This experience can be called “hooking”. By not having good strategies set into place before hand, an angry student can make the classroom a battlefield. The angry student may incorporate the teacher and his/her classmates into rescuing the scapegoat, involving them into how unfairly the world has treated them, and/or succumbing to the job of being the problem solver.
Hooking the Teacher
Teachers need to realize that it is important that they do not fall into any of the “hooks” put out by the angry child. The first strategy for keeping the disruption down is to set clear expectations early in the school year. Let the class know what is expected and what the consequences are for misconduct. Then calmly stay in the expectations.
Good listening skills are a crucial skill for successful teachers and it is important to remember that the shortest path between two objects is usually a straight line. The best thing to do with an angry student is to help them do their own negotiating and problem solving. If it is done for them, the teacher runs not only the risk of becoming part of the problem but of also not helping them solve problems independently.
With an angry student part of the first line of defense is to de-escalate the situation. It is often easy to notice when one or more individuals start to escalate and lose rationality. When this happens, the teacher can use the following strategies to prevent an aggressive episode and help the individual settle down.
Pointers for De-escalation
De-escalating is the skill of intervening early in an aggressive episode and helping a student settle down. This is not as easy as it sounds. It is important to note that the angry student is often hoping someone will step in and help his or her before it gets out of hand. Sometimes a simple “This is a classroom, let’s get back to work” may be all that is needed. Simple physical proximity of the teacher to the student can also elevate an escalating situation. The teacher should walk calmly and deliberately towards the angry student.
Another good strategy is to cause a distraction that is completely unrelated to the individual. A teacher might “accidently” knock over a chair, or drop a book. This distraction will give the teacher an opportunity to reengage the student in a more appropriate activity.
One of the best known and least used ways to de-escalate is by using humor. A little levity will help ease tension and make the class feel like a group. Of course humor should never be used to belittle either party or at someone’s expense. This type of humor will only increase an already tense situation.
Anger Reduction Strategies
Teachers need to be ever diligent to notice when the mood in the classroom starts to turn. While this seems like a lot of extra work, in the long run it will help eliminate many discipline problems. When dealing with an angry student, the teacher should meet privately with the student to discuss what the matter is.
This removes the audience and prevents the other students from feeding off the tension. A place to cool down or a “time-out” area is valuable in class so that when a student is angry he /she will have an area to retreat to so that the other students can continue learning.
Another strategy is ignoring. Ignoring can work because so many times it is the yelling, screaming, and making an example of the student that reinforces his/her actions. No attention, if possible, is the best of strategies.
Timing is also important. Knowing the best time to speak to someone who is angry will help make sure the student has the best opportunity to calm down. The best time might vary from student to student.
Teachers who get frustrated, annoyed, or even passionate with an angry student can often cause the situation to escalate. By being calm and levelheaded, a teacher can often help an angry student to cool down.
When all else seems to not be working, a teacher can have a redirection list. This is a list of errands that the teacher keeps on the desk to be used when a student appears angry. This list should be used when the teacher notices a student becoming angry, not after they are fully engaged in the mood swing.
Some Final Tips
In dealing with angry students remember to avoid passing judgment on why they are angry. Be confident with a gentle tenacity and a durableness to withstand being worn down. Teachers need an ability to recognize that if anger is a part of something else, the something else must be treated and a realization that anger management works best for those who own anger as a personal issue.