Apr 7, 2009

Never Have an Argument w/ a Student Ever Again

I never have arguments with students. It just doesn't happen. I'm not saying I have great relationships with all my kids; a few of them hate my guts, I'm sure. But I definitely AM saying I never have arguments. Ever. What's the secret?

"I understand."

The end-all phrase. The argument killer. I can almost guarantee it's effectiveness.

Take, for example, Case #1:

"Jordan, please put your headphones away."

"Aww, Mr. G. It's not even on that loud."

"I understand. But, I need you to put your headphones away."

"But you can't even see them!"

"I understand. But, I need you to put your headphones away."


Consider the even more extreme example, Case #2:

"Brianna, I need you to stop talking."

"What? What'd I say? I didn't even say anything!"

"I understand. But, I need you to stop talking."

"You always pick on me. I hate this class!"

"I understand. But, I need you to stop talking."

It may seem like the teacher's become a broken record, but the phrase works. Most arguments stem from a student's need to claim victor, especially in front of an audience. If the teacher concedes outright, the student has already won - the need to win is eliminated. The teacher acknowledges the student's frustrations/anger, but is still able to communicate the intended message. Both parties win.

Rarely do students catch on. I can think of only 2 or 3 instances all year where students have pointed out "you always be sayin' that!" Likewise for instances where the response becomes "no you DON'T understand!" And even during those, my response is still: "I understand."

Argument still evaded. Directive still sent. Disruption eventually resolved.

Try it. But beware, the phrase can easily leak outside the classroom realm...

"...blah, blah, blah, blah... the night was awful! And plus, it was a bad hair day!.... blah, blah, blah"

"I understand. But I need to go to bed now."

[Credit where credit's due]


Kate Nowak said...

If you want to mix it up, "I believe you" also works.

"I don't have my homework because I left my book in my friend's car!"

"I believe you, but you still need to show it to me for credit."

Krizia said...

OH MAN. "I understand," has been amazing for me :) and now I'm really excited to use, "I believe you."