So, if this were me, I would start by finding out some information first. Does this child have any challenges like a learning disability or is it possible he fits somewhere on the autism or Asperger's spectrum? That might change how I would proceed, and I would probably seek help from his parents for ideas on that. If not, I would look at other things too. Is he really bright and easily bored? Does he *want* to be there? Or is this something his parents just signed him up for? Does he have close friendships with anyone else on the team?
If he wants to be there, and is really interested in being an active and engaged team member, then I would simply treat him as if he already were that. I would hold that vision of him, and treat him respectfully, and model for him how I want him to speak to me and how I expect him to treat others. I wouldn't let him take my attention away from others to the point where it takes away from others' experience of the team. I would set clear boundaries, but I would just say things like, "It's not okay to speak to Timmy that way," and then I would turn and talk to Timmy in a respectful way, modeling that for him, and then move on. I wouldn't dwell, I wouldn't send him out of the room, etc. I would treat him like I would expect my spouse or my co-worker or my supervisor at work to treat me.
One idea might be to give different team members certain roles or jobs that you rotate at different practices. We have done that before. Sort of like putting each person in charge of one thing per session or per week, or even for the whole season. It gives them a sense of leadership, a feeling that their job is important and their presence is needed. And I mean real roles, not busy work, different things that need to be done. So, everyone still works on and helps out with all facets of the challenge, but there is one person who makes sure that it all gets done, and holds his fellow teammates accountable. For example, put one person in charge of internet research, one person in charge of interviews, another in charge of checking the game updates every day and reporting them back to the team. You could do this for the whole season or change it up.
It's hard to know how much of a problem it is without examples of how the child is behaving, but if I really felt like it was too much for me to do on my own, and it was affecting everyone's FLL experience, I wouldn't hesitate to ask one of his parents to come to practices and volunteer as an extra adult, just to have an extra set of hands. Then you could maybe break up into smaller groups, have one group work on research and the other on the robot, then switch. That might keep kids engaged and getting along better with smaller group interactions. But I wouldn't single out the child, and I wouldn't make any deals like "if you don't do this, then XYZ will happen", I would feel like that would just reinforce his image as the disruptive kid.
I would think about what motivates me at work. What makes me want to be engaged in my job and do well. Research shows it isn't reward systems, that is temporary, and productivity actually dips down even lower than before the incentive program was introduced.
Good luck! I feel like volunteering your time mentoring these kids is a great contribution, and who knows, maybe he will be an engineer one day because of you. :)
On Mon, Aug 27, 2012 at 12:09 PM, John Barrett <[log in to unmask]>
How do you deal with a team member who thrives on negative attention?