It is so rewarding when the toughest students to teach just ‘get it’ for the first time.
I did a little cheer that day. A cheer for myself. A cheer for the rest of the class who were willing and wanting to learn. A cheer for the child who learned to listen. For the child who stopped yawning at me, punching anyone who was nearby and interrupting the class every 5 seconds.
Ignore the bad; laying down. Reward the good; following a direction. Ignore the bad; spinning instead of standing still. Reward the good; looking at me when I am talking. Ignore the bad; talking to himself. Reward the good; “I loved how you tried to do those kicks.”
However, I refuse to be disrespected in my house. We did push ups for yawning and push ups for rolling our eyes. I got between other students and him when it was needed.
Be reliable. Reward effort and good behaviors. Be consistent. Turn the tables.
I had a moment of brilliance midway through class though. He was simply being himself, a distraction machine, an energy sucker, a master manipulator.
“Everyone come on over.” I said. “Wow, you guys are amazing!”
I looked at this incredible kid who silently screamed, “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!” every moment of every day. I told him, “Thank you. Thank you so much for trying to distract everyone like that. You were amazing. Awesome job!”
Then I looked at the rest of the class and said, “You guys were awesome too, the way that you ignored him, even when he was right next to you. Nice job!”
I tried to trick him by praising his bad behavior as a benefit to the rest of the class. I didn’t think it had worked. But he came to class the next time and listened.
I gave him a pep talk at the beginning of class, “Do you know what you need to do to be successful today?”
I waited for him to make eye contact with me, “You just have to do your best.”
Victory, for the day.