Why You Should Limit Your Contact With Difficult Students Smart Classroom Management

4 min read

Here at SCM we talk a lot about the importance of letting your classroom management plan do the work of improving behavior for you.

About how this approach . . .

Saves time.

Lowers stress.

Builds rapport.

Embodies fairness.

Engenders trust.

Inspires respect.

It’s also a lot more effective than trying to convince, remind, persuade, intimidate, appease, flatter, lecture, reward, counsel, manipulate, or falsely praise students into behaving.

So much so that it actually changes behavior.

The SCM way of nothing-personal accountability is best for all students. However, it’s especially effective with difficult students. In fact, it’s the only thing that really works.

It’s the only thing that when combined with a learning experience they look forward to turns them into happy and contributing members of your class.

It does this this because it removes YOU from the accountability equation. You see, when there is no one to blame or rail against, your most challenging students naturally begin to point the finger at themselves—often for the very first time.

You’re just the referee.

As long as your enforcement of consequences is triggered to a tee by the transgression of your rules, and applied the same for every student, they’ll never blame you. As long as you’ve defined your boundaries with exacting clarity, they can’t.

Their reasoning, unique to the human condition, won’t let them. They may get angry at the universe. They may even pretend to get angry at you. But they’ll be unable to contort the blame and responsibility of their mistakes in your direction.

It’s like backing a car into a light pole. It’s not the pole’s fault. It’s not the car’s fault. It’s not because your mom didn’t cut the crusts off your sandwiches when you were a child. It’s your fault. It was a mistake, granted, and we all make them, but you can’t hide from the truth.

You have no choice but to own it and accept the consequence. Stark reality is the best teacher.

It’s the same with students. When they own it because there is no other choice—because you never let them off the hook—they’re forced to consider the only option available: They’re the problem. Yes, they may try like mad to justify and squirm and lie their way out of it.

But the truth always wins, inevitably, as long as you stay the course. Soon, they’ll begin to make better choices and witness the fruits of those choices. All on their own, which leads to change.

But you have to let your classroom management plan to do it’s good work without your interference. You have to refrain from lecturing, appeasing, or telling misbehaving students what to think and how to feel. You have to stop the condescending rewards and manipulation.

You have to stop all the excuses.

My most challenging students call me sir. Every one of them. I’ve never asked them to. Nor have I asked why they do it. I assume it’s out of respect, which is good, of course.

But it’s not me, not personally anyway. It’s the approach. In this day and age, more than ever (because it’s so rare), students thrive when responsibility and accountability, unattached to anyone or anything but them, is placed on their shoulders.

So I heap it on. Day after day. I take seriously my responsibility for great lessons, good humor, consistent kindness, and following my plan like an NFL referee.

Listening, behaving, and learning, however, is on them.

And it’s that weight that transforms, that opens their eyes, that enables them to stand on their own two feet, accept both credit and blame, and become the mature, contented, and respectful students we want them to be.

PS – A lot of SCM topics were touched on in this article. Please see the archive or use the Search bar for more information.

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