Saturday, June 26, 2021

Part Two of the Series Just for New Teachers

How to Successfully Support Difficult and Challenging Students


One of the most common problems faced by beginning teachers is the often perplexing problem of difficult and challenging students. Last week, in Part One, I covered some suggestions for avoiding classroom power struggles. In this part of the series, I want to provide some general suggestions to guide your thinking. 

First, coping successfully with challenging students is not something that can usually be managed in a day or so. Difficult students did not develop their behaviors overnight. Generally, the behaviors that are not appropriate for a classroom setting are ones that students learned over a period of time. With that in mind, you will be more productive and far more likely to help these students if you take a measured, well-planned course of action. Take your time and help your students learn how to be successful rather that just insist on compliance. 

There are all sorts of mistakes that it possible for even the most well-intentioned teacher to make with students who are struggling with school. If you find yourself having to deal with a disruptive student or two, you may want to consider if you have made of of the mistakes in this list below. Of these mistakes, perhaps the most common one is the last one--giving too much attention to students who are causing trouble in class. Instead of reacting in a negative way, ignore as much as you can and find ways to make these students feel that they are part of the class--not on the outside with nothing to lose. 

When you look at this list, do you see your own classroom leadership style? Could you be adding to the problem?

A final thought to help you with this issue is the biggest take away. Instead of being upset and negative and stressed out, adopt the attitude that classroom misbehavior is a problem that can be solved. You are no longer the victim of unruly students, but instead a classroom leader who is willing and capable of helping all students learn to manage their own behavior and succeed in your class. 

Monday, June 21, 2021

A New Series Just for Beginning Teachers 

When the pandemic began, I had five upcoming speaking engagements that I was particularly looking forward to. At all of them, I would be helping groups of teachers figure out ways to deal successfully with their most challenging students so that those students could be successful classroom citizens. And, of course, my hope was that their teachers could also enjoy their profession more without the debilitating stress that accompanies trying to deal with unruly and difficult students.

The pandemic changed everything. 

At home, I watched as teachers were hailed as heroes for the way they managed the incredible task of teaching kids during the pandemic lockdown. And not just teaching: seeing that their students were fed and cared for even when normal classroom support systems were not available. I watched with pride as teachers everywhere found the grace and patience to connect with their students in new ways. 

And then that changed, too. With growing despair, I watched as teachers were vilified for not doing enough. NOT DOING ENOUGH? 

Now there's the "surprising" news that there will be a record shortage of educators this fall. Of course, there will be. Incredibly difficult jobs + unrealistic expectations + stinking heaps of public criticism do not make make becoming an educator a popular career choice.

Old news, I know, to those of you who lived it. But, despite everything, better times lie ahead. I fully believe that. As the horrors of the pandemic begin to fade, education is still a worthy and personally fulfilling profession. You help people change their lives when you are an educator. 

To help beginning teachers adjust to their new profession, I plan to publish some of the slides that I had prepared for my pre-pandemic presentation. My hope is to provide a weekly framework of suggestions to help new teachers find ways to support and work well with all of their students--not just the most difficult or challenging ones. 

So, to start, here are a few thoughts about how to avoid one of the most common classroom problems: power struggles.