!

What do you do when you have a difficult student to contend with?  That’s a very big problem for teachers, and definitely not an easy fix (they never are, are they?)

I believe every year I have at least one student who commands more attention from me than others.  Sometimes there are three or four (sometimes there are 27!) But every year there are at LEAST one of them.  It’s important to think of them as exciting challenges, like flying down a zip line in the rainforest, or climbing the highest rock wall at REI.  They are a challenge to overcome, and we will feel like superstars when we survive!

It’s normal for there to be challenges, and it’s normal for those challenges to take more of your time.  It’s the nature of teaching.  A police man is in charge of ALL of our safety, but there are certain people in your neighborhood, I”m sure, who get more of his attention than others.  And when a carpenter works on ornate cabnitry they’ll take their time, but will probably breeze thorugh a simple pine bench.  Teachers have projects that take a little more of their time than others, and that’s okay.

What isn’t okay, though, is to short change the pine bench (students who need less guidance).  We need to make sure they are not neglected.  One way to do this is to assign student helpers, who can give assistance for minor problems – usually those students who are done early.  For things they can’t handle, I have a comment/question box.  Students who need something, but I am otherwise engaged, should skip the problem and move on in the questions.  If they still need help (or if it’s something personal or not urgent) they can write it down, and I’ll get to look though the comments/questions later and can make sure everyone is attended to.  Otherwise they might get lost in the shuffle.

But that still doesn’t attend to the difficult student, and there are BOOKS written about that.   One of them that is helpful is “The tough kids toolbox“.  It’s got a lot of resources.  It depends on the situation, but I will say that consistency helps – don’t let him get away with one thing once and then punish it later when you’ve finally “had enough.”  You have to be consistent, or they’ll just play the numbers.  “well, I got punished two times ago, so I figure I can do it once or twice before she blows up again…”  Of course, you’ve also got to pick your battles – just be consistent on the battles you DO pick.

But you’ll go back and forth on this – am I being too stern, not stern enough….you’ll make yourself sick.  Just do what you think is right, and not worry too much about “but he’s not LEARNING anything.”  You’re doing your best, and he or she wouldn’t be getting a better education anywhere else.  Stop the questioning of yourself and you’ll do a lot better. 

So – in short – make sure you don’t neglect the others, but realize they’re not going to get equal time.  Try your best with them, and then let it go.  You only have them for maybe 4 hours a day at most.  You just do what you can.  The rest is up to the PARENTS. 🙂

About misteredie1

I am a husband, father, teacher and principal who loves to help students learn and reach their highest potential. I believe teaching is the ground floor to a better world - the children ARE the future!

3 responses to “This is going to be a tough one!”

  1. keith edie says :

    Louboo Makoo,(sp), what a go getter you are. Smart, insightful, thoughtful and empathic on top of it. You obviously get your creative drive and stamina from your mom. I like to think you get your take no guff from anyone from me. Where ever it comes from, you have got it going on my son and I am proud of you.
    Go Mr. Edie.

  2. Amara says :

    Thank you for the tips. I’m doing teaching practice and am having a not-so-easy time. First was the student’s proficiency problem and the need to tailor to their level.. Second came many behaviour problems and somehow the second overwhelmed the first. Everytime I punish some students, I question myself am I too strict and when I let them be,it’s like I’m too lenient. There’s also the worry that if i spend much time managing their behaviours, they won’t be learning anything! You’re right.. one goes crazy questioning themselves.

    • misteredie1 says :

      I’m glad to hear you got a little bit out of the post! I’m also glad to hear I’m not the only one constantly questioning myself. Keep up the good work! It takes 100 bad incidents to get to the one golden gem where you touch a life. It’s worth it!

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