14 December 2015 / by Rob Wylie
Dealing with those difficult students
Despite the majority of students being motivated and professional, there is always a possibility you may come across one or two “difficult” students who come to class with a negative attitude. I’m sure that as teachers we can all relate to this and have some form of experience when it comes to having to work with a person who arrives to class with the wrong attitude. I’m positive that each of you can think of at least one occasion when you have thought that a student was being difficult for whatever reason, and sometimes they could even be doing it on purpose!
One of the most typical situations could be difficult students who arrive to class with an “I know more than you attitude”. They tend to say things like “That’s not how I was taught” or “I’ve always done it this way” and try their hardest to undermine everything that you say and do. A good way to diffuse this student is to explain to the group as a whole that as with a lot of things there are different ways to do different tasks and arrive to the same conclusion and result. These difficult students may try to disrupt the class but explaining that there could in fact be better ways to complete a task may help motivate the entire group. When faced with a student like this I’ve always found it important to remember that at the end of the day we are both adults and professionals. Is it actually worth the hassle to argue with this student for a long period? I would say that not.
Other difficult students may be the “I have a thousand questions” type. It’s vital that we, as the teacher, don’t allow certain students take over the lesson plan. Don’t fall into the trap of wasting time answering questions that will be covered later or which are simply irrelevant to what is being studied at that specific time. Sticking to the lesson plan will prevent jumping from one topic to the next in an illogical order and won’t allow the class to become mixed up. Other students of the group may also start to become annoyed and frustrated with the difficult students, so remember that you must always keep the class flowing and avoid finding yourself in a stop-start class. It is not unheard of for other classmates to actually jump in and tell the “I have a million questions” student to stop acting inappropriately and remind them that in actual fact the class is not just for them, but for the group as a whole.
You are in charge; it is your class, so being completely confident is the key. Above all, be confident in the students, confident in your preparation and have the confidence in yourself most importantly! Like with everything, with experience and time you learn how to deal with these difficult students so that you are able to diffuse the situation in the best and simplest way possible.