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Coping with Work Refusal in the Classroom

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Coping with Work Refusal in the Classroom

As educators grapple with the silent protest of student work refusal, research illuminates the underlying causes—and possible solutions.

In nearly every classroom, especially in middle and high school, there are a handful of students who simply refuse to do the work. They’ll listen to the assignment and maybe even nod their heads, but when the rubber hits the road, they don’t hand anything in—at best, they submit a couple of sentences instead of the essay you asked for.

“Often teachers react defensively to obstinate behaviour, creating a situation where teacher and student may become locked in a power struggle or an ineffective pattern of communication,” writes special education teacher Nina Parrish. So how does an educator handle a student who simply refuses to turn in assigned work?

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