This blog is managed by Song Hock Chye, author of Improve Your Thinking Skills in Maths (P1-P3 series), which is published and distributed by EPH.

Monday, December 10, 2007

How do I handle the Class Brat?

He’s every teacher’s nightmare. He disrupts the class, he distracts other students, he’s Mummy’s boy – and he’s in YOUR class. Touch him once, and Mummy’s coming to get you thrice. So, what do you do?

It all depends on what the scenario is. Let’s face it. It is wonderful to have the 'ideal class' where all 40 students pay attention every single minute. But we all know that even in the best of classes, the brat exists. So rather than lament that the brat is in YOUR class and not in another teacher’s class, some pro-active action needs to be taken.

If you have a supportive principal and/or vice-principal, it makes life so much easier for you. The problem is that this is not the case all the time. When this happens, the best thing is for you to contact the parents.

Here are points to consider:

1. Calling Parents of the disruptive student gives you the upper hand -

When you have an 'untouchable' brat in class, you can expect his parents to be over-protective over him. The slightest 'punishment' from you, example making him stand in the corner of the class, may result in you being 'summoned' for 'wrongful' punishment. It is therefore advisable on the teacher’s part to call the parents about his behaviour, before they call you – or worse, your principal.

If you initiate the call, it puts you on the platform that you are the teacher and you are in charge – and their child has violated some basic class rules. If they call you, it puts you on the defensive, and you now have to explain and convince them, why you have 'punished' their child.

If you make the call, you place yourself as 'the authority'. You, as a teacher, have made it known that teaching is your job and if their child disrupts the class, he is disrupting you (a civil servant and a government official) from performing your duties delegated to you, by the government.

If they call you, they expect you to accede that you treat their (brat) child in a special manner, and if you don’t, they will get you (a civil servant and a government official) 'reported' to the authorities.

In short, the party who makes the call, calls the shots.

2. Teaching is your job, parenting is the parents’ job –

Some parents expect their child to be treated as the special one in class. They say that their child is special. But then, every child is special, isn’t it? What they mean is that they expect YOU, to parent their child in their absence. A subtle hint to them that you are the teacher - (which means your job is to teach, and they are the parents, which means that their job is to nurture the child) - will usually drive home the point that they cannot expect “special favours”.

Some parents may insist that their child have the “right” to behave in such a manner in class because he is “different”. What can be done is to “reverse” the situation. Would they be happy if their child is eager to learn in class, only to be distracted by his classmates?

Some students not only disrupt, they also shout at teachers and use vulgarities at his classmates and schoolmates. You can put forward a simple question to his parents like, “Mr and Mrs ….., do you think that cursing or using swear words is a socially acceptable behaviour?”

It would take a nutty parent to answer “yes” to the above question. More often than not, when that question is posed, the parents will remain silent out of embarrassment, because you have actually hinted that they, as parents, have failed to raise their child properly.

3. Build rapport with the parents, and the job’s more than half done –

It is so much easier to control the disruptive student if you have his parents’ support. It is therefore important that you build a rapport with his parents and convince them that they need to be involved.

It must be remembered that it is the parents who have the ultimate ability to motivate, reward and punish, their own child. As such, if you convince the parents that their child is not behaving in a socially acceptable manner, you can expect them to take action that their child puts effort to be less disruptive in class.

So what if the parents are not supportive? That happens too, doesn’t it?

The “worst case scenario” is when you have a brat in class, your principal is not as supportive as you wish he would be, and the parents don’t support the idea that his unacceptable behaviour should be curtailed. Now what?

The above situation hardly happens. But if it does happen to you, just remember that the child will only stay with you at most, 2 years.

Every job has its ups and downs. Be thankful that the class you have keeps changing every year or every two years. If you work in the private sector, that brat kid may be in the form of the brat colleague who is the boss’ pet – and he may well stay with you for much longer than 2 years!

Teaching is such a wonderful job. It is stressful, yes. But come on now, which job isn’t?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Teaching is your job, and nurturing is a part of it. You sound very bitter in your article. No comment about 'brat in class', your ignorance doesn't even deserve a response.. Would be lovely to pass this on to your district. Nasty article.. Shame on you!