As a relief teacher, I meet and work with challenging students on a regular basis; and it is fair to say that my 2008 school experience and 2009 relief teaching experience in a TRIBES school have defined my attitude and management approach towards these students.
My experiences, observations, and professional learning in these schools underpin my ongoing efforts as a relief teacher to win-over and build effective relationships with my most challenging students. They have also contributed to some of my major success stories working with students that some dread to teach.
Common Characteristics of Challenging Students
- Their behaviour disrupts the learning process, verbally or physically harms others, frustrates their teachers, and often results in office withdrawal or school suspension.
- They are usually male, ranging in age from 7-12 years old (K-7). I have also worked with some challenging female students, but they are usually found in upper primary.
- They can be socially-isolated, or associate themselves with students with similar background experiences.
- Their behaviour is directly linked to the emotional / social baggage they bring to school, and is motivated and purposeful.
- They generally can’t cope with changes in classroom routines, and are more likely to negatively respond to relief teachers.
- The attitude and management approach of the classroom teacher, and school staff, are CRITICAL to a successful intervention with a challenging students
The Three Keys to Working with Challenging Students
- Focus on Building Positive Relationships
- Focus on the Classroom Learning Environment
- Focus on the Teacher’s Attitude, Professional Knowledge, and Management Approach
I will be discussing these “Three Keys” in the context of Rod Plevin’s (2009) eBook: MAGIC Classroom Management: How to get the most from the worst kids in school (www.classroom-management.org), as his approach mirrors the lessons I have learnt over the past few years.