It’s understandable to put up barriers, adopt aggressive or defensive body postures, wear ‘not amused’ facial expressions and use stilted commands to communicate when faced by a particularly lively class or difficult students. Our natural response to something that causes us stress is governed by the fight or flight reflex – we respond to most acts of defiance from a position of anger, frustration or fear.
Yet, as well know, kids tend to respond positively to a teacher who is calm, warm and friendly. Our verbal and physical language has a tremendous influence over how pupils will behave in our presence and can be used to effectively set the tone during any interaction with them. The trick is remaining calm enough to retain conscious control over our own behavior when we’re in a heated or threatening situation.
Here are a few steps for keeping calm when the going gets tough…
Breathe. I know. Simple, and you’ve heard it all before, right? Regardless, it works.
Don’t. Say. Anything.
Take a long, deep slow breath through your nose. Then take another.
Put your hands in your pockets. It sounds a little strange, but it works. A lot of the energy that comes out when we have fights is conjured up by moving our hands around or pointing fingers. Putting your hands in your pockets and keeping them there prevents excess energy from going to where it’s doing more harm than good.
This last step might prove a little difficult. When we’re angry, we have a tendency to spew othreats or speeches that really don’t get us anywhere, even if what we’re saying is true or productive.
Keep your voice at a pace you would use if you were talking to the person normally; you can even take it a bit slower, if you want to. Talking slower can also cause you to breathe more, which can take you back to Step One, and calm you down further.