I know, if you had a nickel for every time a student told you they “weren’t gonna do it” you would be retired in Maui right now. What’s a good response to this time honored student declaration? I think by now you probably know that “Oh yes you are!” is not always the most successful. Here’s a few others:
1. “What seems to be the problem?” – This, said in a curious tone (as if you completely did not expect the refusal) along with a helpful stance does wonders.
2. “Okay.” – Said with a nod and an inquisitive look (as if there must be more to the student’s statement that he is about to reveal) creates a nice awkward silence the student will try to fill.
3. “What do you think we should do?” is always another fun question to ask because it kicks the problem right back into the student’s hands.
In short I prefer to act as dumbfounded as possible about the thing they are refusing and stay as curious as possible about their possible reasons. This keeps me out of the power struggle.
What are some ways you’ve been successful staying out of battles with students?