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  1. #1
    PiggyInClover is offline Newbie
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    Question Any Tips on Managing Difficult Behaviours in Adults?

    Hello Teachers

    I've got some difficult adult behaviour going on in one class. Any tips on improving conflicted dynamics would be much appreciated. Thanking you in advance!

    Class Profile
    2 students of different language levels - the middle ground is pre-int.
    Main Course Objective: Speaking and Listening
    Lesson Frequency: 1 hr a week
    No. of Lessons completed so far: 12

    Student Profiles
    Student A: female, aged 48, intermediate, general learning attitude and behaviour: positive, keen, motivated, enthusiastic, polite, respectful, appreciative and responsive
    Student B: female, aged 59, elementary, general learning attitude and behaviour: negative, anxious, under-confident, under-performing, mistrustful, rebellious, competitive, needy, controlling, stonewalling/silent or hostile/argumentative (towards me; not towards the other student), often refuses to participate, hypercritical, questions 'the point' of (nearly all) activities, says she doesn't have time to study, wants to quit (but doesn't).

    Obviously, my difficulty is with Student B!

    Techniques I have used to try and improve the situation:
    • Lots of praise and encouragement
    • Bespoke materials with topics they're personally interested in (related to hobbies or lifestyle, etc.)
    • Emphasis on fluency rather than accuracy
    • Emphasis on lexical skills rather than grammar structures
    • Language learning needs analysis questionnaires & feedback
    • Identifying learning resources outside the classroom; trying to encourage autonomous learning
    • Identifying emotive affects of learning
    • VAK Learning style questionnaires - reinforcing individual learning styles
    • Progress testing rather than performance testing
    • Changing dynamics, e.g. where they sit in class/where I sit; less homework / more homework; using L1 vs total immersion; different materials - authentic vs academic; using relaxing music/candles ...


    Nothing works on her!

    I know that sometimes a teacher has to wave a white flag and say to oneself "there's nothing more I can do", but perhaps there is something I could do that I haven't thought of yet.

    And I know that students (especially adult students) have to share some responsibility for what goes on the classroom too - what they put in, they get back, etc. I am not sure that Student B knows this though! (Or cares?)

    An added problem is that Student B's negativity is contagious. It creates a bad atmosphere and that's beginning to affect Student A's motivation too. Student A is a genial people-pleaser, and it's only natural that she should try to support Student B and ally with her. Result: an increasingly difficult class; not very conducive to learning.

    I should also mention that I am teaching this class for free as a favour to a friend! So it's not as if they are 'wasting' money! It's entirely up to them to come or not. I could choose to terminate the class if I wanted to, but as long as they keep coming I will persevere. It would be nice if Student B just smiled once in a while!



    Any helpful tips appreciated. Thanks again in advance.

    Piggy in Clover

  2. #2
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Any Tips on Managing Difficult Behaviours in Adults?

    Welcome to the forum, PiggyInClover.

    I am afraid that's the only useful thing I can say. You seem to have done your best - rather more than I would have done, I think. This old cynic would have given up six lessons ago, especially if I were doing it free, as a favour to a friend. If Student B doesn't have the common courtesy to show some form of civilised behaviour in return for what she is receiving, then (expletive deleted) her.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Any Tips on Managing Difficult Behaviours in Adults?

    Hi
    Welcome to the forum. You've done a great job. The following is an extract of loads of articles I have regarding misbehavior in class. Unfortunately I can't remember the website. If you liked it i can paste more of them for you. However you've done a lot and you're a great teacher. I do apologize for some mistakes in the following extract because I've just copied and pasted it for you.
    Good luck
    P.S Sorry, it's too long also.


    1. http://www.disciplinehelp.com/teache...or&step=Action
    Last edited by Tdol; 04-Apr-2012 at 05:23. Reason: I have replaced the article with a link to the page

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Any Tips on Managing Difficult Behaviours in Adults?

    Quick one (and apologies if it's in the long list above but I don't have time to read that) - a friend of mine told me that she managed to get an unresponsive student engaged by asking that student to give a class to the teacher in her (the student's) own language. The teachers asked the other students to behave as if they didn't speak their native language and allow the student-cum-teacher to really get on with it.

    Apparently, the student wasn't initially keen but did it and turned out to be really good. Afterwards, she said she hadn't really understood how difficult it was or what it was like to stand up the front and actually run the class but she'd got a better understanding of what it was about and, particularly, why it's so demoralising to have students in your class who aren't joining in.

  5. #5
    Esgaleth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Any Tips on Managing Difficult Behaviours in Adults?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Quick one (and apologies if it's in the long list above but I don't have time to read that) - a friend of mine told me that she managed to get an unresponsive student engaged by asking that student to give a class to the teacher in her (the student's) own language. The teachers asked the other students to behave as if they didn't speak their native language and allow the student-cum-teacher to really get on with it.

    Apparently, the student wasn't initially keen but did it and turned out to be really good. Afterwards, she said she hadn't really understood how difficult it was or what it was like to stand up the front and actually run the class but she'd got a better understanding of what it was about and, particularly, why it's so demoralising to have students in your class who aren't joining in.
    One more point to add, it seldom helps to work harder than the students, only few of them can appreciate the teacher's work. The consumer's attitude such students bring into class is a true joy- and study-killer.

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Any Tips on Managing Difficult Behaviours in Adults?

    Quote Originally Posted by moonlike View Post
    Hi
    If you liked it i can paste more of them for you

    Please don't copy and paste articles here- it's against copyright laws. Our site is based in the UK, where copyright laws are very strict. You can post extracts as quotes under fair use, but not the whole thing. Also, please always credit sources. Thank you.

  7. #7
    moonlike's Avatar
    moonlike is offline Member
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    Default Re: Any Tips on Managing Difficult Behaviours in Adults?

    Thanks dear Tdol to insert the link above. You've done a great job.

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Any Tips on Managing Difficult Behaviours in Adults?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    I am afraid that's the only useful thing I can say. You seem to have done your best - rather more than I would have done, I think. This old cynic would have given up six lessons ago, especially if I were doing it free, as a favour to a friend. If Student B doesn't have the common courtesy to show some form of civilised behaviour in return for what she is receiving, then (expletive deleted) her.
    I agree completely. You have obviously gone to a lot of trouble and tried many things. If that's how she feels, I would walk away and let her go and pay for some lessons elsewhere.

  9. #9
    PiggyInClover is offline Newbie
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    Lightbulb Re: Any Tips on Managing Difficult Behaviours in Adults?

    Many thanks for all your support, feedback, ideas and suggestions, which seem to fall into two camps: (a) throw in the towel and quit, (b) problem-solving.

    Thank you also for the link to the article, which I read with great interest. Much of it is relevant.

    I have never given up on a difficult student, apart from one kid 15 years ago - a 5-year-old with severe conduct disorder. After that kid deliberately urinated on my carpet (laughing demonically at me), I refused to carry on teaching her! This is not the same situation of course. I hope!

    Adults do regress in the classroom, and in this particular case, Student B - aged 59 - has not been in a classroom for about 40 years. I suspect she has preconceived ideas of what teacher should be doing, which I do not fulfill for her. She is not used to communicative methods of language learning, and possibly finds my whole touchy-feely, mistake-tolerant, classroom feedback approach rather bewildering. The dysfunctional part of her behaviour is that she responds to my methods with anger. Her thinking may be: "If I'm not having a good time, then no one will." She may even get some sort of perverse satisfaction or feeling of control out of that.

    You have to wonder why any adult would continue attending a class when it is (a) free (b) such an unpleasant and stressful experience for her. I suspect that she equates quitting with a loss of face.

    Therefore, I have to allow her an exit strategy which does not mean 'defeat'. Aiming for a win-win.

    I thought about introducing a charge (money). This would allow Student B to evaluate very precisely whether she wants to continue. It would also give her an excuse to say, "sorry, can't afford that" with a more graceful exit rather than "I can't handle it" or "I just don't like you" ! Paying for the class would also inject a degree of equality into the exchange. Part of her frustration might be about feelings of guilt that she cannot, at present, reciprocate.

    One teacher I have spoken to thinks that to start charging them now is unfair, given that they only entered into the classes on the understanding that they were free. That teacher also thinks I am conflating the two students, penalising Student A because of Student B's behaviour.

    I get his point, but Student A is influenced by Student B anyway. If they both don't want to pay and quit, it lets us all off the hook (easy life!). If they accept, it might help Student B to feel like she is making a personal investment into her own learning, and therefore has to try harder to 'get her money's worth'.

    That's a very interesting point that Esgaleth made: "it seldom helps to work harder than the students".

    Thank you for all your thoughts. This forum has been very helpful for me to think things through.

    Hugs,
    Piggy

  10. #10
    PiggyInClover is offline Newbie
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    Cool Re: Any Tips on Managing Difficult Behaviours in Adults?

    Problem solved -- the "difficut" student has just emailed me to say she is quitting.

    <Phew> in some ways. Disappointing in others. I wish I could have got through to her.

    I am not sure where that leaves the other adult student. I guess that's up to her.

    We are all on a learning curve! I've been teaching language since the mid '90s. Still learning!

    Thank you all for your support.

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