I love the way this parent responded and wondered if I could find creative ways to problem solve situations in my classroom this way. Here are some things that I have done in order to try but you may have other situations and answers so please share them with me.
Student: Is there any day we don’t have homework in this class?
Teacher: Yes, I’m not a total meanie. If you are dead or I am dead, there is no homework.
Student: This is boring. Why do we have to read this stuff?
Teacher: We will do it my way this time, but I’d be glad to show you the next unit and you can help me figure out interesting ways to teach it. (By the way, I’ve had students who really loved helping me with this and it worked!)
Student: I hate taking tests. I can’t memorize all this stuff.
Teacher: Okay, help me figure out a way that you can show me that you know this material. (Sometimes they actually come up with creative fun ways that really assess their knowledge)
Student: (is being disruptive and won’t stay in his seat during instruction)
Teacher: It seems like you have a lot of energy today. I want to see how long you can run in place while I teach this lesson. If you can run quietly on the side until I finish the lesson, then you won’t have to answer some questions on the worksheet.
Student: I know how to do all this stuff already. Why do I have to learn it again?
Teacher: Then you should be able to pass the test. If you get 90% right on the test, you can move to the next level (sometimes, they really can pass it, so I let them move ahead. Why should they be bored learning things they already know? This only causes them to be disruptive?)
My students felt like they had very little control over their lives so many times, their behavior was a result of trying to gain this control. I really feel that if we give them choices, they will feel like they have more control and be ready to learn. Of course, the choices given are ones that I can live with so in the end, we all win. It is when students feel backed in a corner that they come out belligerent and argumentative. If we help our students feel successful, maybe it will become ingrained and they will be successful.