When I Win, I Win Big

There is a student in my class who, on the regular, adamantly refuses to say anything the teachers want him to. If you ask him to say please or sorry, good luck because you’re not going to get anywhere fast. My first major experience with attempting to force the student to do something was to apologize to another student for hitting him. That went over like a lead balloon.

Today was a slightly different story. We were making a craft of Abraham Lincoln and he was at the point where he needed black paper to make his beard (he was the first president to have a beard, in case you were wondering) and honestly I cannot remember what he was telling me but in essence he wanted black paper and I told him he needed to raise his hand and ask me nicely for it. The previous incident with apologizing somehow slipped my mind. He sat and told me he was finished with the previous step, that Abraham Lincoln had a beard, the the beard was black, and on and on without asking nicely for the paper. At this point I was in the trench and there was no way out but to stand my ground and not give in.

He stopped listing facts and excuses hoping I had maybe forgotten that he was supposed to ask nicely. I had not. I reminded him that if he wanted it he would have to ask me. His first mistake was letting me see him look toward the teacher who also had black paper. I told him, loudly enough that the teacher could hear, that she was not going to give him any paper unless he asked nicely for it. She must have heard me because she stayed clear of the conversation. Eventually, I squatted down next to him and said, “all you have to do is ask me, ‘may I have a piece of black paper.'” He did end up saying it. It took a few more minutes of prying to finally get it out of him.

When he did say it, I jumped up, handed him the paper, and exclaimed, “YES! I WOULD LOVE TO GIVE YOU A PEICE OF BLACK PAPER!” He laughed and I laughed. It was a small concession on his part but a huge win for me. Getting him to do even something small like that is a big win. I feel like I am finally making progress with him. It was a step in the right direction now if I could just get him to listen when it really matters!


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