I get most upset in the classroom when I lose control. When I don’t get my way. When someone else gets their way. When that someone else is God, though, I have peace instead of anger, soft words instead of harsh, and humility instead of ego.
How do you do that when the natural reaction is yelling and digging in your heals? It is easy to pray for God to take control in the calm of the morning, but difficult in the heat of the moment.
First, say a small prayer in your head. Just the quick thought makes giving up control intentional.
Second, give the student his or her options and walk away. Just because you give control to God doesn’t mean you can’t calmly remind the student what they need to do and what the consequences will be if they don’t. Then, give them time to react to your words without you in their face. If it’s not a fight or another time sensitive issue, go find something else to do for a few minutes.
Third, cool off and collect your thoughts. Since teachers are such great multitaskers, you can check something else off your list while you take some deep breaths. Decide what the student is seeking in not following directions. Is it attention, an escape from embarrassment over not being able to complete an assignment, or even an escape from the classroom? I have also found that when I calmly re-examine a situation that sets off a student that sometimes I figure out that there honestly was a misunderstanding about expectations. Think about if any of these factors come into play and what a level-headed teacher would want the outcome to be.
Finally, approach the student. There’s no step by step guide here because every outcome is different. Most of the time, though, that cool off period is most effective and diffuses the situation enough so that you may both move on. Be prepared, however, to enforce consequences at this point. I find that just mentioning you’ll call home can be effective.
I know this sounds hokey. But give it a try and see for yourself. After all, would you rather calmly deal with “that kid,” or distract the whole class with your power struggle. Don’t let the students have that power, let God.