How do you teach those irritating students?

We all have students who we enjoy teaching…

You know the ones I mean, right?

There are certain students who simply try their best every time, pick up things quickly and do it well without a complaint. I love to teach karate to students like this who are enthusiastic to learn!

Then there are those students who for whatever reason grate on our nerves. These are the ones who are easily distracted, don’t listen very well (if at all), have sloppy technique no matter how many times we correct them, guide them and help them, and it’s questionable whether they actually want to be in class.

However as professional instructors it’s important that we are able to effectively teach the good, the bad and those who lie in between.

So the other night I realized that every time I walked past one of my students who fits in to the first group, I found I was in a good mood and enjoyed helping him.

Conversely every time I passed one particular student who is the leader of the second group mentioned above, I found my physiology changing. Immediately I noticed I was less friendly, more stern and more easily frustrated when he’d make the same mistake we’ve been working on fixing for months now.

When I realized this I immediately wanted to correct that issue and give my troubled student the same good vibes as my talented student. I made a conscious decision that every time I approached the difficult student that I would pretend he was my model student, thus changing the way I reacted to his lack of focus, and found I was more enthusiastic in the way I helped him.

This in turn changed his physiology, his enthusiasm and willingness to try harder.

The result?

Well, sure not everything is perfect with his form yet. And I certainly wasn’t perfect in they way I taught either, as I could still feel that underlying, nagging feeling of aggravation when I’d see him making the same mistakes.

But it was far easier to WANT to help him than previously. And he was more receptive and felt better about himself as class continued.

So I throw this idea out there to you…

Next time you’re teaching a student who is getting on your nerves, think of him or her as one who you love to teach. Change your approach and you’ll most certainly change the results – for both of you.

Until next time,

– Jason

4 thoughts on “How do you teach those irritating students?”

  1. Jason, You are a good person for having this blog.. I do like reading your materials. I am only a student myself. A Red Belt. I have recently started teaching the colored belts in preparation for my Black Belt. I think of everyone as my Grand Parents. They sometimes listen sometimes not. I try my best to treat everyone with respect as I want to be treated. Sometimes I have had the occasional student not listening. I then ask them after class if they really want to be there. Many times just the quick question changes them I let them know if the want to be there then show me and I work exceptionally more with them until they resolve whatever issue was going on. I know every class not every one will be at 100% I never am. I feel if I show respect to everyone the same I have always received the same respect back. Well sorry for the long post. Keep up all the good work….

  2. Some of my best Students were once some of my worst Students ~

    Secret?…Perseverance & Praise.

    Frustrating..? Yeah

    Aggravating..? Oh yeah

    But a mixture of perseverance & praise

    works wonders.

    Another method I have used in

    conjuction with the above

    successfully is to give

    them responsibilty to teach

    something simple to a new Student.

    Before long you will see the

    cantankerous caterpillar morph

    into a well behaved butterfly.

    Richard Holdstock ~ Sensei

    Goju Ryu Bushido Karate Academy

    Blacktown City NSW Australia

  3. I love this piece. It reminds me of a man I know.He was a professor that practiced something similar. All he did was an experiment for a few years that changed his students and his outlook on his teaching. he stood at the door while greeting his students thought of how much he cared and loved each student as they passed, thinking only on the positive that he had for that student as they passed.

    Later this professor’s son moved out and was far from home and ran across a thuggish fellow. When they crossed paths they exchanged names and this man he crossed paths with remarked how he had a professor in college with the same last name. He stated that he knew that this professor loved him and his students without the professor ever stating it. This knowledge helped this hardened young man to complete college.

    The point in it is this: we do not know the impact just our attitude can have for our students. The younger ones can tell so much more if we have a negative attitude for them even if we try not to express it. I know I struggle with this very item and those that i struggle most with it happen to be my own boys.

    I know this article was written a while back but I enjoy reading all the posts in this blog. Thank you for writing them.

    Funakoshi Karate International of Arizona

  4. Great story Joe. Everybody just wants to feel significant and not irrelevant. Making each student feel part of the dojo is key to student development, student retention and overall success for everyone involved…

    Thanks for your input!


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