Dealing With Demanding Students

Throughout the school year, there will be students who are hurting and demand your attention. Sometimes, it is the same student who over and over again who brings things to your attention and expects you to solve their concerns. Given your position as a teacher or administrator, you need to respond. In addressing these concerns, consider the flowing advice given by The Center for Generational Studies.


Listen for the core issue ‑ Excited or demanding words can sometimes obscure the actual meaning of what the student is attempting to express. If you have heard the same or a similar concern over and over, it can be easy to categorize the person's need before hearing them out. Even if you are busy, it is best to let the person complete his or her thought before responding. Then attempt to paraphrase what you understand the person wants to be sure you're both on the same page.

Ask about the source of their information ‑ Sometimes the best way to regain control of the situation is to simply ask about the source of students' information. In many cases, it is hearsay based on another student's comments, parental advice or what the students consider common sense. When politely informed of the correct information or process, many will back down immediately. Those who remain insistent, have probably figured that they might be able to manipulate the system to their advantage. Simply wait for them to finish again and reiterate what you just told them.

Allow demanding students to "wind-down" ‑ Some demanding students simply need an audience or believe it is to their advantage to create one. Simply allow them to finish their bluster. Then wait a couple of seconds to allow their energy and momentum to dissipate. Finally, speak in a calm and measured tone when responding to their concern or request. Be careful not to make condescending or belittling remarks. It will only reignite their energy.

Get students to identify their specific desired outcome ‑ You might begin with the question, "Exactly what would you like to happen?" This encourages students to focus their requests and, at the same time, provide you with a clearer picture of how to resolve their concerns. For some, this may take some effort. Demanding students can sometimes be more bluster than substance. Once they've stated their desired outcomes, repeat it back to them to make sure they understand that you understand. Then provide them with a review of their options or the reasons why their requests can not be met.

Remain consistent throughout the encounter ‑ This can sometimes be the biggest obstacle. After all, they've had a lot more time to think about the encounter than you. You, however, control the pace. Impatient, demanding young students can sometimes be overwhelming in their intensity. Taking time to think before responding allows you to provide consistent information and forces the students to slow down their thought processes as well as their intensity.

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