Monday 13 February 2017

The Four Tendencies in More Depth: Rebels

This is my fifth blog post in this series. If you're new here, you may want to start with the first post.

I'm sure a lot of you have been eagerly awaiting this post! How do you deal with students who always do the exact opposite of what they're supposed to? A Rebel resists all expectations, outer and inner. This means that they hate to do what they're told to do, but they also struggle to do what they want to do themselves.

How to tell if you're a Rebel

You have been using the learning and decorum points system in your lessons regularly since your colleague introduced you to it. You like it. Then senior management announce that it is now school policy to use this system in every lesson. You feel annoyed that you are being told how to do your job, so you stop using this system.

You mark your books regularly and to a high standard, except when there's a work scrutiny coming up. Then you stop marking until after the scrutiny is over. When your line manager asks why, you find that you honestly can't explain. You feel annoyed at yourself.

You eat quite healthily most of the time. One day you decide that you would like to lose weight, and you put yourself on a diet. By the end of the day you have eaten more junk food than you've ever eaten before in a day, and you feel terrible.

How to tell if your student is a Rebel

They are often late to school, with no explanation as to why.

They resist wearing the school uniform, and alter it as much as they can.

The more they want to succeed in a subject, the worse their assessment results become.

How to support Rebel students

Make sure they're really Rebels

I think that many teachers would put badly-behaved and underachieving students in the Rebel category automatically, but please think carefully before diagnosing them like this. If the student's behaviour improves whilst on report, or whilst having careful monitoring, they are an Obliger, not a Rebel. If they are able to follow their own rules but not the school's, they are Questioners. Rebels are actually pretty rare, and the students with the worst behaviour are not necessarily Rebels.

Change your expectations

Rebels resist expectations, so use a bit of reverse psychology. Tell them that they'll never amount to anything and that they'll end up in prison and they'll never pass a single GCSE. They then might start to "prove you wrong". This is an extremely dangerous strategy and I don't actually recommend it unless you happen to be starring in a film about disadvantaged kids, and you have a co-star (possibly the late Robin Williams) to help build the child's self-esteem back up in the end.

Go even stricter 

Although Rebels naturally act against expectations, they will still follow the rules if there is literally no escaping them. For some Rebel students, this is the only way they can succeed in life. This might be why, according to Gretchen Rubin, there is a surprisingly high incidence of Rebels in the army. They hate following rules, but deep down they really want to be able to get things done and learn and achieve good grades. Having water-tight rules may be the only way this can happen. They will hate it. They will complain. They will swear at you. They may even throw furniture around. But they will be so, so, grateful a few years later.

Do you have any good tips for supporting Rebel students? I'm not sure I've ever really taught a Rebel (so far) so I'm not sure my advice is that good in practice.

If you're a rebel yourself, do you identify with anything I've said? What are your own tips for managing yourself? Please don't leave me a comment below.

Emma x x x

PS Just wanted to give a shout out to the two most annoying students on the planet who begged me to write a blog post about them. To protect their identity, I will simply refer to them as Myub and Aughal. I will not be writing an entire post dedicated to them, as the only thing I would be able to say is that they spend far too much of their maths lessons thinking of irrelevant questions they can ask me.


  1. Mughal and Ayub

  2. YES, finally just to let all my fans know im actually Myub the truth is mrs actually begged to put us on her blog seeming as we are like bare famous and dat. Also we ask very interesting and helpful questions for Mrs because we have been teaching for like 68% in years (sorry i cant convert that) and we know she needs the support
    jk she is probably the best teacher in the school

  3. Mrs someone revealed our identities but it's okay it was probably bilbo bargains