Obstinate student w/ disability

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busys:
I have a student who is hard of hearing (not deaf) and wears hearing aids. He said that he likes to sit in the front of the class, and I offered to make sure there was a seat there for him, but apparently he actually prefers to sit in the back, by the door, so that he can get up and leave the room approximately 3 or 4 times a class (2 hours, I give one 10 minute break in the middle).  This is disruptive because when he comes back he often acts as if class has not progressed from where it was when he left and will try to go back to whatever we were talking about before he disappeared. When I say “We’re onto another topic now” or whatever, he reacts as though I am being rude and shutting him down (I see rolling eyes).

He also will often repeat the exact same point I just made, as if I did not make it (I have assumed this is a hearing problem), garnering weird looks from the class. I feel bad about saying “Yeah, I literally just said that” so I usually just direct the conversation onward, so I don’t call specific attention to his disability.  Recently (in the last week or so), he has decided to let his politically (very conservative) flag fly in class which has also seemed to turn his classmates against him. While we talk about the political sphere, I always make it clear we need to leave our personal opinions out of it, unless specifically called for.  He’s tried to steer discussion to more inflammatory things several times and I have tried to gently couch whatever he’s saying into the terms of discussion so he doesn’t feel like I am totally maligning his viewpoint; this week he totally disregarded my re-direct (again, I assumed a hearing problem?) leading one of his classmates to quietly say, “This isn’t a political debate” (they don’t sit anywhere near each other—this becomes important later). 

Today he completely misinterpreted the instructions of a group activity (he was out of the room, again, when I gave the instructions, though I always walk around and try to make sure that each group understands the task individually). When I said that to him, he said “I guess I didn’t HEAR you say those things,” obviously hinting toward his disability. At the end of class, he was making a point and used a famous quote which he attributed to the wrong person; I said “Well I think that was _____ who actually said that,” to which he responded “I thought this wasn’t a political debate” (obviously referencing the not-nearby classmate who said that to him).

So, I’m uncertain what to think about his disability now; it’s been verified by the college so I know he is not making it up, but I've been more gentle with him than I otherwise would be because I didn't want to draw undo attn to the disability. I obviously need to speak with him, but since he seems to become agitated by my gentle approach in front of the class, I’m not really sure of the approach to take when I pull him aside after class. Thoughts?

proftowanda:
Quote from: busys on February 27, 2013,  6:08:54 PM

I have a student who is hard of hearing (not deaf) and wears hearing aids. He said that he likes to sit in the front of the class, and I offered to make sure there was a seat there for him, but apparently he actually prefers to sit in the back, by the door, so that he can get up and leave the room approximately 3 or 4 times a class (2 hours, I give one 10 minute break in the middle).  This is disruptive because when he comes back he often acts as if class has not progressed from where it was when he left and will try to go back to whatever we were talking about before he disappeared. When I say “We’re onto another topic now” or whatever, he reacts as though I am being rude and shutting him down (I see rolling eyes).

He also will often repeat the exact same point I just made, as if I did not make it (I have assumed this is a hearing problem), garnering weird looks from the class. I feel bad about saying “Yeah, I literally just said that” so I usually just direct the conversation onward, so I don’t call specific attention to his disability.  Recently (in the last week or so), he has decided to let his politically (very conservative) flag fly in class which has also seemed to turn his classmates against him. While we talk about the political sphere, I always make it clear we need to leave our personal opinions out of it, unless specifically called for.  He’s tried to steer discussion to more inflammatory things several times and I have tried to gently couch whatever he’s saying into the terms of discussion so he doesn’t feel like I am totally maligning his viewpoint; this week he totally disregarded my re-direct (again, I assumed a hearing problem?) leading one of his classmates to quietly say, “This isn’t a political debate” (they don’t sit anywhere near each other—this becomes important later). 

Today he completely misinterpreted the instructions of a group activity (he was out of the room, again, when I gave the instructions, though I always walk around and try to make sure that each group understands the task individually). When I said that to him, he said “I guess I didn’t HEAR you say those things,” obviously hinting toward his disability. At the end of class, he was making a point and used a famous quote which he attributed to the wrong person; I said “Well I think that was _____ who actually said that,” to which he responded “I thought this wasn’t a political debate” (obviously referencing the not-nearby classmate who said that to him).

So, I’m uncertain what to think about his disability now; it’s been verified by the college so I know he is not making it up, but I've been more gentle with him than I otherwise would be because I didn't want to draw undo attn to the disability. I obviously need to speak with him, but since he seems to become agitated by my gentle approach in front of the class, I’m not really sure of the approach to take when I pull him aside after class. Thoughts?



Focus on minimizing the physical disruption, first.  I have had many students with accommodations for disabilities -- and, as it happens at my campus, which "specializes" in students with audial disabilities, I have had many with hearing difficulties.

Not a one of them ever has had an accommodation to come and go from class, at will.  Not a one.

I have had students with disabilities who try to get away with actions that are not related.  I stop that.

I have had students without disabilities who try coming and going form the classroom.  I definitely stop that.

So, stop this student from disrupting the class in that way, for starters.  And when you have taken control of your classroom in that way, you may find it stops other disruptive behaviors.  If not, stop those, too.

fishbrains:
A couple of semesters ago, I had a deaf student who would completely ignore the sign-language interpreter--who cost my CC a LOT of money--during class and expected me to spend the last 15-20 minutes of class giving her individual instructions for her assignments. After the 3rd time (I was kind of a slow learner there), I told her that she was being a total jerk, and that if she was going to show such disrespect toward two people trying to help her (me and the interpreter) that she should find something else to do with her life. I'm not sure how the interpreter translated "jerk," but it got the student's attention. The student even managed to pass the class.

In short, just like the rest of us, people with disabilities can be a$$holes at times. Play within the rules, but don't let them push you around--which is pretty much what proftowanda said. Good luck with this.

prytania3:
I had that student. He ended up failing.

mickeymantle:
I've had my share of experiences with disabled students--not so much about their certification, but with their providing me with forms in a timely manner, and even with their showing up for examinations at the accommodations room.  Very irritating at times.  

But, as with any obstinate students, you need to show that you're not a pushover. I've had one (non-disabled) student leaving my classroom constantly this semester, and I finally clamped down.

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