How to Deal with a Smart Aleck in Class Part 1
This is a standard mathematical statement used in algebra problems. It seems innocuous enough to write on the board or use in an exam. Until the smart aleck pounces!
“Here it is, duh?”
What’s the difference between nouns and pronouns?
After a successful lesson in grammar, students will definitely differentiate the two correctly. Until the smart aleck attacks!
“Obviously they have different spellings.”
A smart aleck in class can tear apart a newbie teacher who has not seen much of the various personalities of the classroom and is not equipped to deal with traps. A smart aleck can also intimidate the more experienced teachers and lead them to tears—or rage!
Dealing with a smart alecky student is a delicate business. For one thing, smart alecks make the class laugh, and you don’t want to get on the bad side of an amused group of students mercifully waken from stupor. On the other hand, some witty remarks end up embarrassing you or disrupting the lesson altogether. So what’s the right approach? If you have a student who falls under this genus, or you want to be prepared for that face-to-face encounter, read on.
Breathe before you speak. That’s right, take a deep breath and count to three if you want. The important thing is that you don’t lash out at the kid who piped in, “What’s the point of calculus anyway?” in the middle of your lecture! I’m pretty sure a dozen thoughts flashed in your head, from giving a lecture on calculus in the real world to giving that smart mouth a death stare. But before you act on impulse, hold your tongue lest you end up biting it (Why are you choking, teacher?) Taking a deep breath before you do anything will show the smart aleck that you’re not the least embarrassed or angered by his or her remark. Plus, you don’t get all red in the face, which the students will notice (Teacher, why do you look like a ripe tomato?)
Ignoring is bliss… Or maybe not. To be on the safe side, you might think of just ignoring a smart aleck. Didn’t Gandhi say that passive resistance is the way to go? Avoiding a clash in front of the class is a good thing if it keeps the lesson moving. Indeed, ignoring a harsh remark or a mean joke may save you… for the time being. Sometimes, smart aleck behavior is a scream for attention, any kind of attention. Saying “Who cares?” loudly in class is a means of being noticed by the teacher and the entire class. How they react isn’t important. What’s important is that they do . So before you turn your snobby cheek away from that smart aleck or shutting out his or her voice, also consider the child’s reasons for the behavior. The smart aleck who craves attention won’t give up just like that when treated like an invisible and voiceless entity!
Why so serious? Why react so seriously to a joke if it’s funny? Smart alecks want their classmates to laugh. Surprise, surprise! Teacher also laughs! Teacher also has a sense of humor! Don’t withhold a chuckle just because you think the joke is on you. Joining the chorus of laughter can be good because it means you are a good sport. You also get to prevent the smart-aleck-is-fun-and-teacher-is-killjoy scenario. You know which side will win in that one. A teacher-smart aleck face off is a nuclear disaster in the making, and laughing along detonates that bomb.
Read more tips on dealing with a classroom smart aleck here.