All together now: whine!

The assignment was due Friday. I saw faces change while my words were still hanging in the air, and I knew the class was about to beg for the deadline to be extended to Monday. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t an option this time. Our inservice speaker the day before had offered a way to deal with student complaints, and I decided to give it a try.

“I know you’re not happy about this, but we have to make the best of a bad situation. I have one minute.” I pointedly looked at the clock on the wall and then smiled. “Let’s get the complaining out of the way. Go!”

It was quiet for a moment as they took this in. Then a student raised her hand and voiced a concern. “Thanks,” I said. “Who else?” Another student commented. “Thanks! Anyone else?” Long pause. “We still have 45 seconds. Who else wants to complain about this deadline?”

Someone asked, “You’re not going to change it, are you?”

“No, but I want to give you a moment to get it out of your systems. We still have some time.”

At this point the class jokester used his best whiny voice for some standard lines: “But we have other classes, too! There’s a big test in Chemistry on Thursday! This isn’t fair!” By the time he finished, others had joined in gleefully, seizing the spirit of the moment. The room was filled with babble for the remaining seconds. “I have to work! You don’t understand! This is too hard!”

“OK, that’s it – your minute is up. Now, let’s get down to business.”

Everyone grinned, and we got busy. Before the bell I quietly touched base with the first two students, and they were OK with the deadline by then.

Power struggle averted by a moment of “recess.”

Dr Olsen's Government Classroom 5May09 Photographer Danny Meyer

I’m participating in Kelly Hines’ Blogging Challenge. This is Day Ten.



One thought on “All together now: whine!

  1. I can really appreciate a post like this because it affirms the exact same thing I’ve been doing in my classes for over 20 years. I give the kids a minute because otherwise they would complain for the entire period. This really works!

    Paul Turtola

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