If you want to create change in others, it's important to recognise how to go about it. I recall a student who, after repeated requests, refused to comply with an instruction. His simple answer was "if you want a different answer, you need to ask a different question". Now while that might seem rude and (for some) unacceptable, at least he was giving his teacher an opportunity to gain an outcome which didn't prolong the confrontation. Is that the solution?

I know some of you will roll your eyes to the ceiling and set your pencil alight with the heat of your fury. But what are these games that we play with our hard-to-teach students at college? Here's a script plus the subliminal message:

Teacher "I knew you'd forget your pen/boots/manners (I'm the winner)."

Student "I didn't forget it, I didn't think I'd need it today (No, you're not)."

Teacher "You can clear off to the library because you can't come without it (Yes I am, I'm bigger than you)."

Student "Go **** yourself (You ain't going to break me down I know my rights)"

(Enter stage left, a hefty security man waving the Code of Conduct..........).  Do you recognise the script?

There are examples of escalations to the conflict cycle in countless classrooms. If you take these skirmishes personally it will show. More importantly, you'll have exposed your buttons of importance and they'll be poked and pressed until you beg for mercy. Re-write the script.

When you pay no attention to the students' attempts to deflect you from the teaching and learning (offer a spare pen/boots), and after you've dusted down your ego enough to ignore the attention seeking behaviour, who's the winner? I think it's both of you.