You’ve heard about the dreaded power struggles in the classroom and want to know how to avoid power struggles with your students. In this post, we’ll delve into what power struggles are, why they occur, and most importantly, how you can avoid them in your interactions with students.
What Is a Power Struggle?
Before we dive into strategies for avoiding power struggles, let’s define what they are. According to Google, a power struggle is “a situation in which two or more people or groups compete for control.” In an educational setting, it often involves a student challenging your authority to see if they can gain control over the classroom.
Why Do Power Struggles Happen?
Power struggles can arise from various situations, but one of the most common triggers is when a student feels called out for their behavior in front of their peers. Or when a student feels like they have no control over the situation. When a student is being disruptive, and you address it publicly, they may interpret this as a challenge and attempt to regain control by challenging your authority.
How to Avoid Power Struggles With Your Students: Strategies
Now, let’s explore effective strategies for sidestepping power struggles in your classroom:
Ignore Until Later: When faced with disruptive behavior, avoid addressing it immediately in front of the class. Instead, wait until you can speak to the student privately, away from their peers.
Don’t Call Out a Student: Refrain from drawing attention to disruptive behavior unless it poses harm to the student or others. Calling out a student in front of their peers can escalate the situation.
Remain Calm and Neutral: When responding to disruptive behavior, maintain a calm and neutral demeanor. Avoid emotional reactions, and address the issue matter-of-factly. If necessary, step away and return when you’re composed.
Provide Choices: Whenever possible, offer students the opportunity to correct their behavior or face natural consequences. For instance, if a student refuses to do their work, provide the choice to complete it or receive a note home explaining the refusal.
Say It Once, Then Take Action: Avoid giving multiple warnings or negotiating with students. State the consequence clearly and enforce it promptly. This demonstrates that you are serious about maintaining a structured classroom environment.
Understanding the Root Cause: It’s essential to remember that students who engage in disruptive behavior typically have underlying reasons. Behavior is their way of communicating unmet needs or frustrations. It’s not about intentionally causing trouble or a reflection of your teaching abilities. It’s crucial to empathize and address the root cause when possible.
There are several effective ways to avoid power struggles with your students, including:
- ignoring disruptive behavior
- remaining calm and neutral
- offering choices
- enforcing consequences consistently
Understanding that behavior is a form of communication can help you approach these situations with empathy and avoid power struggles with your students.
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As always remember: