23-Engage the Enraged…here’s what you do with those Kids that Keep you Up at Night

Enduring a meal with an obnoxious co-worker, relative, or acquaintance is painful…but it’s just one meal. Imagine an adolescent version of this person striding into your class. Now, you’re confronted with the daily drudgery of interacting with a very biased kid who’s quick to profess his bizarre theories. Most importantly, his captive audience…the remainder of your students, will be subjected to his monologues too.


But your new student isn’t your crazy uncle. You simply MUST engage him. That’s your job. This obligation may seem distasteful, but flip your paradigm and embrace this as an amazing learning opportunity. This difficult student will be your teacher. He’ll expose your biases, your triggers, your limited perspectives. He’ll engage your empathy, your objectivity, and your fair-mindedness.

Your mantra moving forward is: I’m going to bond with this kid.

  • Try engaging him in casual conversation about non-controversial topics
  • Try engaging him by smiling frequently
  • Try engaging him by greeting him warmly…whenever possible
  • Try engaging him by complimenting him when he’s deserving
  • Try engaging him by taking an interest in what he does outside of school
  • Try engaging him by helping him express himself in more effective and succinct ways
  • Try engaging him by keeping your cool when he spouts something disgusting

If you’re able to engage this problem child, benefits will abound:

  • Archie Jr. will succeed academically
  • Archie Jr. will succeed socially
  • You will confront your biases
  • You will become more empathetic

Episode Template

The Problem:

Some problem kids can wreck a classroom atmosphere.

The Solution:

Embrace the challenge of bonding with this kid.

What You Can Do Tomorrow?

  • List attitudes or dispositions you detest.
  • Find difficult students on your roster.
  • Practice holding your tongue.
  • Produce some empathy.

Embrace the mantra, I’m going to engage with this kid. Make this engagement mantra materialize by creating a list of strategies you’ll implement, particularly the next time your problem child bellows one of his or her conspiracy theories. See the list above for ideas. Just remember, the focus is to bond, not to pound your chest and put the kid in their place.

Listen to this episode for more detail: