This article was co-authored by Katie Styzek. Katie Styzek is a Professional School Counselor for Chicago Public Schools. Katie earned a BS in Elementary Education with a Concentration in Mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She served as a middle school mathematics, science, and social studies teacher for three years prior to becoming a counselor. She holds a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in School Counseling from DePaul University and an MA in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. Katie holds an Illinois School Counselor Endorsement License (Type 73 Service Personnel), an Illinois Principal License (formerly Type 75), and an Illinois Elementary Education Teaching License (Type 03, K – 9). She is also Nationally Board Certified in School Counseling from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
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Pretty much everyone will have a teacher they don’t like at some point. It can be discouraging and annoying, but usually it’s not the end of the world. In most cases, you can make some adjustments to help you deal with your teacher and get through the school year without too much trouble. In more serious cases, you might need to sit down and have a conversation with your teacher, your counselor, or your parents.
As a teacher, shy students can present a real challenge. You want to support every child in the classroom, but you know you have to walk a fine line when attempting to draw them out and encouraging participation. One shy student’s gentle encouragement to come out of the shell may end up being another shy student’s worst nightmare!
So how do you support shy students in a manner that builds their confidence and helps them join the classroom fun? We talked to the experts to get some tips to help you help the shy students in your classroom!
Why Are Some Students Shy?
When it comes to dealing with shy students, understanding the root of the issue is a good way to start. Scientists who’ve studied shyness estimate that as much as 30 percent of those who we’d describe as shy are the way they are for one simple reason: genetics! Other students may show signs of shyness because they’re in a new and unfamiliar environment — often common in younger children who are new to school or students who are new to the district.
Finding out why a student is shy comes down to doing a little digging into their history says Dr. Nikki Lacherza-Drew, PsyD, a licensed psychologist from Allendale, NJ.
“Talk to past teachers and parents!” she advises. “Shyness typically doesn’t just come out of nowhere, and most parents and teachers will take notice in preschool or kindergarten.”
Occasionally there is a more serious cause for concern, and if something feels off about your student’s shyness, it’s best to reach out to your student’s parents and your school guidance department as soon as possible.
“It is important to have the student appropriately observed and even tested to rule out the possibility of a learning disorder or other neurodevelopmental disorder,” Lacherza-Drew says. “Be proactive instead of reactive and try to get to know the students — not just have them as a number in the classroom.”
Don’t feel that your student’s shyness rises to that level of concern? We asked the experts to share some other helpful tips for teachers to support shy students.
Encourage and Support Shy Students in Your Class
Remember They’re Not Doing This on Purpose
Shy students may come off as insubordinate, Lacherza-Drew warns, and treating a shy child as you might one who is being naughty can only exacerbate the symptoms.
“Too much anxiety doesn’t allow our brains to appropriately process or recall information,” she notes.
In fact, shy students who are afraid to ask questions can easily fall behind, and if they’re frequently anxious about having to participate in class, they may start engaging in school refusal, Lacherza-Drew says. This goes back to getting at the root cause of the behavior and meeting students where they are at.
Start with Non-Verbal Communication
Plenty of elementary students love to talk. How many times have you had to say “save it for after class”? But for shy students who don’t tend to speak up, you’ll want to start with non-verbal ways that they can communicate with you so that you can begin to build that all-important teacher-student relationship.
- Allow students to put a sticky note or other silent indicator on their desk to let you know when they need help.
- Encourage the entire class to take part in non-verbal responses to questions such as holding up cards with answers or doing something else with their body (e.g. any student who thinks the answer is A should put their head down)
Let Them Move at Their Own Pace
“Adults have good intentions, but oftentimes they have their own set of expectations from how they were raised or how they parent,” says Audrey Grunst, licensed clinical social worker and CEO of Simply Bee Counseling. “It is not fair to place those personal expectations on a student.” Instead, she suggests taking cues from your student and following their lead as to how quickly they can move along the path in developing social skills.
Use Positive Reinforcement
“Punishment is not effective in changing behavior,” Lacherza-Drew reminds teachers. On the other hand, positive reinforcement can go a long way in helping shy kids slowly modify their behavior.
“At the beginning, the smallest change in behavior for a shy student, such as using that sticky note or going up to the teacher to ask a question … REWARD IT!” Lacherza-Drew advises. “Show the student that you are noticing what they are doing, you appreciate the effort and want them to continue the behavior.”
Rewards can be as simple as a few stickers or a special badge.
Learn Their Triggers
Are there specific things that cause your shy students to retreat and become more introverted? You can talk to the student, their parents, the guidance department, or past teachers to find out what their triggers are, Lacherza-Drew says. Next? Talk to the student and work together to problem-solve.
“You might be surprised by what they come up with!” she says.
Avoid Labeling Them
“Comments like ‘why are you so shy’ or ‘don’t be shy’ are not helpful,” Lacherza-Drew warns. “The student has most likely heard them from others and this may only further embarrass them.”
Create Safe Spaces With Friends
Does your shy student have a pal they’re comfortable with? Assigning the two children to work together or setting their assigned seats next to one another can help your shy student feel more comfortable.
Give Them a Job
When handing out jobs in the classroom, opt to make assignments instead of (or in addition to!) letting children volunteer. This way a shy student gets a job too, and you can pick something that is in their wheelhouse.
“Are they responsible? See if they will run teacher errands outside of the class,” Lacherza-Drew says. “This pulls on their strength but also encourages socialization.”
Don’t Force It
If they can’t stand up in front of the class or read aloud, don’t make them. Just as all kids learn differently, all kids interact differently!
Be Mindful of How Their Shyness Affects Their Learning
In general, shyness itself will not affect a student’s learning, Grunst says, but “if a student’s shyness is causing them to be worried or preoccupied for the majority of the day, or if it is causing school-refusal related issues, then it is a sign that a student’s shyness is impeding on their education.”
I come from a family of teachers, I have many friends that are teachers, and I work in the fields of education and psychology. Playful ribbing of the struggles and strife that educators have to put up with has always been a popular topic in my life. I have noticed trends in the stories of students that hate their teachers (or dislike them enough to exchange rude remarks in the hallway; ‘hate’ is a powerful word, albeit one used commonly by discontent students). When I asked a group of friends and acquaintances – including tutors, teachers, students, and professionals fresh out of 15+ years of education – why they think students hate teachers, I got responses like these:
-Egocentrism. The student feels the teacher’s lecturing style is self-centered, unable to see that the teacher is just following protocol.
–“They give me bad grades and get mad at me for getting bad grades.” This response, given by a middle school student, may be indicative of a failure to understand the relationship between effort and grades; however, it could also indicate that the teacher is failing to communicate how grades could be improved.
-“They teach something really boring” / “The class is interesting but they teach in a really boring way.” This was a common response among elementary students, and one which will be discussed in greater depth below.
–Instructor incompetence. In some cases, students may not believe that the teacher is smart, or a good authority on the subject, or the teacher may not take the class seriously or be habitually unprepared.
–Lack of engagement from instructor. Students can sense when a teacher is just in it for the money, and they resent it; they need someone excited about learning to engage them.
–Favoritism. Whether correctly or not, students perceive that some teachers have favorites who receive preferential treatment, making the class unfair.
Interestingly enough, my findings line up rather well with a similar, anecdotal post on a popular teaching blog. It seems that complaints about teachers fall along a few common tracks.
Between educators’ forums and discussions with my colleagues, I’ve found that teachers have two general reactions to unruly students: they either claim that the student is a no-good deviant who will never change and any consequent complaints are unjust and unwarranted, or they deeply desire to do something to change the flow of the classroom and lament that they have not yet found something successful. Which set of teachers is correct? Are there students who are inherently problematic in their own right, as opposed to those who are simply reacting to the environment around them using their (as-yet under-developed) mental coping mechanisms?
These questions must remain unanswered, as there is little to no scholarly research in this area. There was a study that found that attitudes towards teachers tend to be similar to the student’s attitudes toward other authority figures, such as parents and police officers. However, this only tells us that students that are respectful towards their parents are the students that are respectful toward their teachers. We cannot conclude that one causes the other, and we certainly cannot know how this affects student engagement and interest in school.
What we can address, however, is the common complaint that particular teachers – or the subjects they teach – are boring.
Breaking Out of the Mold: Overcoming a “Boring” Teacher
Students and teachers should remember that the classroom dynamic need not be one-directional. Teachers will probably do most of the talking, but they don’t need to do all of the talking (and in fact, most of them would prefer not to). A popular education blogger asked his readers to poll their students, and found that students particularly dislike taking notes off of a power point or lecture and reading, because they feel like they must simply memorize facts without any context. Unfortunately, not all teachers realize that this very common teaching method is falling on deaf ears. Thus, it is necessary for the students to implore change.
The best way for students to have an impact on their learning experience is to ask questions. Even the most boring subject material can be made interesting by a student asking directed questions. For instance, history is probably a boring subject for many students. To a passive learner, a lecture in history class sounds like an endless list of dates and names, with no importance to modern times. But people have always had the same problems and personalities throughout history. Remembering this could help students find the intrigue in ancient times. A student who enjoys war-based video games could ask their history teacher about the weapons, most skilled fighters, and interesting stories from the time period being studied. A student who enjoys blockbuster movies such as Interstellar could easily start a fun conversation in physics class by asking the teacher how gravity slingshots work, and how they can allow for ridiculously fast travel.
Student complaints about teachers and classes are common, and often follow the same track: teachers are either boring, or teaching interesting subject matter in a boring way. The greatest culprit is any form of note-taking that is not engaging for the students, including lectures, power-points, and reading straight from the text book. Teachers can change this by opening up more engaging classroom activities. And when teachers are not engaging, students can ask questions and make requests to talk about the subject material in a more interesting way. Tension between teachers and students can cause problems in the classroom, but if its common underlying causes are addressed, these problems can be mitigated.
Matthew Rottmann is a tutor for General Academic and a student of Psychology and Business. He has a passion using Psychology to make school and work more productive and enjoyable for people, and is working towards a career in business consulting.
Every teacher, every year, has at least one student who utters those heartbreaking words: “I just don’t like school.” These words are uttered by the student who says they “just want to be left alone,” and who is resigned to get through their education with as little effort and bother as possible. But what are they really saying to you? Here, we’ll offer practical advice for reading between the lines of student apathy to inspire the uninspired learners.
Translating “I Don’t Like School”
When you hear “I don’t like school,” it’s easy for teachers to feel hurt or defensive. Educators put in a lot of work to make lessons engaging and challenging, so it’s natural to see a student’s complaints as an assault on your work and efforts. However, it’s important to not simply write off these words as the immature complaints of a disenchanted kid. In fact, these words are a cry for help. They’re a loud and clear declaration that the school system is not serving the student the way it should. Somewhere along the line, the system failed this student. It may be perpetually under-serving them.
Many kids — and even ourselves as learners — can accept and succeed within the education system’s compliance-based and data-based structure, and get through it without resistance. Others cannot and over time they can come to see school as a chore, as confining, confusing, and pointless. “At some level of their consciousness, everyone who has ever been to school knows that it is a prison. But people rationalize it by saying (not usually in these words) that children need this particular kind of prison and may even like it if the prison is run well,” says Peter Gray, psychologist and author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life. Anyone who knows anything about children and who allows himself or herself to think honestly should be able to see through this rationalization. Children, like all human beings, crave freedom. They hate to have their freedom restricted.” The confines of school can truly stifle learning for many students who year after year enter classrooms to be unserved or even rejected. “I hate school” really means “school hasn’t worked for me” and, as teachers, we can do a lot to reshape this narrative.
Hear the Student, Value the Learner
One important thing to remember is that the student who hates school doesn’t necessarily hate learning or you. Children and humans generally want to learn, but may struggle or feel out of place or rejected in the school setting. “One of the most important things for educators — both seasoned veterans and those who are new to the job — to understand is that students don’t hate education. Learning and discovering new things is a natural part of the human experience and, indeed, it’s something that appeals to all of us on a base level,” according to Wabisabi Learning. “Many of them don’t even hate school as an idea — what they’re responding negatively to is the rigid structure that school makes them adhere to… They don’t dislike what they’re learning. They dislike how they’re being made to learn it.” The experiences students have in school shape their attitude, buy-in, and relationships with adults. Hear your students and value them as learners. If they’re not successful in school or display apathy for it, consider the experiences they’ve had within the system and their impact. What messages have they received? How might they have internalized these messages? How might they feel walking into school each day?
If the learner isn’t going to the learning, we must bring the learning to the learner. We’ve all heard it: Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like or respect. Relationships are the social-emotional bridge between students and learning. “The research is clear: humans are literally “hard-wired” with the desire and need to connect,” according to Tara Brown, author of Different Cultures—Common Ground: 85 Proven Strategies to Connect in the Classroom and the AMLE, The Association for Middle Level Education. “We are social beings who thrive on healthy relationships. And yet, the importance of positive relationships in our schools is often overlooked.”
Relationship-building with students — especially the ornery ones — is not fluff, it’s mandatory. Apathetic students are distrustful of the institution of education and therefore need you to work extra hard to forge a connection of trust. And through that trust, you can rebuild their relationship with learning. “While many teachers may not think they have the time to spend building relationships, I suggest that we don’t have the time not to. Relationships and instruction are not an either-or proposition but are rather an incredible combination. Research tells us this combination will increase engagement, motivation, test scores, and grade point averages while decreasing absenteeism, dropout rates, and discipline issues.”
Give Them a Few Wins
Nothing inspires success like success. When a previously underperforming student sees some good grades, kind comments, or positive feedback, this may light a fire that can start to undo years of disillusionment. Give your struggling student something accessible and doable and celebrate their success. Gradually increase the challenge level and watch them. Provide supports where necessary and leverage your relationship to cheer them on.
Activate That Prior Knowledge
Students are not empty vessels. Every student knows stuff and we can activate that knowledge to make students feel empowered, smart, and curious to know more. Whatever the new subject matter, find a way to access what students already know about the topic. Even your most apathetic student has a lot you can expand on. Maybe it’s an interest (which you can surface by getting to know them), a skill they have, or simply some background knowledge. Surface it, celebrate it, and expand on it.
Undoing Apathy Doesn’t Happen Overnight
As an educator, just know that undoing the damage can take a while. Students won’t magically come alive and become eager to learn overnight. It takes time and consistent effort, which can be hard with a full classroom. Just remember that you have the power to move the needle with students whose education experience was lacking — and that’s pretty profound.
Below is a letter by Mrs. Kamini Lakhani, who founded Support for Autistic Individuals (SAI Connections) in 2004 in Mumbai, India. Kamini is the mother of a young adult with autism and has been providing services in the field of autism for more than 20 years. The post originally appeared on the SAI website here.
We met at a party. She was young and vivacious. We hit it off immediately as we both were from the education field.
She was a 4th grade teacher. As soon as she heard that I worked with people with autism, a barrage of questions and comments followed. You see, she was teaching a child with autism in one of her classes.
“It’s impossible to handle him.”
“He’s totally disruptive and creates a ruckus in my class.”
“What an attention seeker!”
“Do you think he should be attending regular school?”
“He can’t sit still, even for a moment.”
“I don’t think he’s capable of learning.”
“His mother is so demanding and she overestimates her child’s abilities.”
I didn’t have to say much to keep this conversation going. The occasional head nods and several “hmms” sufficed. It felt different hearing the educator’s point of view… the viewpoint of someone teaching children with autism. I’m more accustomed to hearing stories from parents about how unfairly teachers treat their children at mainstream school. It felt like the proverbial elephant. One person described the trunk, whereas the other described the torso. It didn’t feel like they were describing the same magnificent animal. Today, I’d like to address things from the view point of mainstream teachers via an Open letter.
First, I’d like to commend you for taking up this profession. You had a choice of other more lucrative careers – but you chose to take up this noble profession. I’m certain that your intent was to make a difference in the lives of children. But here is this one student, who you can’t handle, who makes you uncomfortable, and creates a storm in your classroom. Secretly, you wish he wasn’t in your class.
You probably feel guilty about thinking these thoughts – but you just can’t deal with his odd and disruptive behaviors. I know how you feel. Mohit, my son is now 27. For 10 years of his life he attended regular schools. I had the opportunity to interact with and explain autism to several wonderful teachers. I’d like you to shift gears for a little while.
Let’s move from how you feel to how this child feels. What if you came to know that this kid is not disrupting your class deliberately. He has a differently wired brain. Not abnormal or dysfunctional – just different. Due to the way his brain is wired, he is hyperactive and appears out of control. He seems anxious. He is unable to connect with the other children. In fact, it may appear like he’s fighting with them often! All of these behaviors are his way of crying out for help. YOUR help.
Even if this child is vocal, I can assure you that he is not able to emotionally share with you and let you know what’s going on. Can you imagine how he feels? No friends, no support and no one to understand him. Take a minute to digest what I just said. Visualize this child in your classroom. Now that you look at him differently, wouldn’t you like to help him? I’m glad to see you nod.
Here are five things you can do immediately to teach children with autism better.
- Connect with the mother. A mother is your your biggest ally. Have a heart-to-heart chat with the child’s mother. Share your difficulties. Let her know that you want to help. Ask for reports, assessments that the child may have undergone. Study these. These will be huge eye openers in enhancing your understanding of the child’s condition.
- Make a list of the child’s strengths. Every child… I repeat… EVERY child has strengths. You just have to observe them closely. The child may be extremely loving and caring, or have some skill that your other students don’t. List these out.
- Understand how he learns, This child will not learn like your other students. Many students with autism learn visually. Hence, what will help is a visual schedule. Or break things up to help him understand and stay calm. By the way, there are many ways in which a child can learn.
- Ask for additional help. You have at least 20 other children looking for your guidance. Yes, it’s not possible to pay attention to one child, while the others are in limbo. A shadow teacher or an Aide is extremely useful in this case. She can sit with the students and guides this child when he gets inattentive, so that your class can move smoothly.
- Have a behavior plan in place Individuals on the spectrum get overwhelmed quickly because of something called sensory overload. It’s important to pick up the early signs and have a designated area where the student can go with the shadow teacher if he has a meltdown or gets anxious. He can rejoin the class when he’s ready. It makes the child feel assured and safe, and keeps your class functioning smoothly as well. A behavioral consultant can work out a customized plan, which can be followed at school.
This can be cumbersome and stretch you. I understand. But can I take you back to why you decided to become a teacher?
Here is what a couple of my mainstream teacher friends said:
“I wanted to be a teacher to create value for the next generation of our future… I wanted to make a positive difference.”
“I wanted to impart my knowledge and learn from them as well. I always want to remain young at heart by surrounding myself with kids. And above all – Love for kids… Love their innocence… Beautiful souls.”
You, my dear friend, are a sculptor. You have taken this opportunity to impact a child’s life. Yes, this same child whom you find impossible and disruptive. By teaching children with autism, you will expand your own heart. You will create happiness for his family too. And one more thing. Your influence doesn’t just stop with this family. It creates a ripple effect. Imagine all the little ones under your care. Imagine them looking up at you with innocent, studying eyes, to see how you behave with them different. They’re watching you carefully. Remember that they will learn what you do, and not what you say. They will talk to their parents about the amazing ways in which you handled and accommodated ‘that different child’. I hope you will take this challenge of enhancing your own life, and the lives of the next generation.
Most parents are fantastic, but a few always make teachers dream of next summer before the year even begins.
My favorite back-to-school ritual as a first-grade teacher is to tenderly place name tags on each of my new student's desks. I think about each child, how I will impact their life, and how they will impact mine over the coming year. It is the time of year where I am almost giddy with anticipation. While I am thrilled to meet my new students, I am equally nervous about meeting their parents. I am not alone in this sentiment. Teachers I know consistently list students as the best part of teaching and their parents as the worst part of teaching.
Don't get me wrong. The vast majority of the parents in my class are fantastic, but a few archetype parents always show up on my roster every year and secretly make me dream of summer before the year even begins. Allow me to introduce the top 10 parent types that every teacher secretly hates:
- RELATED: 5 Smart Ways to Handle Teacher Troubles
1. The Special Snowflake Parent
Yes, your child is special, but so is every other student in my class. No, your child is not special enough that they don't have to do their homework, be on time or follow classroom procedures. I get it. I am a parent, too. My kids are my world, but parents have to be grounded enough to accept that the rules apply to all children, even theirs. These are the same parents who are convinced that their little precious can do no wrong—ever.
2. The Magic Bullet Parent
All parents want their children to do better in school, but this parent wants higher grades and improved reading levels without needing to do any extra work. While I am explaining the need for reading together at night, he is still looking for the quick fix or any other solution where he doesn't have to be involved.
- RELATED: Parenting Styles: What's Your Parenting Style?
3. The Overhead Parent
It's a normal, after-school day, but instead of grading papers, I have been summoned to the principal's office. I am racking my brain to think of why—I know I turned in my three-week reports—and then it hits me. I'm a victim of the Overhead Parent. This parent has a problem with something that has happened in my classroom, but she skips the step of talking to me and goes straight to my boss. Not only am I sheepish at being sent to the principal's office, but I am frustrated that a conversation between the two of us wasn't the first course of action.
4. The Hovering Parent
Is this parent a clone or has she just perfected the art of teleporting? She is everywhere, hanging at the back of the classroom long after the other parents have gone about their day. These parents never seem to be able to give their kids the space to tie their own shoes, manage their materials or make a few mistakes.
- RELATED: Parenting Styles Explained
5. The Ghost Parent
This parent's name is on the roster, but does he really exist? This parent has never actually been seen, and it makes me a little nervous because I know connected parents make successful students. Again, I understand what it is like to be a working parent, but I wish he would take an opportunity to touch base by phone or at parent's night.
6. The No-Boundaries Parent
If I get a text message at 11 p.m., I don't even have to check who it is. I know it's the No-Boundaries Parent "just checking" on something for the next day. Every time I check my email, I have a message—or six—from this parent. These aren't short notes; they are more like epics. If I am rushing off to the bathroom during my five-minute break or scarfing down my lunch during my 30-minute lunch time, I can count on this parent to find me to talk. It's not just the volume of their contact; it's the timing.
- RELATED: What Is Helicopter Parenting?
7. The Competing Custody Parents
This pair of parents is a dynamic duo of disaster, where they share custody but fight over everything else. They seem to be in a race to see how they can make themselves look the best while making the other look the worst. They're never on the same page, and it's obvious that communication about what is happening at school is falling flat. In this race, the child is always the loser.
8. The Boss Parent
This parent brings a business sense to the classroom, and he wants to make sure I know that my place in the hierarchy is somewhere below him. He has no problem letting me know that he is in charge and I am punching my card on his company clock. This parent sees me not as a partner, but as an employee. It's just a matter of time before he says "I pay taxes, so I am your boss."
- RELATED: Lighthouse Parenting: 5 Ways to Strike the Right Balance
9. The Teacher-Hater Parent
I'm not sure what happened in the past to make this parent hate teachers, but the hatred is real. This parent believes that this is a fall-back job or that I only took it because I get the summers off. Or worse, she thinks that I have it in for her student and that I spend time creating ways to make them suffer. Whatever the reason, it's clear that the parent is convinced it is my fault and the fault of all the others like me.
10. The All Drama Parent
The MO of this parent is to take a minor school incident, blow it out of proportion, and repeat as often as necessary until she gets her way. For variety, sometimes there are tears and sometimes there is yelling, but there is always drama. It's not over until the school board is involved and every single parent on the playground has heard about the injustice.
In today’s digital world, written communication is more common, more transparent, and more permanent than every before. It’s critical that every student is able to express themselves clearly in writing, yet sadly, many cannot.
This is reflected in the statistics. The National Association of Educational Progress estimates that only 27% of 8th and 12th grade students can write at a proficient level. Among high school students who took the ACT in 2016, roughly 40% could not write at a college level.
One reason why students struggle with writing is that it can often be challenging to foster a love of writing or deeply engage students in the writing and revision process. Why?
Students do not see the point or the relevance of the topic they are writing about.
Students feel pressure to write perfectly from the start of their writing process, which slows them down.
Feedback is important for student learning, and when students receive bad feedback, slow feedback, or no feedback at all, this is deeply demotivating.
How to Help Students Overcome the Intimidation of Writing
Solving this issue can be challenging. That said, there are several strategies that teachers of all content areas can leverage to reduce a student’s dislike of writing.
PRIMING STUDENTS FOR WRITING
It is common for teachers to point out specific concepts or subjects in a given class and state, “This might be on a test someday. Hint, hint!” You’ll see your students’ ears perk up. The same practice could also be used for essays.
For example, let’s say you plan to assign an essay on a book being read in your English class. As your students are working through the novel, you can point out topics and events in the book that could be discussed in a future essay during class readings and discussions.
This can help eliminate student anxiety during the Monday surprise when the essay is assigned, and students can start their essays with a handful of ideas.
Always Have a Topic in Mind
For many students, receiving a writing assignment where they can write about any topic of their choice can be a generally positive experience. Many students view this as an opportunity to write about something in their lives, or the chance to get creative and make up a story.
However, not all students react favorably to choosing their own topic. Some students immediately go into a panic attack of indecision. Others immediately develop writer’s block.
By having a backup plan for those students, teachers can help reduce the anxiety that comes with these types of writing assignments. Some examples of topics that teachers can suggest include:
Subjects that have been discussed in class
Events that have happened at the school
Important news stories, social trends or current events
Make Writing Fun
No matter what, some students will think of writing the same way they think of root canals. But if teachers can have writing clubs and fun names for daily writing time, and provide more in depth feedback on writing, students will have an easier time replacing dread with acceptance.
Engagement and feedback are how people improve at nearly everything. Students, whether they are first graders or doctoral students, need to be able to understand not only what they did wrong and how to fix it, but what they did right and how to leverage their writing strengths. Outsourcing grading for writing assignments can be highly beneficial in such instances.
Helping Students Accept Writing Assignments
Every teacher can agree that strong writing skills are crucial to a student’s long term success, both academically and professionally. There are several tactics teachers and students can employ to make writing more acceptable and fun.
Get in touch with The Graide Network to discover how we can help enhance your student’s writing skills.
One of the scariest issues for teachers is dealing with confrontational students in the classroom. While confrontations do not occur every day in every classroom, most if not all secondary school teachers will have to deal with a student who is acting belligerent and speaking in out in their classroom.
Do Not Lose Your Temper
This can be harder than it sounds. However, it is imperative that you remain calm. You have a classroom full of students watching you. If you lose your temper and start shouting at a confrontational student, you have given up your position of authority and lowered yourself to the student's level. Instead, take a deep breath and remember that you are the authority figure in the situation.
Do Not Raise Your Voice
This goes hand in hand with not losing your temper. Raising your voice will simply escalate the situation. Instead, a better tack is to talk quieter as the student gets louder. This will help you keep control and appear less confrontational to the student, thereby helping to calm the situation.
Do Not Get Other Students Involved
It is counterproductive to get other students involved in the confrontation. For example, if the student is making an accusation about something you did or did not say, do not turn to the rest of the class to ask them what you said right at that moment. The confrontational student might feel backed into a corner and lash out even further. A better response would be that you will be happy to speak with them about the situation once they calm down.
Privately Speak to the Student
You might consider calling a hall conference with the student. Ask them to step outside to speak with you. By removing the audience, you can talk with the student about their issues and try to come to some sort of resolution before the situation gets out of hand. Make sure that during this time, you recognize that you understand they are upset and then talk with them calmly to determine the best resolution to the problem.
Use active listening techniques as you talk with the student. If you are able to get the student to calm down and return to class, then make sure that you integrate the student back into the classroom environment. Other students will be watching how you deal with the situation and how you treat the returning student.
Call the Office For Help or an Office Escort
While it is always best to try and diffuse the situation yourself, you should call the office and request additional adult assistance if things are escalating out of hand. If a student is cussing uncontrollably at you and/or other students, throwing things, hitting others, or threatening violence, you need to get assistance from the office.
Use Referrals If Necessary
An office referral is one tool in your behavior management plan. This should be used as a last resort for students who can not be managed within the classroom environment. If you write referrals all the time, you will find that they lose their value both for your students and also for the administration as well. In other words, you want your referrals to mean something and to be acted on as necessary by the administrator in charge of the case.
Contact the Student's Parents
Try to get the parent involved as soon as possible. Let them know what happened in class and what you would like them to do to help with the situation. Realize, however, that some parents will not be as receptive as others in your efforts. Nonetheless, parental involvement can make a huge difference in many cases.
Create a Behavior Management Plan
If you have a student who is often confrontational, you need to call together a parent-teacher conference to deal with the situation. Include administration and guidance if you feel it is necessary. Together, you can create a plan for dealing with the student and possibly help them with any possible anger management issues.
Talk With the Student at a Later Time
A day or two after the situation has been resolved, pull the student involved aside and discuss the situation with them calmly. Use this to try and determine what the trigger was that caused the problem in the first place. This is also a great time to try and give the student ideas of other ways to deal with the situation that they might be able to use in the future. For example, you might have them ask to speak with you quietly instead of shouting in the middle of class.
Treat Each Student as an Individual
Realize that what works with one student might not work with another. For example, you might find that one student responds particularly well to humor while another might get angry when you try to make light of the situation.
Do Not Goad a Student
While this might seem obvious, it is a sad fact that some teachers enjoy goading their students. Do not be one of those teachers. Spend your time focusing on what's best for each student and move beyond any petty feelings you might have about past classroom confrontations and situations. While you might privately dislike a student, you should never allow this to show in any way.