What’s Rude?

I have a student who shuts down on me and gets defensive. Today I was announcing our next task and that we’d have a quiz at the end of class. He interrupted and said a few things that included “You don’t teach us.” I had a few silent thoughts and asked him to go into the hallway until he was ready to have a positive attitude. After I got the rest of the class going I went out in the hall for a chat. I wasn’t expecting it to go well because once he’s mad at me that usually lasts the rest of the day, but with my co-teacher out I was determined to put in my best effort. At one point in our chat I said, “What you said was rude.” He responded, “I don’t understand how saying ‘I don’t know’ is rude,” I interrupted and said, “It’s not! ‘I don’t know how to’ and ‘You didn’t teach me’ sound really different. ‘I don’t know how’ is great and I’d be happy to help.” And this time, he listened! He nodded! He came back into class after a discussion of how if you do the work the quiz should be easy! Hooray for “I statements” – now I just need to remember to ask him to rephrase using an “I statement” every time he gets mad at me. Which will be hard, but I’m the adult so I can deal with it. 

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One thought on “What’s Rude?

  1. Great post. So many students live in environments where courteous speech is just not something they learn about. I think it is an important part of our jobs to teach them how their tone shapes the responses they get. The hard part is to respond in a considered way, not to react viscerally to something we would never say to another human.

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