The “Double Scoop” – Student Emotions

Jon Konen
District Superintendent

It's at this time of year we see behaviors in students that we may not have seen since the first days of school in the fall. We wonder what has changed in the student's life to warrant these behaviors. We have to keep the big picture in the forefront. Many times as educators we are the most consistent support structure for our students the six hours we have them. We care about them and treat them like our own kids at times.

Then, out of the blue, these students exhibit behaviors towards us that are hard to not take personal. We ask ourselves, why are they treating us like this? After all the time and effort we have put into this student, and they treating us this way...

The "Double Scoop!"

In the High Trust Philosophy, based on Dr. William Glasser's Choice Theory, this phenomenon is called the "double scoop." It is when a student treats the ones they love the most, or whom they are closest to, the WORST! We may even see the stress and anxiety with the student as it is evident with their behavior. We are comfortable and trusting people in the student's life and they know that; but many times they don't know how to express their feelings, so they get angry or mad at us.

What may be the most difficult thing for an educator to do is see the bigger picture and pull themselves out of the equation and dig deeper. What is the student most upset about? What are the true stressful issues the student is dealing with? What anxieties are they experiencing? What's tough to realize is…the sooner we do not take it personal, the sooner we can support them.

Sometimes we don't see the double scoop. We get sucked into an argument or let behaviors in the classroom mask what truly is going on. We may need a colleague or maybe even another student in class to knock us into reality.

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How do we support the student when we know the "Double Scoop" is going on? Instead of being confrontational and in the student's face, we should be alongside the student. This may sound metaphorical in nature, but it is actually a strategy to do in reality with the student. Here are seven short phrased comments that are packed with philosophy:

  1. "I see you are frustrated. Would you like to take a break?"
  2. "I see you are angry. Tell me more."
  3. "Are your frustrated? Let's do some breathing."
  4. "Do you need some time?"
  5. "Would you like to take a walk or stay in the room?"
  6. "That is hard. When I am frustrated here's what I do."
  7. "Did you know some birds don't fly?"

Reading the student's reactions, behaviors, and ultimately, emotions will be important. Here are some of the reasons to use these quick seven questions:

  • In the first two questions (#1 and #2) you state the exhibited behavior and offer a replacement activity: taking a break or talking.
  • In the third question, we turn the exhibited behavior into a question, then we go straight to a strategy that has worked to calm the student in the past.
  • When using the fourth question, it may work when the student uses self-calming strategies or tools and make sure to give them time to respond.
  • In question five, we offer two ideas for the student that you can live with (Choice Theory): 1) go for a walk or 2) staying in the room. With this question you create a double bind...there are only two things they can do...leave or stay…and you are okay with either one. Once they feel like they are choosing, they gain some power and freedom in making the choice. When they finally do make the choice you are getting compliance; ultimately, the student is doing one of the choices you gave them...and then compliance begets more compliance.
  • Question six you label the behavior and sympathize with the student, then you offer a model for what their response could be.
  • Question seven is sometimes my favorite..."Giving Glass." Sometimes students get into a rut or cycle with their behavior or tantrum. A way to get them out of the rut is to derail their thinking. Sometimes the crazier the comment or question, the faster a student's thought cycle is changed. "Giving Glass" means we are not acknowledging their behavior and we are changing the topic to something that may be weird, interesting, or confusing...all in the name of disrupting the current thought process.

The "Double Scoop" is real for students. In my school we talk about this language daily. We even see the "Double Scoop" occur on Friday's and Monday's. Students are with us consistently Monday-Friday. On Friday students may fear the two day weekend and the reasons are as varied as you may guess: lack of food, lack of attention, abuse, and more. On Monday, they may be recovering from the two day weekend and the "Double Scoop" may be real and directed at you!

How will you identify and counteract the "Double Scoop?"

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Jon Konen