Teachers who work with students in small groups and don't have a classroom of your own can face unique behavioral challenges. So, in this situation, what do you do with the student who is defiant, disrespectful or doesn't want to participate in the activities?
I have a few ideas.
Consider every cause of behavior
First, I’m a big believer in the fact that a student’s behavior is the concern of the regular classroom teacher no matter where that behavior occurs, so you need to press his teacher for more insights on what this child’s behavior triggers are.
Find out a bit history on this little guy to see if there's anything in his background that can help you understand his motivations.
Second, no breakfast? In a high-needs public school, there should be no reason for lack of food. Yes, you should check up on this. Let the classroom teacher know what you are doing, but the needs of the child come before any concerns over who should be taking responsibility.
Third, touch base with the counselor. He or she may know things that you don’t about this students’ life situation. You’ve gotten the brushoff from admin, but that should never stop a committed teacher.
Pull-out groups are tough
Now consider the fact that you are running pull-out groups. I have had experience with students feel who like they're being punished if they have to leave the classroom to go to a learning-assistance group. They think it makes them look dumb in the eyes of their peers.
So be certain to have a conversation with your student and explain to them why they're coming:
“Because your learning style works best with some one-on-one discussions.”
Show them their current academic status, and then give them a goal:
“This is where we need to be in third grade, so, we need to work together to get you there.”
Having goals helps them invest. But also open up to discussing his feelings:
“What makes you so upset and how can we fix that? Because we really want you to meet your goals.”
He needs to feel like he is a participant in the learning process – that this isn't being done to him.
Then always loop back with the classroom teacher on this student’s progress so she can compliment him and build him up, too, for his successes.