Anger is a confronting emotion for classroom teachers and students alike. Early intervention, a sensitive response, and teaching of anger-management strategies are critical to successful interventions.
When a student gets angry, they can become aggressive or violent, and sometimes flee the situation. Each individual’s anger-response is different, and it is imperative that teachers know the warning signs and characteristic behaviours. (Please, please – tell the relief teacher too!). It is also important to remember that a student may feel shamed after losing control of their emotions in front of their peers.
Intervene Early – If You Can
I encourage students to tell me if they aren’t coping with their emotions; explaining that I will give them a chance to get out of class and calm down. This usually involves sending them on an errand, going to the toilet, or getting a drink.
If I recognise the warning signs of an impending outburst, I often quietly tap the student on the shoulder, and offer them an exit strategy. This is an important strategy for teaching students how to cope with and regulate their emotions.
Responding to Anger Crisis Situations
As I discussed in a recent post, the teacher’s first priority in an anger crisis situation is to ensure their personal safety and the safety of the other students. This may necessitate the removal of the student, or the audience.
After the student has calmed down, and accepted the relevant consequences for their actions, it is important to privately discuss their behaviour with them. (You can take the student aside in class, or if possible, take them for a 5 minute walk at Recess break. Sometimes it is more relaxing and beneficial to discuss these matters in informal settings).
I often explain to the student that I can’t possibly understand what they are going through, but that it is normal to feel upset /angry. If they have exhibited a violent/aggressive response, I discuss coping strategies, and help the student identify more positive, less harmful responses. As a classroom teacher, this would inform a more formal behaviour management plan.
Anger Management (TeacherTube™)
Anger Management and Conflict Resolution for Middle School Students, a free PPT download from TeachersPayTeachers.com
“Part 3: Coping with crises, conflicts and difficult situations” in Magic Classroom Management. Rob Plevin (2008/9). (Email me for a copy – I have free distribution rights)