Tug of War

I've mentioned The Woman-Child a couple of times now. I've also mentioned her resemblance to ALP, my original unholy classroom nightmare. She also is one of the student who most often brings out the worst in me, the types of behavior I described yesterday.

Every once in a while there's a student who just gets under your skin (if you're lucky it's just one). TWC is a student with a remarkable ability to get rile me up. She has a response to every question: "I've asked you politely to stop talking. Why are you still talking?" "It's my my mouth, I can talk." She's always ready with some rebuttal, sometimes logical, often not.

It's this behavior that threatens to push me to the limit. I've worked hard to restrain myself from reaching that point. And I've largely succeeded. As I've said before, getting into a back and forth with a student is a lose-lose situation. I've gotten to the point where I succeed in avoiding confrontation with her maybe 50-75% of the time. Every once in a while I find myself drawn in. Afterwards, I find myself asking how I let myself get dragged into that situation.

TWC is a smart girl. That's why her back talk is often infuriating. More so, that's why I'm so frustrated by her lack of effort. She will sit in class all day and barely lift a finger. She will sit there writing notes to other students, usually stirring up drama.

The other day she was at it again. In this situation I usually take away the paper she's writing on. This time she grabbed the paper before I could get a full grasp on it. What should I have done? I'm not sure, but what I did was grab her notebook out of her hand and walk away.

It wasn't my lowest moment, but certainly far from my proudest. And I couldn't help but think back to October when I found myself in the same situation with ALP, struggling to get a ruler out of his hands that he was using to tap-tap-tap away on his desk. I've come a long way since dealing (really having no idea how to deal) with ALP. But I clearly still have work to do in learning how to deal with this type of student.

On the one hand there is only a month left in the year. I have tried everything I can think of to help TWC fix her behavior. Her academic and social life are basically in ruin because of her attitude. And yet she continues on the same rude and brazen path. I'm not giving up yet, and I won't let that become an option. But the fight is exhausting as I continue the same daily arguments that I can never win.


asdfuiop said…
I've got a boy in my 4/5 split class who sounds almost exactly like this girl - believe me, I know how frustrating it can be! He's got something to say to everything, and I frequently have to stifle my own impulse to engage him. Sometimes I just ignore him completely, but obviously that's often not possible.

It seems to help if I can remember to phrase things to him as questions. If he's out of his seat, it works better to ask him "where are you supposed to be right now?" than to tell him "you need to be in your seat." Either way, he's going to say something back to me - if I ask a question I may get a real response, but if I give a direct order I know I'm just going to get lip and be annoyed.

I simultaneously wonder about all the teachers who had him before me, and all the teachers who are going to have him after this year. I wonder what's gone so wrong every year that he's at this point - and I imagine that the teachers he has in the future will wonder the same thing about me. Every year he gets passed on mostly because no one can stand the idea of having him back in their class for a second year, but the problems continue...

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