I had a lengthy discussion today with one student. This student has been the focus of this blog once before.
I have learned from my principal that it can be very effective with students at this junior high age to be completely honest. That is, instead of beating around the bush and offering advice in a roundabout way, come right out and point out the root of the issue as adults see it. This can definitely backfire with certain students or if done at the wrong time.
Today, I felt it was the right time to lay it out there for this guy:
Can I say something that is a little bit pointed – even if it might come across as insulting?
I think your perception of reality is often skewed. This causes you to feel like the victim a lot, and when you fire back at the adult, things only get worse.
(student thinks for a moment, then thoughtfully), I think at life a lot differently than most kids.
(I visibly agree with him)
Can we try something? You know that, in the past, when you get called out by a teacher for something and you argue, nothing good comes of it. Right?
Let’s try an experiment. Next time a teacher comes after you for something even if you didn’t really do it (from your point of view), I want you to say, “Okay.”
(student ponders more)
That’s going to be hard.
I knew I could count on you to try it.
We ended the conversation on very positive terms. It will be hard for him to put aside his pride and just say, “okay,” but I hope he tries it.
I am not sure yet if I want to give his teachers a heads-up on that, though. To really have this experiment most authentic, I shouldn’t say anything to them. But to give this guy the best chance of experiencing positives when he takes ownership for bad situations, teachers need to understand the internal workings of this experience for this child.
We’ll see how this works out. The key with this intervention is that it is simple and easy to remember. The tricky thing with this boy is that, no matter what, he seems to feel singled out and treated unfairly. It’s been a year and a half now that I’ve worked with him very closely, and I’m hoping we can start to take more ownership with this little intervention.