Harry Wong
Dec 2017
Vol 14 No 4

Advice for Subs – “This is stupid!”

By Barbara Pressman

When a student says, “This is Stupid!”

Dear Barbara,

I had a student today who was impossible. Each time I gave an assignment he decided that it was stupid. I tried to explain to him why it wasn’t stupid, but he wouldn’t listen.

Should I waste my time trying to explain the reason for the work, or should I ignore him?

Erin from Austin, TX

Dear Erin,

There is always a reason for misbehavior. Your student is acting out for a purpose. When you sub, you’re at a disadvantage, because you don’t have the whole story. You can only guess.

  • He may be locked in a battle of wills with a parent. He lost an argument, so he’s replaying the battle with you, hoping he can win this one.
  • He has serious learning issues and he doesn’t know how to do the assignment. To cover up for inadequacies, he pretends that he’s too good to do the work. He thinks he’s saving face in front of his classmates by acting like this assignment is simply beneath him.
  • He’s craving attention. By refusing to do the work, he has a sure way of forcing you and the class to pay attention to him.

Don’t get caught in his trap by reacting with anger. Remain calm, help the other students get started. Then quietly walk over to the young man and tell him that you are here to help him. If he continues to rant, walk away, and tell him you’ll come back when he calms down. Wait five minutes, and return. Tell him that he has a choice to accept your help, or go to the office. Don’t be afraid to send him out if you must. It’s unfair to the class to allow this student to disrupt the flow of the lesson.




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This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 and is filed under *ISSUES, Barbara Pressman, March 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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