One of the most helpful pieces of advice I have been given came from a training for Chewonki Girls Camp canoe trip. We had set up camp one misty late afternoon, and our trainer sat us all down. She invited us, when considering camper behavior, to be curious, not critical.
Today, when I found myself getting annoyed with a student, She’s complaining she didn’t have enough time to work and yet she’s STILL not using the time she has, I reframed, I wonder why she’s not using this time even though she’s clearly stressed about it being done. While the criticism and blame was narrowing, leading me towards exasperation, the question opened my mind up to possibilities. Perhaps she was overwhelmed with frustration and gave up. Perhaps she didn’t think she could get enough done during the time left to make it worth it. Considering these different angles both gave me access to some empathy (It IS really frustrating when you can’t get your work done and want to), and helped me think about how I could most effectively prompt her to get back on track. I also was later able to ask her advisor for more context, and it helped me better understand her reaction.
The next time you find yourself getting frustrated with a student, what happens if you reframe your concern as a question? Be really curious about why they might be acting cray cray. You might even start by asking them what’s up. Their answer may surprise you.