Lesson 67: Do Not Allow Students to Affect You with Their Words

Adolescents are not monsters. They are just people trying to learn how to make it among the adults in the world, who are probably not so sure themselves. (Virginia Satir)

Adolescents are considered hard to handle for me. I went to replace a class. Adolescents. Before I went in, I could imagine the coldness which they were going to show me. The scariest thing for us who are giving a lesson, is that unresponsive manner of the students. Imagine the emotionless faces in front of you when you were so excited to share your knowledge. That awkward feeling was like being poured cold water on your face.

As expected, all of them were being cold. No one would like to participate in the game so they were just looking at each other and waiting for others to go for it.

Thus I said, "Just give it a try!" Fortunately there were two volunteers who stepped out. They even helped to persuade their friends, "Come on! We can do better than this!"

Instead, all the other students remained seated. They folded their arms and were looking at me, as if they were telling me, "I am not going to work with you!" It was helpless but I knew they would complete the game if I insisted.

At that moment, one of the students said, "Coach, I feel bad for you." The other students who were sitting laughed out loud. What would you do if you were me?

If I were to encounter this situation few years back, I might just smiled, say nothing and ignored them. However, there were a few cases whereby the naughty students became worse by saying something even worse and acting more disrespectful.

Hence, I was thinking, "Shall I scold him?"

There was once when a student embarrassed Coach Hung but was scolded badly. Everyone tuned down and remained quiet after the scolding. However, bad impression stayed in their mind and causing arguments with the coach whenever they caught a chance.

Big no no. Scolding students is equivalent to destroying the relationship with them. I don't want that to happen before I could build the rapport with them.

Well, it is hard! Teaching them what is right and wrong but no scolding and we have to make friend with them. This is the headache that most of the teachers have, isn't it?

If you want to change a person's heart, first you must change the perception. (Joshua J)

I thought for a while and smiled, "You feel bad for me? How do you know that I feel bad? Actually I feel bad for you. Your friends are so positive but you do not appreciate this chance. You are supposed to feel bad, aren't you?"

As a result, he just smiled and did not say anything.

"Coach, I play." One of the students volunteered.

"Alright, let's start the game!"

Sometimes, we do not have to accept everything from the students' mouth, especially those who are mischievous or those who challenge you in purpose. Their mind work very fast, and very smart in using specific words to affect the emotions of other people. That student used the word "feel bad" on me which he intended to make people think that "coach will feel bad if we behave in this way".

However, the effect was different when the same word was used in a different situation.

They perceived it differently when the word "feel bad" was being used on them.

"We thought coach will feel bad when we are behaving in this way. But coach did not feel that way."

When your students know that you are not affected by them, they will not challenge you. 

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