Lately, I’ve been working with several students who do not want to follow directions. They want to play, and will gladly entertain themselves rather than follow the drills. I found myself leaning towards trying to gain compliance; I caught myself saying things like “I need you to focus right now.”
That brought me up short. Seeking compliance for compliance sake won’t work, long-term, for these students. I was being reactive, rather than proactive, in figuring out how to reach them.
So I’ve been considering the student and figuring out ways to reach them.
For one student, I took a brief moment at a break to show him a more advanced kick. I let him try until the instructor called him back to class. Initially, he refused to return as he kept trying the advanced kick instead. So I commented, “This makes me not want to show you anything else…” Not only did the student immediately comply, but he listened to me a little bit better than before.
Another student grinned at me as he deliberately did the exact opposite of what I asked. We had been clashing all during class, as he tested my limits. Nothing I had done was working. So I sat down with him, looked him straight in the eyes, and told him: “You are not a white belt anymore. You are a higher belt now. We expect more from you now. I know that you are better than this. I expect better.” And, oddly enough, the student stopped fighting me so hard.
One student who likes to feel in charge paid more attention to directions when I prompted: “Remember to watch so that you can help your partner if he doesn’t know what to do.” (Rather than “Pay attention so that YOU know what to do.”)
With another student, I’ve made a point of noting any moment where he does well and bragging to his mother after class about it. While this isn’t my only tactic, I have noticed that he’s having more good moments since I’ve started doing this.
These are all slow changes, built up over time, rather than short-termed compliance. Also, this is a gradual process. But the good moments are still steadily increasing.
I have not figured out how to reach all of the students. Oddly enough, though, one of those students I can’t seem to reach is starting to act like she prefers to be around me than the other assistants. While this is not helpful in her learning the curriculum, it does let me know that I have not broken my rapport as I seek the way to help her improve.