How do I handle denial? I have several 5th grade students who deny their behavior. Even when I directly observe their Level A/B behaviors, they deny everything. I find this stops every conversation I try to have with them. It’s so frustrating! How can I guide students toward responsibility when they are in denial?
RESPONSE from a member of THE DWS MAILRING:
I’ve encountered this problem as well. Here are three ways that I deal with it:
1. During an after-class chat with these students, instead of saying “When you were throwing pens….”, I might say, “If someone was throwing pens during a lesson, what level would that behavior be at?” This way students aren’t directly confronted. Initially, I often get the response, “I wasn’t throwing pens.” Then I say “But, if someone was throwing pens, what would level would that be?” I can usually get them to take responsibility then.
Then I move on to “If someone was throwing pens and that’s at Level A/B, what could we do to fix it up?” (followed up by the usual DWS “What else?” responses if necessary.) Along the same lines, sometimes I’ll also use a response I heard about in this forum: “If you were the teacher and someone was throwing pens, what would you do?”
MOST ANY TEACHER USING THE DWS TEACHING MODEL CAN DO THIS EFFECTIVELY.
2. In a private meeting with the student, role play (act out) the behavior yourself. I use facial expressions, tone of voice, physical actions etc. I say, “This is what I saw during our lesson today, from some (or one) of the students in our class.” I ask the student to identify the level of the behavior and continue from there. ONLY SOME TEACHERS WILL BE ABLE TO DO THIS. Some might find it too “childish,” but in my experience students usually laugh or crack a smile. I take this as a sign that they understand that I am mirroring their behavior and that they “get it.”
3. If the class is used to classroom meetings, I bring the matter up there and ask students for possible solutions. ONLY THOSE TEAHCERS
ALREADY USING CLASS MEETINGS SHOULD TRY THIS ONE. I’ve learned from experience that it’s better not to focus class meetings on negative student behavior too frequently and certainly not within the first weeks of establishing this routine.
I hope some of this helps you.