Sugar and spice and all things nice, that’s what little girls are made of… right?
Well, the experience I had last night would suggest otherwise…
Since I began teaching almost 18 years ago I’ve run across my fair share of students who were:
- badly behaved
- strong willed
And rarely have I had a situation where I haven’t been able to pull them in line within half a class or so. But last night I had a student, a young female student (which was even more surprising) who displayed ALL of these qualities and more…
Little Jacklyn arrived for class early, and while her mom filled out the paperwork, the 7 year old terror ran onto the tatami and starting causing havoc, throwing balls, screaming, and shouting at other kids.
Man, this was going to be a challenge.
“Yame!”, I shouted.
All the kids stopped and looked. “Ok, you guys, please put the balls away and line up for class!”
14 kids immediately ran into position, while Jacklyn continued doing what she was doing… running, throwing balls and being obnoxious.
I asked her to line up, showed her where to stand and gently led her to that spot.
Within 3 seconds she’d moved, and started messing around again. I went back and reset her in her position.
2 seconds later, she was back to her same tricks.
Yikes! Class hadn’t even begun.
I got down to her level and kindly explained that’s not how we behave in class. I let her know that when I ask her to do something, she needs to do it quietly. As I was about to ask her if she understood, she gave me the thousand mile stare, completely distracted like there were 100 cars, trains and buses rushing through her mind. Jacklyn then blinked so hard I thought her face might fold in half.
To cut a long story short, within a few minutes of class beginning Jacklyn was placed in “time out” for misbehaving. Less than 1 minute later she threw a fit in the corner, crying, kicking, screaming at which point I picked her up and escorted her out of class to her mother.
Wow! Only twice before have I had a kid throw a tantrum like that but never has this happened with a child during their very first lesson.
Now why am I telling you this? I’m sure you’ve had kids act out in class too.
The reason is this… years ago I thought it would be a good idea to run an introductory program. A few classes where the prospective student is on probation. If they follow the rules, try their best and not disrupt the class, they pass the test and are welcomed to join as a full member. If they don’t, we part ways. There’s no hard feelings, it’s just karate at my dojo isn’t going to be the best thing for them.
Some people will argue, “Well, this is EXACTLY why she needs karate. To discipline her!“
My counter argument is this…
After a few lessons if the student can’t follow basic rules, be courteous and respectful then the problem lies far deeper than the level at which karate can help.
Discipline starts at home.
There’s only so much we can do 2-3 hours per week in karate to combat the other days of unregulated behavior. For me I see our jobs as karate instructors to teach karate. Disciplining students is PART of the program, not THE program.
I explained to Jacklyn’s mother that maybe she had a rough day (we all have those, right?) and gave her the benefit of the doubt. I also told her that she’s welcome to try again another time.
However, I also explained what had happened and the reason for the expulsion was for bad behavior, talking over me, ignoring instructions, etc. And that she might like to reinforce those things again before Jacklyn try class again. Because I can’t TEACH her anything until that happens.
I really hope this little girl gets the help she needs because if yesterday was anything typical of her regular behavior, this kid is on a train with a one way ticket to disaster.
In the 10 minutes she was in class, NONE of the other students received ANY attention. For me helping 14 students achieve their goals takes precedence over one. This is the exact reason for the intro program – to see if it’s going to work out for everybody concerned.
Do you run an intro program? If not, it might be something you’d like to consider…