How to avoid getting drawn into secondary behaviours and backchat

behaviour Jun 13, 2019

Whenever you have to issue a consequence to a student you will almost certainly provoke some eye rolling, muttering, complaining and other secondary behaviours. Don’t get drawn into these attempts to start an argument; it will escalate until either the student does something that will cause you more stress or you will explode and embarrass yourself. Either way you can’t win by arguing.

To prevent this, remember that the easiest way to prevent a fight is simply to deny the other person anyone to fight with. So, when you hear comments like, ‘It wasn’t me! Everyone else was talking! Why are you picking on me?’ you might find the following stock responses very useful:

  • You made your choice. Case closed.
  • If you want to talk more about this we can do it later. Come and see me after school – I’ll be in my room.
  • I don’t want to argue with you about this because it’s going to make us both look foolish and it’s going to stop everyone else from learning. If you want to talk more about it come and see me after the lesson; for now, get on with your work.
  • I can only deal with what I see, just like a football referee. Sorry, case closed.
Hot tip – As soon as you’ve given your response, walk away. Busy yourself with another student or some other task so that it’s clear you’re not going to enter into any more discussion.

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