This technique comes from various professions such as the customer service and debt collection industries. When there is tension of some type, humans tend to take a naturally defensive position. When students misbehave and are caught, they expect an argument or confrontation – they gear up for it. A different tack is to simply agree with whatever the student says, within reason of course. Not only is it extremely difficult to argue and to get upset with a person who is agreeing with you, it leaves the student with nowhere to go – students cannot escalate as easily because their teachers choose to not match their increasing verbal assaults. If you react in an unpredictable way such as by agreeing with them, students have no ammunition to fire back. This allows the situation to de-escalate very quickly and often an offending student will go silent and await your instructions. At this point, a calm suggestive instruction is needed such as, ‘how about we sit outside for a moment and catch our breath?’
Here is an example: a student says, ‘Miss you are the worst teacher I have ever seen’ and waits for the expected reaction. The student clearly wants a reason to escalate so he or she can be kicked out of class – classic task avoidance. However, the teacher simply says, ‘probably true, but I do my best – do your work’ accompanied by a smile and then walks off nonchalantly. Another option in this situation would be to say, ‘that’s interesting Sasha, I would love your expert feedback but at the moment it is learning time – get on with your work’. This technique works really well with students who are angry, upset and being aggressive. Obviously, some tact is required here as the wrong tone can be seen as sarcastic or offensive (there’s nothing wrong with a little sarcasm if it’s done with humour and without embarrassing or belittling the student). The teacher may follow-up at a later time to ensure Sasha is made fully aware that her comments were not appropriate or appreciated.
Not only is it extremely difficult to argue and to get upset with a person who is agreeing with you, it leaves the student with nowhere to go.
Adam Green is an advisor to government, a registered teacher, an instructional designer and a #1 best selling author. He is completing a Doctor of Education and was previously head of department for one of the country’s largest SAER (students at educational risk) schools. Adam is managing director of ITAC, an accredited training provider for thousands of teacher aides every year.
Source: Behaviour Management Skills and Strategies for the Modern Classroom: 100+ research-based strategies for both novice and experienced practitioners.
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