As a teacher, there comes a time when you need to have a difficult conversation with your students. So the question is, how should you handle such discussions? Here are tips on how to handle difficult discussions with your students.
Before you have a difficult discussion with your students, you should plan it. It would be best to decide what you say and how you say it. Having a plan helps you remain calm and composed. You will be surprised at how effective your discussion can be with this simple preparation.
First, have an idea of what the problem is. Is it one student or more? Is there a recurring problem that needs to be addressed? The more information you know about the situation, the better prepared for the discussion you will be.
Second, decide on your goals for the meeting. What do you want to achieve by having this discussion? Do you want to improve student performance or behavior? Do you want students to work together more effectively? Do you want students to learn from their mistakes? Whatever your goals are for the meeting, make sure that they are realistic and achievable given the time frame of this conversation.
Once you have determined your goals, the next step is to establish guidelines for your meeting. For example, what kind of behavior do you expect from students during the discussion? Do you want them to remain quiet and attentive, or are there times when they can talk? How should they respond to questions or comments? Should they answer in complete sentences or give a yes, no, or maybe response? This may seem like common sense, but without guidelines for behavior and response, your meeting can go off track very quickly.
Most students will not offer their ideas and thoughts on the spot unless you explicitly ask for them. If your meeting is a discussion, then you need to make sure that each student has an opportunity to contribute. If you are having trouble getting students to contribute, acknowledge their contribution when they offer an idea or comment.
For example, “Thanks for sharing that idea, Jodi,” or “Thanks for your input on this issue, Tyler.” This can be a powerful tool in encouraging students to participate in future discussions.
When students feel like a group, they are more likely to work together. However, if you have an odd number of students, someone will likely be left out. If this happens, try to draw that student into the discussion by asking their opinion.
For example, suppose you are discussing 7th grade language arts lesson plans, and you have an odd number of students. If there are six students in the group, one student will be left out. In this case, it would be prudent if you also sought the other student’s thoughts.
At the end of the discussion, it is important to summarize the main points of the discussion. When summarizing, you mustn’t tell the students what they should have learned. Instead, summarize what they did learn and ask if there were any questions or concerns. Teachers can also spruce up their lesson plans by referring to Adobe Education Exchange.