13 Rules for Effective Communication in the Classroom #8 - Demands


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http://createdforlearning.blogspot.com/2014/08/13-rules-for-effective-communication-in_14.htmlWhen people are in the infatuated dating stage before marriage, they are usually very polite and not very demanding. They ask nicely and use words like “Please” and “Thank you.” After the wedding day, many of them stop using those gracious phrases and start demanding things.
Unfortunately, we don’t get a dating phase with our students. While some of us do actually get to enjoy that stage where our students want to help with everything and our simple request is all it takes for them to leap into action, many of us feel like our students resist our every single request. And they might be.
No matter how bad their behavior may get, though, their disobedience (or slow obedience) does not give us permission to get impatient and break these rules. Remember, our goal is to “not provoke our students to anger,” and our demands invoke anger. So we must ask. And ask again.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t consequences for our student’s disobedience or defiance. Of course, there often must be. But we don’t have to make demands in order to present our student with a clear choice.
For example, it’s getting close to the end of the class period and the area around your student’s desk still isn’t cleaned. The demanding teacher might say, “This desk is a pig sty. That’s a metaphor. Get this cleaned up.” The asking teacher would say something like, “Is your desk dirty or clean?” Whether or not the kid actually answers, the teacher then says, “It looks pretty dirty still, so it needs to be cleaned up. And what is the rule again: what happens to desks that aren’t cleaned up? That’s right, *insert your classroom rule here*.
Another example, your school uses an online community like Edmodo (think Facebook for your classroom), and one of your darlings thinks it’s his new place to chatchatchat. Seriously, does this kid have any kind of filter? And does he ever log off and go outside? That’s right, he’s probably logged on his smart phone outside, awaiting any kind of school community interaction. Stupid comments. Silly comments. Hardly ever helpful. He = spam. Instead of demanding that he stop using Edmodo, we would walk him through some questions that get him to reveal what he thinks about his posting habits and how he might be making others feel. Then we ask him to stop. Ask, not tell. It’s hard because asking means he could say no. And he might. Then we get some more patience overnighted on Amazon Prime and ask again next time. Because asking shows respect.
Whatever patterns our classrooms decide, we must do our doggone best not to make demands during the follow-through. 

P.S. Just like with yelling, dangerous situations are the exception to the rule. If they’re in danger, by all means, command them to get out of harm’s way. Nuf said.


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These rules are adapted with permission from Roger and Becky Tirabassi's premarital workbook for seriously dating and engaged couples - The Seriously Dating or Engaged Workbook. Roger and Becky have also co-authored a book for married couples called Little Changes Big Results for Crazy, Busy Couples. The principles in these books have changed so many areas of our life. We highly recommend them.

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