Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Talking to a "Problem Student"

Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Talking to a "Problem Student"

Article excerpt

Teachers encounter a multitude of students over their careers, and among those are students deemed to be "problem students." Often instructors arrange to have a private talk with them in a neutral environment. However, the context of discourse during a conversation to impact such behavior can benefit or detract from the ultimate outcome. With the goal of enhancing communication without a student tuning out, a Los Angeles teacher (Frank) has shared some helpful tactics.

He notes a student's perspective of what these encounters sound like is probably "You're being a problem and this is why the problem is happening and why you have to stop." Such a conversation is more likely to negatively impact the teacher/student relationship than improve engagement.

A meeting in which the instructor focuses on a student's success has potential to better reach an individual student: "the bottom line is the student's learning, safety, and success" (para. 12). The author offers a couple of simple tactics to avoid students leaving a private conversation with the impression that the instructor simply wants to make his or her own life-or other students' lives-easier.

Start the conversation on a positive note and avoid nagging is the first tactic. Include three elements to accomplish this:

* Recognize and show appreciation for the student.

* Explain what you've observed to indicate the student's success is at risk.

* Ask what you can do to support the student.

Recognition can be for something small-like coming to the meeting-or include any accomplishment the student has made. …

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