Dealing With Difficult Students (excerpts)

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Hard of learning students… move on to some extend…

Sometimes teachers have to face ‘hard-of-learning students’…

Students who –no matter how hard they try- seem to be stuck in a rut of non-learning… they are experiencing great difficulties making it impossible for them to progress or progress much if they do progress at all…

This can be caused by a number of reasons… all of them to be taken into consideration by the teachers…

Motivation: are the students motivated to learn ? Does the teacher motivate them to learn and progress ?

A) some have been compelled to learn (programme, organisation, parents, …)

B) some are just not motivated by the course or the teacher…

Stress

Afraid of failing

Other source of stress (work, domestic, …)

Some will rashly jump at the conclusion that students who don’t learn nor progress are merely lazy or… stupid… when in fact the origin of the problem lies in the motivation… anybody can learn given a minimum work and motivation…

The first thing to do is to audit the students (as I explained in my Test and Audit sections)… this should detect any antagonism with third party interests and motivation…
While stress is an issue there are more ways than one to deal with stress… in the classroom and out… once the origin or cause of that stress has been identified…

It may not always be easy to identify the source or the cause of a stress, the generator of the stressed condition, although once it has been identified it is usually fairly easy to deal with it… and results can be achieved in a very short time… before they can be assessed over a longer period of time…

If the students prove to be stressed it is an asset that the teachers be able to exercise a stressless –or, better still, relaxing- environment and conditioning for learning… naturally music is a great partner in stress management but all the surrounding environment have to be taken into consideration… the classroom may need to be revisited, redesigned or even refurbished… the same goes for the lighting (most places are way overlit – ban neon lighting if you can), white tables in an overlit room stress the eyes and may even cause hurt and headaches, volume set too loud (often in audio and/or listening exercises, students will ask to turn the sound up thinking it’ll help their understanding… which it doesn’t… but causes stress), imbalanced activities may upset some students’ rhythms and patterns, …

The attitude of the teacher(s) can be a stress factor (i.e. hyperactivity, body language and postures, overconfidence, lack of faith, cross cultural differences, …)

I have by now lost count of the many students telling me that during their school years they were constantly repeated how bad they were ? I have long lost count… Sad realisation of some teachers’ attitude to students and teaching…

How can teachers expect students to trust them and progress with them if the teachers have no faith whatsoever in the potential ?

I have found that the best approach is to be both friendly and firm… and offer the students to partner in the teaching-learning team…

Fright of failure may be a cause of stress…

Younger students and other students also exposed to a short-term examination are often under a lot of stress… often from parents or bosses…

In most cases, I have found they work too much -and don’t take time to relax (also part of the memorisation process)- or have bad or imbalanced work patterns… which can easily be rethought and rearranged…
Stress may go further back and find its causes in work-related or domestic origins…

Those students will need to think about talking this out with their colleagues and employers… while others are going through a (difficult) divorce or major illness… or experiencing financial dire straits… or still under medication with strong side effects…

Whatever the cause or the origin of the stress, it must be dealt with so as to yield way for learning…

Other ‘hard-of-learning’ students may not have mentioned they are colour blind or poorly sighted or dyslexic or even hard of hearing… some may not even be aware of it…

I recently had a chat with a friend who was describing one of his employees as difficult and stubborn… and not liking her job… not ready to follow instructions…

The further he went into the description the more signs I recognize of a minor form of autism or could it be that extra chromosome… I advised him to send his employee in for a few tests… and given the qualities autistic people may have there could have be a much better use of her talent in the company if that was the case…

A few years ago one of my students came to see halfway through the year to tell me he was dyslexic… he hadn’t told me before and felt he was delaying the progress of the class (he was one of my best students in that group)… I told him I hadn’t noticed anything and there seemed to be nothing wrong with him… and he certainly wasn’t causing the class to drag along… he merely answered that dyslexic people have a way of turning situations to their advantage… and he certainly did for one !

One of my clients once told me about his assistant… who wasn’t responding to requests, wouldn’t follow orders properly and acted irresponsible… three years after starting in the company he was beyond recognition… and communication…

I suggested we did a mirror game act and I would play him if he would play his assistant’s role… it then became clear that he was dealing with his right hand in such a way that he was unable to work properly for want of a little peace and understanding…

Those are things I normally ask at the first meeting when dealing with the correction of the test and setting of objectives…

I always make sure I know exactly what my students like… so I can always use that to theirs advantage in my approach… there’s more than one way to skin a cat… and there’s more than one way to teach English !

Jesse CRAIGNOU
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https://www.amazon.co.uk/Comprehensive-Teacher-Jesse-Craignou/dp/1482731045/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503683095&sr=1-1

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