As humans, we naturally don’t like surprises. This attitude follows us wherever we are/go. So as teachers, most of us often expect everything and/or lesson to go smoothly.
This is because of our natural desire to see everything work perfectly. It is also partly due to the way we are being trained in college. Further, it stern from the national curriculums that serve as teaching guides for us.
We, therefore, become overwhelmed and stressed when we start teaching. For some of us, we will end up hating our profession and start regretting our choice.
As a result, we easily lose our cool in the classroom. If you face this or want to learn to always keep your calm, implement the following strategies:
- Taking center stage
- Getting students’ attention
- Maximize the power of pause
- Make use of the attention of your students
- Respond to events quickly
- Power and struggle: Never ignore misbehavior
- Plan for variety and learning
- Avoid anger
- Collaborate with colleagues, authorities, and parents
The above is some of the strategies I use to help myself go through the daily hustles in my classroom. They might be of great use to you.
Why Is Keeping One’s Cool Important?
Before we start looking at the different techniques, it will be useful for us to know why it is important to keep your cool when dealing with students.
We need to remind ourselves that being yourself when teaching has the following benefits:
It Improves Students’ Achievement
Teachers who can keep their cool can create a classroom environment that promotes effective teaching and learning. By keeping calm, you will be able to model positive behavior in the classroom that can help you deliver effective lessons. It also helps you gain time, without stress and pressure, to plan the best possible lessons for your students.
It Reduces Teachers’ Stress and Avoids Time Wasting
I often get enough time and peace of mind to plan adequately for my lessons when I am not stressed. Controlling and keeping calm, whenever possible, always help me concentrate and do adequate research on the materials and the best way to teach a particular topic. However, I don’t achieve all these when I lose control of myself.
For example, my colleague is currently stressed and depressed because of his inability to keep calm. This has cost him a lot in his class as students continue to misbehave due to his inability to brainstorm, plan, and deliver effective lessons.
He has considered quitting the job many times in the year. This is because he struggles to keep calm when reacting to the actions of students, colleague teachers, school administration, and parents.
It Lifts Teachers’ Morale and Confidence
I am always happy to see my students excelling in life. I always feel fulfilled when my students fully cooperate, collaborate, and respond positively to lessons in the classroom. My confidence and morale increase in those situations.
But I always have to be calm to think through and deliver effective lessons. This is why we need to learn to keep our cool as much as possible.
It Helps Teachers and Schools to Produce Responsible People for Society
Education is meant to produce knowledgeable, responsible, and useful individuals to serve their societies. This s why societies invest a lot in educating their people.
Being calm, as a teacher, makes a role model for your students. That is, it will help you exhibit behaviors that are imitable by your students.
Becoming a role model to your students makes it easy for you to help students improve their grades, social and interpersonal skills, and many other useful skills. With that, students come out to be great members of their society.
Why Do People Have Problems Keeping Their Cool in Classroom?
Keeping your cool in the school and classroom is quite difficult especially for new and inexperienced teachers. Numerous reasons account for that. The following are some of them:
People respond differently to situations, some positively but others negatively. The type of your personality could stop you from handling and controlling yourself.
High emotional intelligent people are more likely to keep their cool in challenging situations than those who are low in emotional intelligence.
By our nature, we desire to see everything in our lives go smoothly. However, life is not boring and with that, all that we desire doesn’t happen. This makes us worry and sometimes we fault ourselves too much over our unmet desires.
These negative perfectionists’ tendencies keep us down and sometimes awake all night struggling to keep our cool in school and the classroom. Until you stop feeding these negative criticisms, you will continue to strive to be calm in front of your students.
Fixed Training Curriculum
Most of our national and training curriculums for educating teachers look like a blueprint for perfect education. This programs us to use the curriculum as the yardstick for perfect education. Meanwhile, it is not possible to achieve perfection, at least in a human endeavor.
So, if our lessons fail to match up with the curriculum, we worry so much and forget several issues that can prevent us from having the perfect lesson.
This is often overlooked. However, this puts pressure on teachers all over the wide world such that they become restless. It is time for us to relax and know that things will not be smooth always.
Expectations of Stakeholders
There are several actors in the survival of schools. Parents and school administrations are important partners in educating students.
They are also the sources of our restlessness. Imagine school administrations load teachers with too many course hours.
The above behavior puts pressure on teachers such that they get fewer hours to plan their lessons. This inadequate planning kills the confidence of teachers when delivering lessons, hence they struggle to keep their calm.
Some parents also put similar pressure on teachers regarding their wards. This often occurs in the form of not monitoring the progress of their wards at home expecting the teacher to perform wonders on them. They are others who wrongly accuse teachers of the actions/inactions of their wards.
What are the Ways to Keep One’s Cool in Classroom?
Even though numerous reasons make us lose our calm, there are several techniques that we can use to calm ourselves in school and the classroom. These are:
Taking center stage
This technique relies on your ability to gain and maintain your confidence in handling your position as a teacher. Being confident is important because it allows you to take charge in your class.
It is much more about your public presence making sure that every student can feel your presence in the classroom. This can create an impression of your calmness and confidence in the minds of the students. You can do the following to help you take center stage in your classroom:
- Stand still on your two feet in a position where you can see and monitor everything that is going around in the classroom. Don’t walk around excessively as your students will like to lose touch with what you say.
- Speak louder for everyone to hear you but don’t shout or yell.
- Organize yourself, your students, and things in the classroom. This will create a sense of your public presence in the classroom.
- Try to gain and maintain their attention by remaining still, smiling, and looking at the students.
Doing the above makes your students feel your presence in the classroom. It also tells them that you are in charge. With this, you will be calm and ready to deliver effective lessons.
Getting students’ attention
Effective teaching and learning can only take place if you can gain and maintain students’ attention. Getting the attention of your students is at the core of effective and good classroom management. This is because if you get everyone to listen to you, you can maintain your calm.
This is because you will feel unhappy and disturbed if your students are doing or talking to others while you are talking. In this sense, you will likely lose your cool. When that happens you will lose control of the lesson and effective learning can’t occur.
The following are some of the strategies I use to manage the attention of my students:
- Insists you get the full attention of everyone the very moment you stand in front of the class.
- Don’t wait to get the full attention of everyone before you start the lesson.
- Mention students’ names to get them to listen to you.
- Establish eye contact.
- Rearrange classroom to be able to see and monitor everyone’s actions.
- Express positive facial expressions.
- Use your voice for attention by varying it. For example, you can raise your voice to alert a student to stop doing something. Be consistent with your voice variations so that students will understand you when you use them.
- Make use of signals consistently. You can define what they mean or what you want students to do when you use them. You can involve the students in the process. For example, when I clap my hands it means everyone should stop whatever they are doing.
Remember you may not always achieve 100% results in every situation. But it pays to consistently but adapt your style to different situations.
I will encourage you to reflect and brainstorm on the different ways to manage students’ attention. You can even have an adaptable plan for gaining the attention of students. It will help.
Maximize the power of pause
Pausing can work wonders in your class if you use it appropriately. It is often used as a signal to help you get the attention of students. It pays to learn this skill because it is critical to your classroom management success.
If you succeed in using pause, it reduces your stress when managing pupils’ behavior in the class. The following can help you improve your skills in using pause:
- Stop mid-sentence. This shows the agency of what you want students to do.
- Mention the student’s name to get his/her attention.
- Pause and mention the person’s name only, if you don’t get his/her attention.
- Don’t mind the student’s response.
- Slow down your speech, as if you want to pause, and signal students what you want them to do.
- After pausing, you can use about 30 seconds to tell students what they should do.
- When you get their attention, continue your lesson else they will go back to what they were doing.
Pausing is a useful skill we should all learn. It will reduce our stress and calm us down.
Make use of the attention of your students
When you get the attention of your students, quickly use it. Don’t leave a vacuum in the class after gaining students’ attention. Else they will fill it on their own.
So I recommend and emphasize that you better make use of the attention of the students. This will help reduce your stress by reducing problem behaviors in your class.
Respond to events quickly
Respond quickly to events in your classroom. This can be both proactive and reactive. Doing this, helps you maintain an uninterrupted classroom environment. It also allows students to know that you are in charge.
You can always scan your classroom for things and behaviors that can interrupt or create problems. When you see those things and behaviors, deal with them immediately and don’t let them escalate to uncontrollable situations.
You can also anticipate what is likely to happen in the course of your lesson. With this, you can look for possible solutions to deal with them when they occur.
You can also do that by addressing minor disruptions/infringements when they occur. This shows you are not ready to accept any of such behaviors.
If you succeed in doing this, you will reduce your stress substantially. This will help you keep your calm always.
Power and struggle: Never ignore misbehavior
We always need our students to give us their attention. However, students are not always willing to give us that due to several reasons. This is irritating because we often struggle with students over who is in charge in class.
If this is not properly handled, you will lose control of yourself and the classroom. This will greatly and negatively impact effective teaching and learning. We will also get stressed and depressed in this situation.
Therefore, never ignore any misbehavior in your classroom. Your response to even minor misbehaviors sets precedence for future student misbehaviors. If you let misbehaviors go unaddressed, it signals you like them. So never fail to address misbehaviors if you want to keep your cool.
Plan for variety and learning
Planning is an important part of a teachers’ work. We also plan well to be able to deliver effective lessons.
When you plan for various activities and suit the different types of learners in your class, you can always keep your calm. Planning for variety can help you to easily switch activities to keep the attention of your students.
It also helps you undertake activities that meet the needs of visual, kinesthetic, auditory, and verbal learners among your students.
Most importantly planning for variety reduces your stress in the classroom. This is because a well-planned lesson will be fun, easy, and motivating for your students such that there will be no need to panic over problem behavior.
Losing one’s anger when dealing with your students can become the source of all your stress. This will result in you losing your cool and that will ruin your days with your students.
So learn to always resist the temptation to get angry when your students put up annoying behaviors. It never pays to get angry. Just note the following:
- Don’t overreact to student behavior.
- Use a 1-minute speech to address possible misbehavior. Use the third person pronoun (we) when talking.
- Be mindful of your language when addressing problem behavior. For example: don’t insult.
- Never criticize student’s personalities, rather their problem behavior.
- When interrupting an angry student, be calm and remain positive.
- Positive self-talk can help you avoid getting angry.
- Introduce humor in highly charged situations to diffuse tension in the class.
Remember the strategies are a sample of behaviors that helps me avoid anger when I’m dealing with my students. You may have what works for you which I didn’t mention here, use it.
Collaborate with Colleagues, School Administration, And Parents
Effective teaching and learning take place with substantial collaboration with many stakeholders. therefore, we need to take advantage of that and partner others, when/where necessary.
Doing that helps us solve lots of problems that come our way and makes us have peace of mind to plan and deliver effective and beneficial lessons. You can achieve this through the following:
- Talk to your school psychologists or counselor to help you deal with more technical student behavior.
- Partner with your colleague teachers and staff to find solutions to problem behavior and properly manage your students.
- Collaborate with parents to solve problems regarding their wards. But you should find a balance between when and when not to involve parents.
In conclusion, we noted why keeping one’s cool is critical to effective classroom management. We finally looked at how one can keep his/her calm in school and the classroom. The strategies mention are what I have consistently practice at my work and have found results. I don’t always get 100% results but I understand it is part of the challenges in dealing with humans. Please, share this article with your colleagues to support us produce more great content.