I’ve been hearing lately about people dealing with the student from hell.
You know the one …
- constantly complaining
- wants to be handheld
- posts or emails way too much
- wants more and more of you
- can’t say a nice thing
This is typical of any classroom and course, and as teachers we need to deal with it.
Lay down the law but first consider these steps.
- First, acknowledge her/him and the problem(s)
- Second, try to find a solution together that satisfies or helps her/him
- Third, if s/he keeps coming back for more direction/advice/problem solving/complaint dumping, then redirect them
Your students are your customers
This is the deal: Though they are your ‘students’, you can’t treat them in a traditional way by reprimanding them, being condescending, or giving them detention (would be nice, though).
In the entrepreneurial world, your learners have bought you course with certain expectations and they want to be served.
However, as the teacher you are still in control of your course.
Handling Students From Hell
- Dig deeper into their complaints, comments or inquires by asking them how they are feeling. Chances are they are feeling vulnerable because they are learning something new and in a new way. Humans don’t like to change and some less than others (aka growing pains).
- In this case, calm their worries, reassure them they are going to be okay and they are doing well.
- Or, help them get to that point by clarifying or showing how to do something. Only do this once and be clear that this won’t be happening weekly. Be slower to respond to them next time.
- Maybe there are issues with your course, such as unclear content or instructions, technical problems or unrealistic expectations on their part to complete the work
- Good teachers adjust on the fly by amending content, changing assignments, adding more instructions, and informing the class.
- Perhaps, they are merely a chronic complainer and typically act like this regardless of the situation. In this case, you have a miserable person on your hands who wants to have their way.
- Lay down the law, once you determine this is the situation, and explain (or revisit) what you will and won’t be doing as the teacher in the course. They cannot expect more than that, especially if it is made clear in the beginning – ensure to provide this information right up front.
- If they still don’t subside with their interruptions, offer them a refund and send them on their way.
Check In With Yourself
Unfortunately, students from hell will consume your time, energy and sanity. This happens as teachers are caring people and concerned about others. We are human.
The trick is to head this off at the pass as soon as possible so your teaching flow is not disrupted, the class is not tainted, and students are not negatively affected by these people.
Quick steps: Inquire, respond, help, set boundaries, and stop it.
Your actions as a leader in this situation will be well received and respected by others.
And maybe by the student from hell as well.