I have a student whom I find very challenging this year. Impulsive and disruptive, she has a genius for turning the focus of the class away from what I've planned and onto her. She's difficult to manage, partly because the other students are so willing to engage with her. The other day, she refused to move into her small discussion group. "What are you doing?" I asked her. "You talk all the time when you're not supposed to, and now that it's time to talk, you won't. Help me understand this."
She threw herself to the floor and sighed. "Nobody likes me," she said. "I don't want to talk to them."
"What do you mean?" I replied. "The kids in here like you."
"No they don't. They think I'm annoying. Watch!" And just like that, she flipped the attention of the class as she stood and queried every student in turn in her booming voice. "Do you think I'm annoying?"
To be honest, I sort of ceded control of the class, because their reactions were pretty hilarious. Most were like, yeah, duh, of course you're annoying, although a few kids tried to be kind, and one pantomimed locking her lips and throwing away the key. It's a small class, and she got through her survey quickly and then turned to me in a so there stance.
"That doesn't mean anything," I told her. "Watch this: Hayley, do you think I'm annoying?" I asked.
She looked at me and shrugged. "Yeah, sometimes," she said.
"Kaelan, do you think I'm annoying?" I asked another student.
"Mm hmm," he nodded."Especially when you make us get organized."
"But, do you like me?" I asked them.
"Of course," they both said. "Everybody's annoying sometimes."
"What about this one?" I pointed to the kid standing next to me. "Do you like her?"
Their affection for her was unanimous, and so I told her to get over to her group and get to work.