The Kid Whisperer: How to stop arguing with high school students

Scott Ervin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Lifestyles

Dear Kid Whisperer,

I’m wondering if your approach works on high school students. I’ve taught for 20 years and have never dealt with the behavior, lateness, and general lack of concern for learning that I have seen post-hybrid. I need some help.

— Dawn, San Diego


What I teach is a great way to give all kids, no matter how old and/or obnoxious they are, a choice: They can use positive behaviors or learn a valuable lesson about using positive behaviors next time.

We don’t use anger, threats, bribes or warnings. We aren’t disrespectful and we aren’t weak. We are kind, firm and loving.


So, is striving to act in the aforementioned ways something you can do with high school students?

Well, without having explicit and systematically taught strategies and procedures on how to act like the person described above, I don’t think it’s possible! At least I certainly couldn’t do it!

Great teachers like you and perhaps a million other teachers like you are struggling with high school students because you have no real plan for preventing, mitigating and effectively responding to negative behaviors.

Why do you not have a plan? Because you were never taught a plan when you were learning to be a teacher.


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