When you start teaching you may think all the students are going to pay attention to everything you say. Thus, you prepare yourself to show the best of you. Although, not all the students are the way we think they are. This week, I have ‘taught’ some English lesson, based on the guidelines she told me are required to pass an exam. In case she fail the exam, she won’t be able to continue studying. So, I prepare the first topic that was related to conditionals; I have to say that I’ve got some experience in teaching this topic, as this is one of the most difficult for the students I’ve taught so far.
The previous night, I prepared my ‘class’ and I printed some sheets with explanation and exercises. I gave the extra mile to give the best of me. Nevertheless, when I arrived at her home she wasn’t there. Apparently, she forgot the class and arrived late. We couldn’t have a proper class at that day, so I had to leave. The following days, when I started giving an explanation about a topic she stopped me saying: No! No! I just want to know how do I have to use this structure and why. I calmly replied that it was as important to know the structure, but also as important to have a comprehension of each sentence; so that we had to have some basis. She wasn’t convinced at all and she didn’t pay much attention to my explanations.
The following class I started to use her own examples that were wrong in the exam she showed me. The first part wasn’t that complicated at all. She only had to change small things in the sentences. In most of the cases the answer could be obviated. Nevertheless, I realise that her poor performance in the exam wasn’t linked to her lack of knowledge, confidence or understanding. Every time I asked her for some grammatical structure she could answer, but when I wanted to explain something based on the structure she got upset. I figured out she didn’t like to receive commands or extra explanations. She found all this relevant information as useless and pointless to be reviewed.
As I said, some students may not be open to learn as we think. This girl, for example, thought she had to learn just the structures, but not the sentences. In other words, she wanted to apply a magical structure/rule covering every situation in her exam. Of course, there are many rules that can be applied for specific situations, but what would happen if the evaluator changes the order of the question? Or put some tricky questions? Today I prepared all the information in Spanish (let’s see if this works) with the explanation just focused on the topics she wants to review with some extra exercises.
At the end, I hope she passes her exam. What do you think? Have you ever had a difficult student? How did you handle the situation?