Maybe it is just my school that seems to be this way. Especially as our students on the whole don’t experience life to this degree. But a significant number (enough to be bugging me and both my co-planning buddy and tandem partner) seem to have a severe case of the “yeah-buts” which kicks into gear every time they are asked to be accountable for their own behavioural choices.
It goes a bit like this.
Me: Could you go back to your seat and get on with the task?
Student: Yeah, but [insert student name here] is out of his seat too.
Me: Don’t worry about what they are up to. You need to worry about what you are doing. Come on, you’re distracting others.
Student: Yeah but you didn’t tell me what to do.
Me: You don’t need that – I gave out the criteria sheet for that task yesterday.
Student: Yeah but that must have been when I was out getting a drink.
Me: [frustrated tone starting to creep in] That’s not an acceptable reason. There was one put on every desk by [insert student monitor’s name here] just before lunch.
Student: Yeah but someone must have stolen it…
“Yeah but” is a code for “I’m going to start with a rhetorical acknowledgement that there is a small possibility that you as the classroom teacher may be correct, but in my twelve years of life on this earth I have yet to encounter a situation where I cannot successfully shift the blame / responsibility onto someone else or in a best case scenario, reflect back onto you.”
I’d consider that maybe the problem is my classroom management style or the fact that my classroom learning tasks are not engaging enough but that might just be playing into this small group of students’ mindsets.