dislike a student

6 Things to Do When You Just Dislike a Student

Teachers shouldn’t play favorites, but there are times when personalities clash within your classroom and you simply dislike a student.

Unfortunately, the kids who are hardest to love are likely the ones who need it the most. Follow these tips to change your point of view when you dislike a student and ensure they get the most of their time in your classroom.

1. Ask advice from fellow teachers.

Whether you’re an experienced educator or just starting out, there are bound to be times where your colleagues can give you some helpful hints about dealing with unruly or difficult pupils. Talk to other teachers that had the student you are having trouble with or who have a great handle on their classes. However, instead of making it a venting session about how much you dislike a student, gather ideas and advice on how to handle the situation fairly and with kindness.

2. Learn more about the student.

dislike a studentIf a child is dealing with problems at home or with friends, they’re more likely to cause a stir during school hours. Try speaking to the student one-on-one or even consider a conference with the parents to get a better idea of what the student is dealing with. You’ve probably heard the saying “It’s hard to hate someone once you get to know them,” and it’s just as true of students as it is of adults. Once you know what is happening in a student’s life, you can help find ways for the pupil to better express their emotions in a way that’s not disruptive to the entire class.

3. Treat them the same as other classmates.

It may be difficult, but it’s important to stay consistent with punishments and procedures when dealing with a student you dislike. Maybe they are getting more notes home or being sent to the principal more often than others, but ensure they are not treated differently than others who commit similar transgressions. Each student in our care deserves to feel valued each day.

4. Try positive reinforcement.

dislike a studentWhen you dislike a student, almost everything he or she does seems to get you fuming. Combat this by constantly being on the lookout for good things they do. If they scored well on a test, congratulate them one-on-one. If they did a kind act for another student, acknowledge them in front of the class. The student may be thrilled with the praise and work to receive it again with other positive actions.

5. Get to the root of the problem.

Students act out for different reasons. Is it that they are having trouble understanding material (perhaps they have a learning disability or behavior problem) and giving up, or are they stressed about something outside the classroom? By getting a good idea of why the student is causing trouble, you’ll better know how to resolve the issue.

6. When all else fails, remember it’s only temporary.

If you’ve tried all the steps above and are still not seeing the student in a different light, take a deep breath and know that a school year doesn’t last forever. In just a few months, they will move onto a new classroom and you will have a whole new group of students to get to know. Who knows – maybe you’ll be able to look back on this student and realize how much they taught you!

Think of each time you dislike a student as a challenge to be kinder, more understanding, and patient. This kind of thinking can only be beneficial to you both inside and out of the classroom. The world is always in need of some calmness, good will, and sympathy.

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Stephanie Petit

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One Comment

  1. Chris Bates says:

    There should be more said about how to avoid #1 becoming a gripe-session and especially to have students overhear you “talking about” a student when asking colleagues for advice.
    #2 is on point by realizing that students generally act out because they crave attention: positive or negative. If they don’t know how to deal with something in their lives, they’ll cry out for help in the least embarrassing way, which is usually by disrupting others instead of asking for help.
    #3 is the biggest excuse I hear when a student acts out: that they saw something as unfair and just want to be treated fairly. Generally the squeaky wheel gets the grease so teachers are drawn to address the loudest, most disruptive student first, even if that student knows that they weren’t the first to say or do something off task. And because teachers will reprimand them first, they see it as unfair. The best advice I got regarding a seeming mob mentality of disruption was to redirect the ones that are more likely to comply first; these are the ones that rarely act out and thus rarely get remanded. But the best way to redirect these is nonverbally, with a shake of the head when eye contact is made or a subtle gesture to sit down. Once the ones who are loudest remain, they will realize that you did not reprimand them first and will join the compliant crowd, sometimes other students will remind them to cooperate and get back to work or at least not disrupt. Otherwise, they will immediately call “Unfair” if you try to “cut off the head of the snake” instead of “tame the snake”, because in the end the tame king snake in your classroom will eventually help you control the snake population.
    #4 hinges on students craving attention and needing their emotional bank account filled. I’ve been told that it takes 8 deposits to counteract the effect of 1 withdrawal, especially if it ended in an embarrassing public confrontation – the last thing students want but the first thing that they usually get.
    I hang my hat on #5 when I sincerely ask students, “What do you need,” not accusatorially or sarcastically but genuinely wanting to come alongside them and guide or support or show care and concern.
    #6 is about perspective – realizing this momentary difficulty is for your good. I’m more convinced each day that I choose my responses no matter what others do to me and that if I act unwisely then it was because of a button they pushed and I need to look in the mirror to see why they affected me so deeply. In the end, the more I realize that I’m loved and I even like myself, the more I can love (read that as “choose to serve” if not affectively) and even like others. So now I don’t take things as personally as I once did, because whatever’s going on with that difficult student, or rather the student having difficulty, it’s not about me and I only have today to point them in a better direction.

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