Hiding unpreparedness or lack of knowledge can become an art form for some students. In the last blog we spoke of some of the ways students do this. Now we will talk about how you can overcome these strategies.
Slurring over long words. Assume the student needs advanced phonics instruction. Work on dividing words into syllables and how to pronounce those words. Work on prefixes and suffixes by separating root words. Then discuss what each prefix and suffix means. Put them back together again. After four or five such lessons, ask the student to read a new passage and see if he still stumbles. Ask about particular words which might be hard to pronounce or understand.
Speaking softly. Ask other teachers if the student speaks softly in their classes. If it is just in your class, there is probably no speech impediment. Make sure there are no distracting noises. If there are, move to a quieter spot to work. Insist that the student face you when she speaks, and that she reads or speaks slowly. Have her repeat if you still can’t hear her. If this leads to tears, offer a moment for the student to collect herself, but keep going. You could always bring a microphone. Or bring a tape recorder and replay the student’s voice on “loud.” The student needs to know the stalling tactic won’t work.
Rarely asking questions. Turn the tables. You ask the questions which you think your student should be asking. Wait patiently for the answers.
Talking off-topic. Interrupt Mr. Congeniality and say you would love to chat about your weekend after class. Check your watch each time your student goes off-topic and make sure the student know you are adding that time to the original start time. Continue to add minutes if the student interrupts.
Going last. Mix the order of students if there is more than one, so the student who prefers to go last goes first or second. If this is not possible, arrange your teaching time so you will have more than enough time for the one who desires a short lesson.
Needing to use the rest room. If possible, five minutes before the lesson begins, call the student who usually needs to use the rest room and instruct him to use it now because there will be no time during the lesson. If that is not possible, tell the student at the beginning of the lessons that there will be no bathroom break, and stick to it. If the student still insists, time the student and make the student aware that you are extending the lesson by that amount of time.
Checking the time. Tell the student he may not check his phone or watch during the class period. Instead, you tell him every ten minutes or so how much longer the class will last. Make sure he knows the time exactly when you begin—you could show him your cell phone—and show him the time again when class ends.
Coming to a lesson without workbooks, texts or homework. If possible, before the lesson begins, remind the student what materials will be needed and tell her to get them now. If that is impossible, tell the student as she approaches for her lesson that she has exactly 30 seconds to get what she needs. Start counting aloud from 30 backwards. Then add 30 seconds to the end of the lesson.
Your hope is that the student will improve his or her behavior. If they do, say thank you. If there is another parent or a homeroom teacher whom the student respects, make sure you also let that person know the student’s behavior has improved. Always spread good news.