No matter what’s going on in your classroom, don’t panic! I’m not promising you everything will be okay – how could I know that? The only thing I know for sure is that panicking won’t help. It will just take a bad situation and make it worse.
That Out-of-Control Feeling of Panic
I know that out-of-control feeling, and it isn’t pretty. Case in point – It’s the first day of school. I am in front of a class of 42 7th graders, many of whom swagger into the room in gang-banger droopy pants and baseball hats (which is a violation of dress code.) They talk trash to each other across the room – loudly – and completely ignore me, the teacher, standing up here in the front of the room.
Panic Seems Reasonable, But Not Helpful
Panic seems reasonable. However (I remind myself) not helpful. What will change if I take a moment to compose myself? Nothing. They will keep talking, but I will have regained my composure.
Breathing a couple of times, I take a look around the room. Of the 42, only seven are actually trash talking and being loud. The others are either quiet, or talking with their friends – just what I would do while waiting for class to start. True, I still have a problem, but it’s not the all-encompassing rebellion I initially thought.
I decide to pretend the seven swaggerers aren’t there, and address the 35 students that are just fine (and waiting to see how I’m going to react.) Another deep breath, and I start class just as I had planned. No, it wasn’t perfect, and yes, I did need to redirect. But at least I kept my sanity, and didn’t alienate the rest of the class by blaming them for the minority of students who were acting out.
Will staying calm solve all your problems? Of course not, but at least you won’t make a bad situation worse. And who knows? You may discover it isn’t as bad as you initially thought.
Now go create a great day for yourself and your students!
Katrina Ayres, Positive Teaching Strategies
Additional Awesome Teacher Nation Resources
- Create a Great Day for Yourself and Your Students
- 5-Minute Classroom Management Hints
- The Take-Charge Teacher
- All The Ways I Screwed Up My First Year of Teaching
- The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book
- The Classroom Teacher’s Coloring Book, Volume 2
- Why Threats and Punishments Don’t Work
- Saving Time on Paperwork and Grading
- 7 Strategies to Deal With the Pencil Sharpener
- What’s the BEST Classroom Management Strategy?
- Taming the Chaos: How to Create and Effective Classroom Routine
- Making Money as an In-Demand Substitute Teacher
- A Day in the Life of a Substitute Teacher
- The Substitute Teacher’s Troubleshooting Guide