‘Students who have a sense of real responsibility are less likely to strive for power in destructive ways.’
– Dr. Linda Albert
One strategy for helping power/revenge seeking behavior students to become allies instead of remaining emotional/psychological enemies towards you and your desire to instruct is to consider how you can have them help you within the classroom environment. One principle of prevention for power seeking behavior is to delegate responsibility and for revenge seeking behavior is to build caring relationships. I know you’re thinking, ‘Why would I want to give responsibility to students within my room who challenge my authority, disregard my directives and reasonable requests to cooperate and participate, or create disorder and dysfunction within my classroom?’ As one who started as a hands-on instructor when I started teaching in 1992, I understand, believe me. I used to pass out all the portfolios, art materials, and told the students they had to wait until I passed out everything before they could get started (whew!). Even if, as a student, you knew what you needed to do, you had to wait for me to pass out everything in order to get started.
At the core of delegating responsibility, or the principle of ‘love more, do less,’ is both the teacher-student learning to extend-and demonstrate responsibility that facilitates the hands-joined style of classroom management Cooperative Discipline promotes. It takes courage, trust, and patience on the part of the classroom teacher to apply this principle, but the results are worth the risk!
The ‘love more, do less’ principle challenges the classroom teacher to consider what they do in planning/preparation and during instruction/closing that can be turned over to the students to do that would allow them to feel like they are making a real contribution to the classroom community. By doing this they, in turn, would feel more connected to the environment as a positive, productive contributor.
True story: I had a student, early in my career, who would ask everyday, ‘Mr. Jones can I help you.’ Watching as I would wrestle with passing out 20-30 portfolios at the beginning of every class period. In my mind I thought to myself, ‘I don’t trust you. No you cannot help me.’ Eventually, one day, I pulled the students aside and apologized to them expressing sincerely my negative perception of them that would not allow me to allow him to help me. I no longer pass out portfolios:) Since returning to the classroom 4 years ago in the fall of 2010, I can see how much I have grown and matured as a professional and the better my students and I are for it!
May God bless you and help you to identify practical ways for you to delegate responsibility and build caring relationships to promote student self-efficacy and influence them to become positive, productive contributors to the classroom community.