I often find my students use that phrase when the tasks start to become too difficult and they don't want to use their strategies, they forgot their strategies, they are embarrassed to get the answer wrong in front of their peers, or just plain avoidance behaviors.
I find it helps to teach students from the beginning that there is a better way to respond. After they realize that the phrase "I don't know" won't get them out of the task, they will learn to use other phrases if you keep reinforcing and reminding initially.
I find by encouraging students to try and to ask for help in other ways, they will learn that they CAN do the tasks and there is no need to be worried, afraid, embarrassed, or whatever other emotion they feel at that moment.
What else can they say?
- "I need help"
- "Can you give me a hint?"
- "I need choices."
- "I need more time."
- "Can I hear it again?"
I tell my students, once I give you help, choices, and/or time, and you STILL don't know....then fine...say "I don't know." Knowing they can say that phrase afterwards, gives them the confidence to ask for help. However, they are surprised in the beginning to learn that with help, they CAN do it! 9 out of 10 times, they won't even say "I don't know" afterwards!
Do you ban this phrase in your therapy rooms? How do you teach your students to avoid using it? What has worked in your therapy rooms?!