Teachers come across all different types of students. Some students feel they cannot handle the work because it is too difficult for them. Others feel the work is too easy. Some students, for a variety of reasons, just don’t even try. Occasionally, teachers will come across one type of student they may not have expected. This is the student who feels they do not have to do the work because they feel a sense of entitlement. Similarly, some students feel they deserve an extra treat or reward when they seemingly haven’t earned it. When this happens, a teacher must think quickly to address the problem and modify the student’s behavior.
In the case of a Gifted and Talented elementary school class, some students might feel that they can rest upon their own laurels. They might present themselves with an air of superiority. They must remember that it is their continued success, along with maturity, that will allow them to remain in this class. If professionalism and maturity are lacking, then all the academic qualifications will suffer as a result. They must treat their teachers and classmates with respect and dignity in order to maintain their status in a G&T class.
In looking at a general education elementary school class, you might have a child who contributes nothing all day, does not listen and as a result asks you often to repeat yourself. In the case of first or second graders, many of them speak very softly and often mumble their words or look away or down when they talk to you. One of these students might feel they deserve a reward (such as a pencil from the teacher’s private collection), at the end of the day. They have nothing to base it on other than they simply feel they should get one. It is a difficult task for the teacher to tell this student that they didn’t earn it. Conveying the concept of doing good work, listening and participating is what will generate rewards being given out, not simply handing them out at the whim of the students.
There is yet another instance that might result in a sense of entitlement upon the part of a student. Sometimes you might have a substitute that is working for the day in a bilingual classroom. In a case such as this, the substitute might not speak the native language of the students and there may be one or two students who do not speak English. In this case, it is up to some of the students to translate. This is a big task for students, although not impossible. As the day progresses, you might notice that the “translators” in the class might be sitting and talking, coloring, playing games or doing almost anything other than the work at hand. These students feel a sense of entitlement since they translated the instructions from the teacher. They feel they are now exempt from the real work since they played a role in helping someone else to understand what is being said. This is a tricky case, since the teacher needs those people to translate yet they are clearly taking advantage of what is already a poor situation. The teacher must remain tactful yet firm in being thankful for translating, but insist that all the students in class still need to do the work at hand.
In all, dealing with students who feel they do not have to do the work or feel they deserve a reward for no reason requires a teacher who can react quickly, maintain decorum and set the ground rules for everyone in the class.