Week 4 – April 2017
Dealing With Difficult Situations
Classrooms are places where rarely a day goes by without some inappropriate or disturbing behaviour occurs. It falls to the teacher to deal with these situations that usually involve conflict either between students or with students refusing to cooperate in the lesson. To be an effective teacher these are times your personal, assertive skills will be useful. The following tips will help you successfully deal with any such event in a way that enhances the long-term harmony in the classroom.
- Address the behaviour without threatening the individual. Instead of saying ‘You shouldn’t scribble in your book. That’s terrible behaviour’ reframe the message into something like ‘scribbling in the book will make your good work look messy, put the pencil down please’. You attack the inappropriate behaviour not the child
- Remain silent after you deliver your message. Allow them to digest the message and give them the space to make a decision.
- Never apologise for not getting emotionally involved with them. As soon as you either mirror their feelings or retaliate with your own feelings you escalate the student’s mood.
- Sometimes they need a considerable amount of time and space and if there is no immediate danger you can say things like “I know you’re really angry now. You need time to settle down. I want you to just sit outside the room.” Then go on with another activity without antagonising them.
- When they are acting appropriately and in control put some personal investment into maintaining if not enhancing the relationship. Return to the issue, preferably without an audience and get them to explain the purpose of their inappropriate behaviour. If you can let them know that you understand why they are behaving that way. It may be that another child is teasing them. Really listen to them.
- Deliver the consequence for their behaviour. Each member of any classroom should know the consequences for behaviour and that includes the teacher. Remind them they have a choice of actions, but in class as in life we are never in control of what happens to us. At best we can predict what should happen. With this in mind the consequences may be negotiated within the framework of the discipline code.
- Maintain Your Integrity. Stand up for yourself in an appropriate level of assertiveness – you are in-charge when being the teacher. The following will help:
- Continue to act as if their behaviour has no effect on you
- Sustain a steady, positive gaze
- Speak clearly
- Maintain appropriate eye contact
- Stand up straight
- Don’t stand too close or touch them
- Model non-hostile body language, hands off hips, fists unclenched, no finger wagging
Finally finish with a positive message, remind them of previous success they have had in gaining self-control. Acknowledge their strong emotions - this shows they care about themselves but let them know you have confidence in their growing ability to take control of themselves.
You need to have control of your classroom so never put off dealing with distracting behaviours. You will hear about tactically ignoring kids mucking up but the times that is the way to go are extremely rare so just because discipline is hard doesn’t mean we don’t do it and if you want a satisfactory time in the classroom – do the hard stuff first.
Note: Another essay – ‘Challenging Behaviours’ has been added to the resource page. This is freely available by logging on to our webpage at www.frewconsultantsgroup.com.au