How To Handle Entitled Students

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Charming, stylish, and often athletically talented, entitled students believe they’re special and not subject to the same boundaries and expectations as others.

Thus, they skirt the rules. They do less work. They speak and move as if princely treatment is their royal birthright.

And nobody calls them on it.

Either out of fear or swooning enthrallment, the teachers, administrators, and coaches in their life give them a free pass.

“I got you, Anthony.”

“No problem, Chloe.”

“That’s good enough for me.”

It’s terrible for them. One day the piper will come calling requiring skill, discipline, and hard work and they’ll have none of these. In the end, they pay. And they pay dearly.

But you can put a stop to it. You can be the one person who sees through the charade and cares enough to say, “No more. It ends with me.”

Yes, it can be hard.

We all like special treatment and will fight like hyenas to hang on to it. You will get pushback. You will get hateful looks and disrespect. You will get storming off and under-the-breath comments.

But this can be mitigated with a few guidelines.

1. Do it from the start.

When you commit to your classroom management plan and the sky-high expectations you have for your class ahead of time, it’s much easier than to go back and reinvent or reassert yourself.

Promise to follow through for all students from day one, damn the torpedoes, and everything becomes much easier.

2. Don’t talk to them personally.

If you want entitled students to begin acting like everyone else, then you need to treat them like everyone else. Don’t explain yourself to them. Don’t pull them aside for special talks.

Just be a person of your word, and they’ll eventually respect and admire you for it. Plus, it will send the message to your class that you don’t play favorites.

3. Don’t respond to their charms.

They’ll act angry for awhile and when that doesn’t work they’ll lay on the charm. You must resist. Smiling is fine, but don’t say much when they begin to justify, cajole, and plead.

Say you understand—as in, you understand what they’re saying—but then stick to your resolve. Tell them that all students deserve to be treated fairly.

4. Follow through boldly.

Being a good teacher in this day and age takes mental toughness. Digging deep into your fortitude during challenging moments throughout the day pays big dividends.

It brings peace to your classroom and relieves a sea of stress. So be bold. If an entitled student breaks a rule, enforce without hesitation. Let them and your class know that you mean what you say.

5. Say hello.

Let those students who have been misled into entitlement know that you never hold a grudge. You never take their misdeeds personally—because you understand where it comes from.

Say hello and be friendly. Ask how they are. But stay the coarse. They’ll begin to see that it’s you, the one they hated in the beginning, who truly cares.

Sold a Lie

Treating some students differently because of their personality or athletic ability or any other reason is discriminatory. Plain and simple.

They don’t get that, however, not at first anyway. How could being given special privileges be discriminatory? Because it denies them the benefits of a good education. It denies them the habits of hard work and responsibility.

It denies them healthy humility and the skills they need to compete and excel in the future.

So many of these students find out too late that their entitlement doesn’t last beyond eighth grade or high school, and they can’t handle it. They’re unprepared for it.

They can’t face the prospect of an entry level job. They can’t handle the mountainous work it takes to turn their lives around. They’ve been sold a lie.

And the piper has arrived for his payment.

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