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When a student tries to bait me…

Date: March 7th, 2013
By: Polly Bath

Watch this video [2:13] to learn one way to avoid taking the bait when a defiant student wants to test your reaction.

Let’s say one of my students, Ryan, is not working.

I go over and say, “Go ahead and try number one, and I’ll be back to check on you.”

And then he takes his pen and very deliberately drops it on the floor.

I’ve seen kids do that. That really gets to us.

What is that behavior?

That’s Refusal.

It has not created a level of disruption such that I need to shut down my class, and I don’t want it to. And, I’m not going to go to battle with Ryan.

So I ask myself in my head, “What’s the function of that behavior right now, this moment?”

I don’t know, for a fact, because I haven’t done an assessment on Ryan. But I can try to guess. So I say to myself, “What is he trying to get from me?”

I conclude that he wants to see what I’m going to do.

If it was avoidance then he might just sit there and doodle and avoid the work, but for him to blatantly drop his pen, it’s as if he is saying, “I don’t feel like doing this today.”

That’s something other than avoidance.

In such a case I’ll turn to other students immediately, because I have to redirect myself! “We’re all set on two? We’re all set on two? We’re all set on two, good. You guys are done, go ahead and get that together. Hey, you guys over here, why don’t you guys get together as a group and finish up?”

I’m not going to address Ryan’s behavior in front of the entire class.

Now when he gets to the group, he may just start working, and I might not even have to address the fact that he dropped his pencil so defiantly.

I always have to ask myself, am I being baited? Because above all, don’t take the bait!

Click on my video above for more.