How can 2 minutes a day for 10 days change your relationship with that one somewhat challenging student…Here’s how.
We’ve all had them – students who test our patience, coming to class every day with the intent to challenge us by disrupting the class or asking questions unrelated to the lesson. Some teachers ignore them, give up on them, and have learned to zone them out completely.
I, on the other hand, accept their challenge. In my years of teaching, I have discovered that the kids who intentionally disrupt and try to rattle the class are the ones who are seeking the most attention and more often than not, for understandable reasons. When you think about it, why do kids act out in and out of the classroom? They are demanding attention because they aren’t getting it where they yearn for it most – at home.
Authors Dr. Allen Mendler and Angela Watson suggest a concept called the 2 X 10 Strategy.
The concept upon which the 2×10 Strategy is based, is simple: spend two minutes a day with your student for ten days straight talking about anything they want. There is likely to be hesitation in the beginning but you can work through that as the days pass. The strategy aims to unravel the root of the behavior but more importantly, establish a connection between student and teacher.
I have recommended it to several teachers who were struggling to building positive interactions in their classes. As a teacher, it isn’t difficult to recognize which kids require intervention. For me, it was a student who looked for every opportunity to disrupt the class with jokes, raise their hand enthusiastically when I asked a question, only to ask if they could go to the bathroom. And when I let the disruptive behavior slide, it escalated into eye rolls, deep sighs, disrespectful responses and rudeness towards classmates.
I had a teacher share her amazement with me at just how effective this method was with a student whom she struggled to like. She commented in an email to me:
“Thank you for sharing the 2×10 strategy with me. I was skeptical about whether or not it would work, but decided to try with one of my students who was always trying to do the opposite of what I asked her to do. I discovered she was the oldest of 5 to a working mom who she rarely saw. She was responsible for cooking their meals, and she often got the smallest portions. This made me connect with her and see her in a new light.“
As the days went by she allowed the student to talk about anything she wanted, learning that the student loved crafts and aspired to be a fashion designer.
By the end of the ten days, she’d probably lost count of the days and the minutes. She told me,
“Moving forward, the student approached me every so often to tell me a quick story, and I was happy to listen, no longer timing our ‘sessions.’ Disruptions in class were limited to the occasional silly jokes but they were never mean-spirited.”
Other educators who have implemented the 2×10 Method have also noticed tremendous changes in their students. Many students went from staring vacantly at their teacher to making real eye contact during class. Although they still struggled somewhat with the lessons, they were now much more attentive and exhibited a renewed desire to learn.
The 2X10 Method shouldn’t be seen as a trick to get students to behave. It creates an opportunity to make a genuine connection with your students so you can understand why they do what they do and improve your relationship with them. Investing just two minutes a day to get to know your troubled student offers a venue for expressing him or herself. When students see this opportunity, they will often take it. Even the most challenging kids just want to be heard!
If you’re having trouble reaching your troubled students, the 2X10 Method will open doors that might otherwise remain closed.