Music teacher reaches needy, defiant student

Guest blog by Mike Weddington

Music Teacher, Wilkes County, NC

Although there are many situations in which the six virtues make things better, a recent one stands out to me. Last year I taught a fourth grade boy who lost his father. I will call him John.

John was likable and didn’t get into trouble, but after the death of his father he became angry and stopped caring about school. He started to bully classmates. He challenged authority, and he was hard to deal with in the classroom. My confrontations with him usually ended in arguments about every little thing. He refused to do what I asked, so I dug in my heels and insisted that he meet classroom behavioral expectations, the same as other students. I felt it was my duty.

This year is different. John has a compassionate classroom teacher whose caring nature has made a big difference. This year is also different because my interactions with John have been positive, too. I decided to be humble and realize that John may not be able to follow all my behavior rules. I decided to channel his aggression and outbursts into something positive. I adjusted my rigid expectations and connected with him on his level.

I began by not immediately shutting him down when he began his classroom outbursts.  Rather I engaged him in a positive way and joked with him, whenever I could.  He quickly realized that I cared about him and things are better between us this year. It was humbling to realize that I needed to connect on his level and respect him before he would reciprocate with respect for me.

John is much more pleasant to be around and his challenges are good natured, instead of bitter and angry. When I give him attention in a non-confrontational way, the entire class is more productive. I have not changed my expectations for him. I have altered the way I deal with him. Humility, instead of pride, makes a positive difference in educational situations.


There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment