I have a thing for the naughty kids, the ones who curse and spit and do the exact opposite of what successful students are required to do.
I like the kids who frequent the office, refuse help, and show some fight.
Those kids make me smile. However, those kids drive most crazy.
Tough kids keep you from hitting your grove. They consume time and energy and often negatively impact the learning of others.
And if we are honest, it’s easy to want to write-off kids who drive you crazy, but resist the urge. Instead, I challenge you to follow these four steps to help you begin a positive relationship with that tough kid in your class.
Find the good. Dig. Fine, dig deep, really deep, and search for good. It’s buried underneath years of attitude and most likely learning problems, but find something good about this kid. Hold onto it. Guard it, and when you feel like giving up, keep coming back to the sliver of good.
Show others the good. Tough kids need a support network and so do you. After you find the good in your tough student, share it with others. Tell colleagues about the time he did the right thing or showed compassion. Focus on his sense of humor or his art skills, and allow this student to shine in a positive light. Help others find a reason to like this student so later when you are frustrated, they can remind you.
Connect on a personal level, but don’t take it personal. Tough kids act out, and here’s a secret. It’s rarely about the teacher. Try not to personalize poor behavior. You cannot allow talking back or slamming books to ruin a relationship.
Review short and simple behavior expectations frequently. Kids don’t need lectures twice every class period. They need short reminders in a matter-of-fact tone.
What about you? What are some tips and tricks you’ve seen succeed when working with tough kids?
Amy L. Sullivan, Special Education Teacher