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HOW FACULTY CAN MANAGE DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS WITH STUDENTS Brian Van Brunt, Ed.D. Senior Vice President of Professional Program Development The NCHERM.

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Presentation on theme: "HOW FACULTY CAN MANAGE DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS WITH STUDENTS Brian Van Brunt, Ed.D. Senior Vice President of Professional Program Development The NCHERM."— Presentation transcript:

1 HOW FACULTY CAN MANAGE DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS WITH STUDENTS Brian Van Brunt, Ed.D. Senior Vice President of Professional Program Development The NCHERM Group, LLC

2 2 Vignettes from seasoned faculty that provide thoughtful reflections and advice from everyday experience Research-based suggestions and intervention techniques to help faculty better assess, intervene, and manage difficult behavior Coverage of special populations, including nontraditional, veteran, and millennial students Discussion of the latest laws and regulations that should affect and inform faculty’s decisions

3 3 Dealing with Danger Mental Health Rude and Entitled Introduction

4 Sample Conversations “I don’t even want to take this class…” “You aren’t clear about what material we are supposed to study.” “My other professor lets me use my phone in class.” “I won’t be here next week for the final because my family is going on vacation to Bermuda. I need to reschedule.” “I had a friend who killed himself last week. I haven’t been able to focus on class.” 4 Introduction

5 5 Vignettes from seasoned faculty that provide thoughtful reflections and advice from everyday experience Research-based suggestions and intervention techniques to help faculty better assess, intervene, and manage difficult behavior Coverage of special populations, including nontraditional, veteran, and millennial students Discussion of the latest laws and regulations that should affect and inform faculty’s decisions Introduction

6 6 Annoying DisruptiveDangerousIntroduction

7 7 Introduction Acts of aggression Threats towards self or others Depression or hopelessness Endorsing violence or weapons Anger/Agitation/Inability to cope Seems out of touch with reality

8 8 Introduction Disruptive Yelling or being excessively loud Interrupting, not waiting for response Hygiene concerns Under the influence of substances Refusing to leave or cooperate Destructive of property Not responding to your instructions

9 9 Introduction Annoying Staring Not picking up on social cues Occupying personal space Wanting to speak to your chair/dean Disrespectful or rude behavior Threatening to sue you Monopolizing your time

10 10 How do you feel when students exhibit these behaviors? 1.Frustrated 2.Scared 3.Annoyed 4.Uncomfortable 5.Not bothered at all Introduction

11 Humanistic Counseling “Core Concepts” Genuineness and Congruence Unconditional Positive Regard Empathy and Perceptions of Empathy Dr. Brian Van Brunt, LPCC, CFCWestern Kentucky University Overview of Rogers/ Person-Centered Counseling Introduction

12 Dr. Brian Van Brunt, LPCC, CFCWestern Kentucky University “Under the most adverse circumstances, they were striving to become. Life would not give up, even if it could not flourish... The clue to understanding their behavior is that they are striving, in the only ways that they perceive as available to them, to move toward growth, toward becoming. To healthy persons, the results may seem bizarre and futile, but they are life’s desperate attempt to become itself. This potent constructive tendency is an underlying basis of the person-centered approach.” Dr. Brian Van Brunt, LPCC, CFCWestern Kentucky University Introduction

13 “I remember in my boyhood, the bin in which we stored our winter’s supply of potatoes was in the basement, several feet below a small window. The conditions were unfavorable, yet the potatoes would begin to sprout—pale white sprouts, so unlike the healthy green shoots they sent up when planted in the soil in the spring. But these sad, spindly sprouts would grow 2 or 3 feet in length as they reach towards the distant light of the window. Dr. Brian Van Brunt, LPCC, CFCWestern Kentucky University Introduction

14 Simon Bailey, a motivational speaker, suggests that every person in your classroom is a “diamond-in-the rough.” As such, diamonds are polished to their brilliance at different times, various temperatures and through a multitude of experiences. This approach lines up with Roger’s humanistic theory. Students want to achieve, they just need help removing the obstacles in their path. Releasing Your Brilliance (Simon Bailey) Introduction Bailey, S. (2007). Release your Brilliance. Collins Business.

15 Simon Bailey: Releasing your Brilliance Simon suggests that our internal thoughts and beliefs about the world impact our ability to take action--- both on a small and grand scale. A professor who adjusts the way she sees underperforming students. If we believe in them and create opportunities for them to be successful---they will become successful in your class. This success then gives you the encouragement to impact other students and classes, your department and college. Introduction

16 A Student’s Success, Fuels further Success Create Chances Alter Beliefs

17 17 Is there imminent danger? Is there a possible threat? Can I resolve this situation? If not, what can I do to help manage it until I can get support? What should I report and to whom? Strive to resolve the situation at the lowest level possible. Dealing with Danger

18 18 Recognize when to report: Document in your own notes Report to Chair/Dean Report to Campus BIT Recognize when to refer: To campus police To campus resource To Student Conduct/Judicial Affairs To Behavioral Intervention Team Dealing with Danger

19 19 An older student s her adjunct faculty member, challenging two exam questions & her grade. The faculty member responds via . Then the student brings it up during class, becoming argumentative & enraged, resulting in her yelling & shoving a desk 6 feet across the room. Dealing with Danger

20 20 Be Aware of Your Feelings 1.Entitled attitude by student 2.Dangerous escalation in class 3.Student behavior stealing teaching time other students deserve 4.Student lacks responsibility for exam 5.Student’s lack of respect Dealing with Danger

21 21 Core Concepts Recognize both cognitive & physical signs Understand escalation Impact both professor & student “Am I making this worse or better?” Put aside attendance, grades Don’t be right & ‘punched in the head’ Dealing with Danger

22 22 Meta-Communication Understand the content (what is being said) & process (how it is being said) Spoken: “This test question isn’t fair! It wasn’t on the study guide & the answers are vague. You need to change my grade!!” Unspoken: “I’m scared & lost in your class. I study hard but still fall behind.” Dealing with Danger

23 23 How to Help? Respond to the unspoken message to match the question being asked. Too often, we match defenses & anger. Focus on worry, concern & frustration underneath. As Covey says, “Seek first to understand and then be understood.” Dealing with Danger

24 24 How to Help? Calm mindset and develop rapport Build a bridge between you and them Realize the way you see things isn’t always the way they see things Dealing with Danger

25 25 How to Help? See crisis response as a two-step model (1) Address dangerous behavior first Dealing with Danger Calmly Discuss Redirect Behavior Separate Student Dismiss Class (2) Follow with proper backup/support You schedule the time and place Include dean, police, counseling…

26 26 A student with Asperger’s disorder asks multiple, off-topic questions during class, engages in odd, repetitive behaviors and is teased by other students. The professor is concerned about the amount of time spent handling the student’s behavior as well as the impact of the teasing & bullying. Mental Health

27 27 Be Aware of Your Feelings 1.Behavior gets in way of other students’ learning 2.Behavior interrupts your flow & teaching 3.Other students teasing the student 4.School admitting more students not ready for college 5.You handle more troubled students without training or pay Mental Health

28 28 Proper Mindset Identify internal emotions Avoid generalizations Focus on problem at hand Stay calm, cool and collected Consider how you might be perceived Apply cycle breathing* Mental Health

29 29 Setting the Stage Talk to the student alone (if safe) Talk should be free of time pressure Seek to understand, not to judge Listen to his/her point of view Discuss with neutral tone; no sarcasm Build connection; working together Use Motivational Interviewing skills* Mental Health

30 30 Breathe in slowly to the count of 1…2…3…4… Hold your breath to the count of 1…2… Breathe out slowly to the count of 1…2…3…4… Hold your breath to the count of 1…2… *

31 31 Motivational Interviewing Involves: Expressing Empathy Developing Discrepancy Avoiding Argumentation Rolling with Resistance Supporting Self-Efficacy Miller, W. R. & Rollnick, S. (1991). Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People to Change Addictive Behavior. New York: Guilford Publications. Mental Health

32 32 In this case: Annoying=Mental Health Disorder Don’t assume or diagnose Know your ADA referral staff How do you access counseling? Seek consultation with colleagues Consider a team meeting Follow up with the student Mental Health

33 33 Don’t Do This: Begin intervention annoyed & frustrated Make assumptions about their motivation Talk much; avoid listening Increase hierarchy between student/prof Use sarcasm Mental Health

34 34 Do This: Have a calm, cool & collected mindset Share concerns without judgment & assumptions; neutral, ‘just the facts’ Listen to student, show respect Align with the student toward success Avoid sarcasm Stay solution focused (What next?) Mental Health

35 35 Look for Signs of Suicide Direct Verbal Clues “I’ve decided to kill myself.” “I wish I were dead.” “I’m going to commit suicide.” Indirect Verbal Clues “I’m tired of life, I just can’t go on.” “I won’t be around much longer.” “Pretty soon you won’t have to worry about me.” Mental Health

36 36 Situational / Environmental Clues Any previous suicide attempt Acquiring a gun or stockpiling pills Putting personal affairs in order Giving away prized possessions Substance abuse/relapse after a period of recovery Mental Health

37 37 A student behaves in an entitled manner. He texts in class, shows up late, gets up frequently to use the bathroom (or take a smoke break) & surfs the Internet during class. The student was asked to reduce these behaviors. He does not comply. The student smells of alcohol & talks about parties the night before. Rude & Entitled

38 38 Be Aware of Your Feelings 1.Frustrated with admissions standards 2.Angry/Anxious about lost lecture time 3.Not sure how to handle problems 4.Don’t like having to police students 5.Lack of compliance 6.Misuse of technology in class Rude & Entitled

39 39 Eight-Step Outline for Difficult Conversations* 1.Describe the behavior & its impacts 2.Listen to the their perspective & response 3.Discuss appropriate behavior 4.Discuss resources to promote success 5.Reiterate or set parameters for future behaviors * Thanks to Laura Bennett at Harper College Rude & Entitled

40 40 Eight-Step Outline for Difficult Conversations* 6.Share consequences for non-compliance 7.Summarize the conversation 8.Inform of any follow-up: Document the conversation & plan Decide who you will inform, Check in with the student, etc. * Thanks to Laura Bennett at Harper College Rude & Entitled

41 41 Prochaska and DiClemente’s Change Theory Rude & Entitled

42 Stage of ChangeFaculty Member’s Motivational Task Pre-contemplation Raise doubt; increase their perception of risk and problems with current behavior Contemplation Help student head towards change out of their current ambivalence; help them identify risk for not changing; strengthen self-efficacy for changing current behavior Preparation for Action Help the student identify and select the best initial course of action; reinforce movement in this direction Action Help the student take steps towards change; provide encouragement and praise Maintenance & Relapse Teach student relapse prevention skills

43 Help students overcome obstacles to obtain the support they need Explore resources via the campus website Call various departments and learn about the services that are offered Look for potential obstacles that may prevent students from accessing care Offer guidance in your syllabus; invite departments to give brief intros during class time Tips

44 Stress is all around us. Understanding the nature of the environmental stress non-traditional students face is key. Stress is cumulative. As it builds, students worry they won’t be able to catch up. Balance the fine line between helping the student progress without holding them to an abstract standard. Require hard work, but build flexibility into your approach that allows for an understanding of context. Tips

45 Develop relationships with students so that the first conversation isn’t a “bad one” Learn how to describe behaviors objectively and be consistent in your approach Keep good documentation Invest time in solutions, not in complaining Give yourself permission to feel uncomfortable, not to be evasive Tips

46 Be Proactive (create environment, choose response before problems start) Begin with the End in Mind (create cognitive mindset, what is the vision, what is the habit) Put First Things First (application of mindset, habit in action, short-term goals) 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen Covey)

47 Stephen Covey: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Understand then be Understood (diagnosis first, then prescribe) Synergize (the whole is greater than the sum of its parts) Sharpen the Saw : (maintain and renew) Think Win-Win (achievements depend on cooperation, working together)

48 Questions? Brian Van Brunt, Ed.D. Senior Vice President of Professional Program Development The NCHERM Group, LLC


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