Many students like to argue. It’s a fact of life. And arguing is normal, isn’t it? Or is it? This article explores some ways to avoid arguing with students.
Great teachers don’t have arguers
Have you ever noticed how you can walk into a classroom and hear the teacher talking, and the students being quiet? They are given directions, and nobody challenges the assignment. What is it that makes that happen? Below are a few things that set great teachers apart and help them avoid arguing with students.
1. Great teachers don’t accept excuses
Excuses are often a student’s way of asking for help. When we accept an excuse, we enable students to remain helpless. As a general rule, I don’t give away easy answers. “What’s the fingering for that note?” “Hmm, what does your fingering chart say it is?” They want to be lazy. We want to be lazy. We need to redirect that laziness. Provide the incentive to be industrious. The less you enable their excuses, the less frequently they will happen.
2. Great teachers use the broken record method
The challenge in repeating the same instruction is that we tend to get frustrated with the seeming lack of response. Keep on keeping on. Eventually, the students begin policing themselves. If you are really struggling, this may be something as simple as “Please be quiet…Please be quiet…Please be quiet.” Sooner or later, some of the better students will join in and start shushing the other students. Don’t show frustration.
As an aside, if you don’t know what the “Broken Record Method” is, it’s quite simple. You say the same thing over and over, much like a vinyl record with a scratch does. Follow this link to learn more.
3. Great teachers are patient
As with the broken record method above, great teachers have a highly developed sense of patience. “This too shall pass” In some ways, patience grows with experience, because we know that our efforts do yield the desired results. As a younger teacher, it’s more difficult to trust those who have gone before, but I promise things have a habit of getting better with patience. Just resist the urge to show frustration.
4. Great teachers choose their battles wisely
The time and place to confront a student is practically never in front of other students. Often the students that give us the most challenge are also the ones who thrive on attention. When you put them on a stage, they are bound to act. The same kind of conversation can be had privately before or after class, in a polite tone, and with well-planned words. The result of this is often a very polite exchange, and surely avoids major flareups.
5. Great teachers formulate plans
You don’t have to wait on a school counselor to come up with a behavior plan. Be proactive. As you begin to identify the students who will push your limits, sit down and figure out for each one of them when they are most likely to argue, and start to come up with individualized plans to work with them through these issues. As necessary, involve other teachers, school administrators, and parents. Then use this plan and have a private discussion with each student about resolving the problem.