Thursday, April 13, 2006

Comes Around / Goes Around

I'm part of a scholarship committee at school where we look at a list of candidates for various scholarships and pick a recipient. This past week the list included a person who is a BIG whiner in my class. Everything needs to be complained about. There's too much homework. It's too hard. I expect too much. I never help. Help me. Help me. Help me. ... Most of the time I'm pretty patient, though the other day I told this student that they complained too much, and they were "shocked", and said that it wasn't true. Hmmmm.

Well, this student's name came up for a scholarship. With a wee bit of hesitation, I mentioned the situation and also said that I didn't know if that should be a factor. There were also a handful of other kids on the list, all of whom were wonderful. Another teacher's reaction to my statement was, "yes, I've heard that a lot about this student". .... This student was not the recipient of the scholarship.

How does one distinguish between doing the kid a favor and telling them that their behavior is atrocious and just being "mean spirited" when telling the kid they're annoying? I mean, it's still a learning process to them. If no one tells them things are "wrong", then they'll just go on acting like they do because they don't know any better.


  1. Anonymous1:34 PM

    Sounds like dependency. Common in the math classroom. "How come it looks so easy when you do it?"
    Let's face it, the easiest way to accomplish a task is to have another do it for you. Students think the goal is to finish the assignment, not learn a skill. Do you let them know in advance the goal of the lesson?
    Don't give in. Think about the mom with the two year old who cries until she gets candy. The lesson she learned and comes to you with is that if she cries long enough, she gets her desired result.
    I usually go with the following story:
    A boy wants to learn about cars and buys an old one to fix up. Dad really wants to help, but always takes the wrench away and says, "here, let me show you." The student rolls his car across the street to the retired guy's house and works there. The old guy sits in his chair and listens to sports radio, every so often answering a question. Then I ask the students where they think the boy learns more?
    Too often in elementary/middle school the students are given one-step problems, so if they can't instantly visualise the solution, they give up. How's your pacing?

  2. Anonymous5:13 AM


    I do agree with your statements, and goodness knows I've had students like that, that whine and whine and whine and expect that you'll give in eventually (which I don't because as you say, that does them a disservice).

    This girl is just whiny about life in general and maybe is unaware that she comes across this way. She's annoying, so I have to work hard to keep the "love" in my manner as I deal with her.

    Ms. Cookie

  3. Anonymous1:38 PM

    I have a student like that too--I know from talking to other teachers that have her that her demenor is a "put-off" in other classes as well. I really have to struggle to maintain a good relationship with her (for the same reasons as you) but I have found being very direct (more so than I would typically be) about what bothers me about her behavior has made a difference. Her whinning must work somewhere with someone, but she knows by this time in the year it won't work in my room. (Not that it has necessarily ceased, but I would say it is better. And, I think she actually appreciates the honesty.)