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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

How Do You Control Your Temper In The Classroom?

How Do You Control Your Temper In The Classroom?

Related Tags: Classroom Management
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Hi, and welcome to the Edutopia Classroom Management discussion group! Alice Mercer and I (I'll definitely be the junior partner, though) will be facilitating here, and I'm looking forward to learning from the wealth of experiences that are out there. I'd like to start off with a quick observation and question: I've found that one of the keys to helping students develop self-control is making sure the teacher does the same. I had a recent experience that I wrote about in my blog and titled it I Was Disappointed With What Happened Yesterday…”. What techniques do you use to control your temper in the classroom?

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Alice Mercer's picture
Alice Mercer
Elementary Computer Lab Teacher

I like to remember to breath BEFORE I say something hotly in response to a student. It makes it easier to speak civilly in those situations. Here's a post with more on the subject.

Tracie Weisz's picture
Tracie Weisz
Middle School teacher from Alaska

Teachers don't often realize the power they have. Behaving badly in front of students only serves one purpose - to make students feel powerless. There are times when it's tempting - because we can. Middle school students have a knack for finding buttons and pushing them - that's their job! Sometimes it's hard to resist jumping into the fray - we can so easily win a test of wits! Those of us who have given in to the temptation know quite well what that will lead to...we take away what little empowerment a student may feel, and we feel bad. It never leads to a feeling of triumph for us or a moment of learning for the student.

I think probably the worst times are days when I am feeling stressed - I'm behind on grading, I have some things to do that administrators or parents are waiting for, I have a pressing personal issue at home - things that are MY problems. Those seem to be the times when I am most apt to have my buttons pushed. I have to remember that they do not know any of these things that are going on with me. As far as my students are concerned, I am 100% available to them mind, body, and soul. And I really should be there 100%. I try as much as I can to put everything aside during class - my students are my #1 priority during this time. I find that the more present I am for them, the less I feel tempers rise.

I think another helpful thing to remember is to always avoid taking any situation down a path that will lead to a point of no return.

Linda George's picture
Linda George
Elementary Computer Teacher

That's a great way to put it! Any time that a power struggle could possibly happen is when I realize, thank goodness, to stop and remember who the adult is. I am lucky to work with elementary age kids, but even at this age once in a while a kid will try very hard to push my buttons. I just have to remember this is a kid...and I am in charge. I am the adult, I have to step back and not let this kid get my "goat" or the end result could be me losing control. That cannot happen. It would surely be the point of no return for my employment!

Larry Ferlazzo's picture
Larry Ferlazzo
I teach English & Social Studies at inner-city high school in Sacramento,CA
Blogger

Good points! One hopes that teachers realize that it's never possible to "win" a power struggle with a student -- over the long run, it just never works...

Mary Beth Hertz's picture
Mary Beth Hertz
K-8 Technology Teacher in Philadelphia, PA
Blogger

Whenever I am having a hard day I have three things I try to remember. One: Many of my students' days are 50 times worse than one of my bad days. Some come to school after no sleep because of a family dispute or no heat in the house, and some come without having eaten breakfast or even dinner the night before. Two: You will never regret what you don't say. Three: I have 2 degrees--I should act like I do!

Ann Harper's picture
Ann Harper
Upper elementary teacher in Garibaldi, Oregon

Sometimes, I just don't say anything for a while. This gives me time to think and it makes the kids wonder what I'm going to do. I usually end up smiling and either dealing with the problem or just moving on.
I've got lots of other ideas, but that one seems to work best when I'm starting to get really angry.

DMR's picture
DMR
Algebra teacher, Maryland

If i feel my blood pressure rising or the desire to cut a couple kids at the knee caps it normally is because of a whole class issue-- it seems like the whole class suddenly turned crazy. In those cases I sometimes revert to a "tolerance line." I draw a line on the board and write tolerance under it and I start making hash marks representing the "tolls" on my tolerance. At least a few kids have to realize you are making marks for it to work, but it normally doesn't take long for the "guys stop it she's making marks" to spread. If I ever get to the end of my tolerance they know there is going to be a cost. The cost depends on the circumstance. If we are in cooperative groups doing an activity we'll switch to a workbook page. etc. I rarely hit the end.

I sometimes use this for days that kids just seem squirrelly; they aren't crazy but they are just "coloring outside of the lines" even though they are still learning.

I created the tolerance line my first year teaching across the street from the Daytona government housing. At that point I was terrible at emotional control (thankfully I've drastically improved) and my kids gave new meaning to behavioral issues. It suddenly occurred to me that I knew my internal temperature was rising reaching boiling by their absolutely absurd behavior but they had no idea until I blew a gasket. So I created an outward monitor to signal students.

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