This week, I was working with a student who was having a really tough time. I had to take a moment and go back to what this child was feeling. I took a few seconds before interacting with him to make sure that I did not come off on the attack. The amount of disruption and disrespect that was being shown could easily have been escalated if I had chosen to go in with an immediate consequence instead of focusing on a solution. I am not excusing what the student was saying or doing, I am sharing a different strategy that can help resolve conflict. I am also not saying that this will resolve all conflicts especially when we add trauma and other outside circumstances. However, instead, I took a deep breath and asked the question, “How can I make you more successful?”
The student seemed to calm once the student realized that someone was there to help resolve the problem. As it turns out, the student was not respecting instructions and was escalating the problem because the headphones being used were not working. I am not saying that the behavior shown was excusable by any means; what I am saying is that by identifying the problem and seeing the issue from the student’s perspective, the situation was resolved in a successful way.
This was not the time to bring about punishment, instead, it was the time to discuss ways to resolve issues without adding to the overall problem. Once the headphones had been replaced and the student had a moment to calm down, we were able to discuss the reaction this student had to the problem. We set up a plan and a new classroom routine for the student to follow when something with technology was not functioning correctly.
Together, we worked out a consistent solution to the problem. The student had input in the solution and the hope is that it will be used consistently. However, I would not be surprised if the student has another inappropriate reaction to a conflict that can be resolved quickly. This is to be expected for many reasons, so, what we can do as educators is be consistent in our positive reinforcement and continuously model good decisions and reactions. This includes our interactions with students even when it is difficult – sometimes, when it is difficult, it matters most to us.