Liking the unlikable student

You can picture him/her right now. S/he walks into your class after the bell, unapologetic, no books under their arm. Your heart sinks, as you were hoping s/he had skipped, or even better, had been suspended.

All teachers have had a student they find… difficult to like.

Here is a strategy that has worked for me – make a deal with yourself to talk to him or her every single day for 10 school days in a row. No exceptions. And the conversation must be about anything other than your course material. – “I saw your game last week – you’ve got a pretty good jump shot.” – “Take off the Yankee hat please, and then tell me if you think they’ll make the playoffs this year.” – “I like that show too. Is it on Netflix yet?”

I know it sounds challenging, and it is. Plus, the student will be suspicious at first. But it works, and while you still don’t have to like one another, that connection is a wonderful tool when it comes time for you to steer the classroom conversation back to the curriculum. S/he has a voice and wants to be liked, and that means it’s worth a try.

@pdowneyenglish Ontario, Canada – English Dept Head

This ‘In Brief’ Article Originally appeared in the October 2015 Edition of UKEdMagazine.
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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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