|I've created the Dear Barbara column as a way for subs to get answers to questions about any subbing topic or suggestions that may help you solve a specific problem in substitute teaching.
If you'd like to submit a question, please click here and be sure to include your name and home town. Answers to the best questions will be published here.
How should I handle a student who demands my attention?
Last week I subbed in a fifth grade classroom with one young man who was sooo needy! I found myself neglecting others because I had to spend so much time with Zachary. After a while, it was obvious that he was manipulating me. What should I do when this situation happens in the future?
Pamela, St. Louis, MO
We're all familiar with students like Zachary. There are countless reasons that students demonstrate manipulative behavior. Here are a few:
1. Problems at home will cause a child to be needy. When the parents are too strict and expect too much, children cling to a kind, understanding teacher.
2. Students who are picked on by their peers become dependent upon the teacher for attention and sometimes protection.
3. When the academics become too difficult, a student may panic for fear of failure.
4. Social immaturity is often a cause. There are some children and adults who simply lack social skills.
How can you gently change needy behavior? Remember, you must not overtly reject this student, or he/she may become even more needy. Be sure to spend some time with the student during down time. Enter into a conversation and show interest. Then, when you must focus on the rest of the class, remind him/ her that we spoke earlier, but now you need to help Alexis. Thank him for his understanding. You may never satisfy Zach, but you can manage him.
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