"You cannot transcend what you do not know. To go beyond yourself, you must know yourself." -Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
Handling Disruptive Students - Meryl Divya Joseph
When individual students continue to act out in spite of preventive measures, it becomes necessary to use interventions to reshape behavior. The following suggested interventions are good first steps in working with disruptive students:
Social skills training - Many children who misbehave simply have never been taught how to behave. They have problems developing friendships and meeting adult expectations. Teaching social skills helps them develop good relationships with other children and adults. Social skills training should involve the following three steps:
1. Model or show the students how to perform the skill or good behavior that you expect.
2. Practice: allow the students to practice using the skill through role-playing situations.
3. Reinforce acceptable performance by letting students know how well they are performing the skill or behavior in question.
Enhancing positive behavior - Catching students doing good things can be much more productive for overall classroom discipline than simply apprehending rule offenders.
When students act appropriately, we want to increase that behavior. Rewards from adults (both tangible and intangible) can be meaningful in these situations and have a powerful effect on behavior.
Be careful however: typically the older a student is, public praise for behavior from teachers can lead to negative peer attention. Keep some compliments and praise confidential - through a note on an assignment or a quick individual interaction before or after class.‹
The following rules for behavior enhancement have proven to be effective:
Specifically define the behavior being rewarded.
Determine and give reinforcements individually if necessary - especially for older students (middle school and high school).
There are no reinforcer's that are rewards for everyone - i.e. if you throw out praise to everyone, it won't be meaningful for individual behavior modification.
Use tangible rewards (stickers, stars, etc.) when appropriate, but accompany with intangible rewards such as praise.
Always work to diminish dependency on tangible rewards.
Reducing negative behavior - The opposite side of the behavior enhancement coin is behavior reduction. It is not always possible to reduce negative behavior by rewarding acceptable behavior. Once antisocial behavior patterns are set, they may be difficult to change. In these instances, it may be necessary to combine behavior enhancement with behavior reduction techniques.
Develop a hierarchy of consequences
While the "three strikes, you're out” policy has its problems, the notion of a hierarchy of consequences can be effective. A typical hierarchy of consequences in successful classrooms includes:
Consequence 1 - signaled by a direct "look” from the adult in charge, or by a step that brings the adult nearer to the student.
Consequence 2 - consequence might be a verbal warning or reminder that the behavior is unacceptable.
Consequence 3 - in-class "time-out” from immediate activity for a specified length of time or a change of student's location in classroom for closer observation or to remove from distractions.
Consequence 4 - Conference with the student to discover cause and reinforce acceptable behavior.
Consequence 5 - Notification of administrator.
Consequence 6 - Contacting the parent or guardian.
Consequence 7 - Extended time-out or suspension
Direct punishments such as after-school detention, withdrawal of classroom privileges, or direct verbal admonishment should be used only rarely - and only in connection with efforts to teach and enhance more desirable social skills.
Behavior management techniques to avoid
The following behavior management techniques usually have the opposite of the intended effect. They can alienate students, make communications more difficult, or escalate problem behavior:
Forcing students to do something that is impossible for them to do at that time.
Ridiculing or making fun of the student.
Forcing a student to admit having lied, especially in public.
Demanding a confession from a student.
Asking students why they act out (when you know they do not understand their own behaviors).
Making disapproving personal comments about students or their families.
Comparing one student's anti-social behavior with another student's behavior.
Aggressively confronting a student in public or private.
Yelling at a student.
Engaging in verbal battles with a student.
Making unrealistic threats.
Always stand at eye level with the person you are confronting. Never have them standing over you, looking down.
Respect the toxic person and always expect respect in return. Settle for nothing less.
Remain calm. A calm cool response to an angry verbal barrage can neutralize a toxic experience.
Don't argue or interrupt, just listen.
Don't accuse or judge, just state how you feel about the situation.
If the toxic person tries to verbally bully you, just say, " I'm sorry but I don't allow people to treat me this way. Perhaps we can continue this when you have calmed down." Then slowly and calmly walk away.
When someone is being toxic to you here is a powerful response and one that is easy to use because you don't have to say a word. In the midst of a toxic attack just ........ PAUSE....LOOK AT THE PERSON, WITHOUT EMOTION......TURN AND WALK AWAY. It works!
While anger is sometimes a valid response it has to be used as a last resort. Anger doesn't usually accomplish anything with a difficult parent and can actually cause further alienation.
Put your qualifications on display. Whether people like to admit it or not they are impressed by paper qualifications. When you enter a doctor's office you see behind his/her desk all the degrees, diplomas and additional courses taken in various medical fields, etc. When you see this you begin having more confidence in the expertise of the doctor. I think teachers should do the same. Behind your desk have copies of your degrees, teacher's certificates, professional courses taken etc. mounted on the wall for all to see.
When Interviewing a difficult parent never sit behind your desk. Move your chair out from behind the desk and place it close to and in front of the parent. This sends a strong assertive message to the one being interviewed. It says, "I am comfortable and confident in this situation." That's just the message your want to send.
Never underestimate the power of a stern, disapproving look. It certainly saves you words and allows you to assert yourself with minimum risk. If someone is doing or saying something that puts you down or tries to overpower you, give them a look of disapproval which says loudly and clearly, "BACK OFF."
Selective silence is one of the most effective ways of dealing with difficult people. It is easy to use, and very low threat. When people are being difficult, they are often seeking attention and power. When you respond verbally to their toxic attack you are giving them attention and power they desire. When you use selective silence you deny them both attention and power. You are basically ignoring them and no one likes to be ignored.
When you are being harassed by a fellow staff member or fellow teacher with your board, in the interest of professional ethics, you must have the courage to confront. You can do this verbally face to face, or in writing. Stay calm and professional. You can say something like this. " It has come to my attention that you have some concern about my teaching. Is this true?" Listen calmly and carefully to their response. Follow up with, " Perhaps you could put your concerns in writing. I will study them and get back to you with my written response." Great harm is done to a teacher's reputation and well-being by a fellow teacher acting unprofessionally. Challenge them.
Taken from the article 14 Steps to Teacher Assertiveness
How to cope with difficult parents, principals and staff members
by Mike Moore
A dispute with a coworker
How to Avoid Workplace Conflict
* Refrain from discussing highly charged and divisive topics such as religion, politics or ethnicity.
* Keep your personal and professional lives separate. Do not share details about your personal problems or social life with your co-workers or encourage them to share such details with you.
* Don't start or carry on an office romance. Most such relationships don't end up working out, and they often result in ill will -- or even sexual harassment lawsuits!
*Be nice. As you work your way up the ladder, be kind and respectful to those you pass along the way.
*Avoid engaging in office gossip or making derogatory comments about others. By staying above the fray you'll develop a reputation as being trustworthy and having good character.
*Establish and respect boundaries. Remember you are dealing with other human beings who lead hectic, complicated lives. Set healthy boundaries for your workload, time commitments and personal privacy.
How to Resolve It
* Choose your battles. How important is the dispute really? Does it truly affect you, and is it a chronic problem? If it's a one-time incident or mild transgression, let it pass.
* Stay calm. Never approach your co-worker when you're steaming mad. Wait until you've both calmed down so your discussion will be productive.
* Have a game plan. Analyze the situation so that you can clearly define the problem. Ask yourself: "What do I really care about? What do I need to have happen? How would I like things to be?" Then, generate some ideas and options for achieving the desired result so that you are ready to suggest solutions and alternatives.
* Meet on neutral ground. Meeting over a cup of coffee or taking a walk around the block together can help diffuse tension and alleviate feelings of "turf."
*Focus on the problem, not the person. Never attack or put the other person on the defensive. Focus on actions and consequences.
* Use neutral language. Avoid judgmental remarks or sweeping generalizations, such as, "You always turn your reports in late." Use calm, neutral language to describe what is bothering you, for example: "I get very frustrated when I can't access your reports because it causes us to miss our deadlines." Be respectful and sincere, never sarcastic.
*Listen actively. Never interrupt the other party. Really listen and try to understand what the other person is saying. Let them know you understand by restating or reframing the other person's statements or position, so they know you have indeed heard them.
A disagreement with your principal or other supervisor
Here are some strategies on handling a difficult boss situation.
1. Always have a plan B. Most people are scared about having a discussion with their boss concerning their abusive behavior because they fear reprimand or losing their job as a result of it. Their fear is usually justified if the supervisor is a control-freak and feels that their subordinate is threatening their control. Before you deal with any type of conflict, you always need to have a plan B in case things don’t work out. A plan B is the best alternative that you can come up without having to negotiate anything with your boss. In this type of scenario, your best plan B would probably take the form of having an actual job offer in hand with another employer before you have your talk. By not having a back-up plan, you have given your abusive boss even more leverage over you because they know you have no where else to go. Having a plan B, however, empowers you with the ability to walk-away at any time should the negotiation not go right. Increase your power and have a plan B before you deal with the conflict.
2. Never react to verbal abuse or harsh criticism with emotion. This will always get you into more trouble than you started with because it will become a war between egos and chances are good that your boss has a bigger ego than you have—hence why he is difficult in the first place. When a personal attack is made on you, they are trying to bait you into reacting emotionally because once you react, you become an easy target for additional attacks. The key then is not to react, but to acknowledge and move on. By doing this, you effectively strip all of the power behind their verbal attacks away from your abusive boss, without creating conflict. If your boss happens to be an intimidator or a control freak, then the best way of dealing with their behavior is to remain calm and acknowledge their power by saying, "You're right, I'm sorry." By saying this, you take away any chance of them lashing back at you because you have sidestepped their verbal attack rather than meeting it head on.
3. Discuss rather than confront. When your boss criticizes you, don’t react out of emotion and become confrontational with them about it because that just breeds more conflict. Instead, use their criticism as a topic for discussion on interests, goals, and problem-solving and ask them for their advice. If they criticize your work, then that means that they have their own idea on how that work should be done, so ask them for their advice on how your work can be improved.
4. Manage the manager. A source of conflict usually occurs when a group of employees gets a new manager who demands that things run differently. These changes are usually reactionary in nature because the employees go about their regular duties until the manager comes by and criticizes the way it is being done. Instead of waiting for their criticism, take a proactive approach and be absolutely clear from the very beginning on how your boss wants things to be done so that there is no miscommunication later on. There are many ways of completing a task and having a discussion about them at the very beginning will allow you to see things from their perspective as well as sharing your own with them. Get to know their likes and dislikes inside and out so that you can avoid future criticisms.
5. Know that you can do little to change them. Being a difficult person is part of their personality and therefore it is a very difficult, if not impossible thing to change in a supervisor, so don’t think that you can change how they act. Instead, change the way that you view their behavior. Don’t label them as being a jerk--just merely label them as your boss. By avoiding derogatory labeling, you avoid making it easy on yourself to be angry with your boss.
6. Keep your professional face on. Know the difference between not liking your boss and not being professional. You don’t have to make your boss your friend or even like your boss as a person, but you do have to remain professional and get the job done and carry out their instructions dutifully as a subordinate, just as you would expect them to be professional as do their duties as a supervisor.
7. Evaluate your own performance. Before you go attacking your boss, examine your own performance and ask yourself if you are doing everything right. Get opinions from other coworkers about your performance and see if there is any warrant to the criticisms of your supervisor before you criticize their opinions.
8. Gather additional support. If others share in your concern, then you have the power of numbers behind you to give you additional persuasion power over your boss. It is often easy for a supervisor to ignore or attack one employee, but it becomes more difficult to attack all of his employees. He might be able to fire one of you, but he will look like an idiot (and probably get fired himself) if he tries to fire all of you. An interdepartment union is a good way of mustering power against an abusive employer.
9. Don’t go to up the chain of command unless it’s a last resort. Going straight up the chain of command is not an effective way of dealing with a difficult supervisor because it only increases conflict in the workplace. Your immediate supervisor will consider this a very serious backstabbing maneuver and might seek some sort of retribution in the future against you and your career. Also, other people in your workplace might brand you as a whistleblower because of your actions. Try to discuss issues with your supervisor first and only go up the chain of command as a last resort.
10. Encourage good behavior with praise. It is easy to criticize your superiors, but criticisms often lead towards resentment and hostile feelings. Everyone likes a pat on the back for good behavior, so you should strive to watch for good behaviors from your supervisor and compliment them on that. Proactive praising is much more effective than reactive criticisms.
11. Document everything. If you choose to stay with a toxic employer, then document everything. This will become your main ammunition should a complaint ever be filed down the road. Document interactions with them as well as your own activities so that you can remind them of your own achievements at performance review time.
12. Leave work at work. Get into the habit of leaving work at home and not bringing it into your personal life because that will only add to your level of stress. Keep your professional life separate from your personal life as best as you can. This also includes having friends who you don’t work with so that you can detach yourself from your work life rather than bringing it home with you.
Do not have revealing or see-through attire. Do not wear ripped clothes or dress like a teen-ager.
Make sure your clothing is clean, pressed and presentable.
Accessories should not be distracting.
You do not have to dress like a movie-star (especially on our salaries) but your clothing should reflect your self-respect and authority.
On the job stress
Take time out of your day to relax or meditate briefly.
Use your lunch time to actually eat your lunch instead of grading papers.
Limit negative gossip but talk to colleagues and principal about how to dissipate stress at work.
Keep in mind you do not have to be a hero all the time!