Classroom Clinic – The Last Word


“Dear classroom clinic,
Generally, the behaviour in my classes is positive but I have a couple of students who when I challenge them always want to have the last word… What can I do to discourage this behaviour?” 

Avoid wherever possible engaging in conflict with students. Some students will deliberately try and get you into back-and-forth dialogue to waste time. If you argue back, you are giving them what they want. Non-verbal body language can work here, as well as calmly and clearly repeating the expectations.

For particularly persistent students, using a ‘partial agreement’ can be very effective, e.g.:

Student: “It wasn’t me! It was him! I didn’t do anything!”

Teacher: “Maybe not – but we’re all clear on the class rules about that behaviour. I’d like you to concentrate on your task now. Thanks.”

Think carefully about what you say to students before you say it – don’t use questions in your responses – “What do you think you’re doing?” – as this will just open up dialogue.

Don’t state anything specific about the poor behaviour – “Don’t rip up your worksheet, there is paper all over the floor now!” – as it’s not helpful, the student knows they are misbehaving.

Instead, try and re-phrase as a practical instruction: “This is a really important worksheet, I need you to glue it into your book and pick up this paper, thank you.”

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