Today I had an interesting request come from a couple of my students. I just wanted to share. Is this how you would have handled it?

"Mr. Wees we have a problem," said a pair of my students.

"What’s the problem?" I responded while I was setting up my LCD projector for the brief video I wanted to share.

"Well, we we’re wondering if we could take class time to work on our Global Gathering presentation we are doing tonight. We promise that we will have our rough draft of our projects ready for Monday! We want to work on what is more important right now, since the presentation is happening tonight."

I thought about it. I mean, I understand their position. I want to work on more immediate deadlines too when I’m in a similar situation. I was just planning on giving them class time to work on their projects, after introducing the idea of flipping our classroom.

"Okay, so I’m listening."

The two girls said nothing. I hadn’t said something which sounded like a positive response, but it sound negative either, so they were confused.

"Look," I continued, "you’ve got an idea and I’m listening to the idea. This means we’ve entered into negotiation. You want to change my side of the equation, but remember our rules of algebra. Whatever we do to one side of the equation, we have to do to the other."

"Oh…well we can bring you in cookies or something," one of the girls offered.

"Don’t change the units. You’re asking me to give up class time so you can work on something you should have done yesterday or earlier this week. You have to negotiate in the same units."

"Okay." They thought about it. You could see the wheels turning as they tried to find an appropriate bargaining chip. "Well, we normally have a study block Tuesday mornings. Could we promise that we will come in and meet with you about math on Tuesday instead of now? That would be fair right?"

Well aside from the fact that I’ll have to supervise an extra class, yeah it’s pretty fair. I’ll sacrifice some of my time next week if it means our fund-raiser this evening for our Kipevu project goes smoother.

"That sounds fair. See, now you’ve both become better negotiators. So you promise that if I give you the time to work on your deadline for today now, that you’ll give me back some of your time later to work on math?" I clarified.

They nodded.

"Okay," I said, "deal."