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Classroom Disaster: How to Save Your Face

Classroom Disaster: How to Save Your Face | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Losing one’s temper in front of students is one of the most problematic scenes in classrooms. I remember being a new teacher in a class filled with twenty-six first graders, nothing ever prepared me for that moment, when they all needed to use the washroom or help to open their lunch boxes. The frustration I faced daily, along with little to no coping strategies were ultimately the key elements that helped me decide to never work with very young learners. There are many reasons why teachers lose their temper in classroom settings, but the good news is there are many ways we can regain control and recreate positive learning environments, as we will discuss in this essay.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Hana A. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Emotional Challenges

Reasons why teachers experience negative emotions in the classroom vary. Anger and frustration stem from the belief “you cant get what you want, or that you’re powerless in a situation” (Nelson, 2007). The inability to manage negative emotions may also be learned or rewarded behavior. Furthermore, it can be due to a lack of skills in self-monitoring and self-regulation. Not paying attention to one’s needs can also create aggressive emotions. Authoritarian leadership in the classroom leads to high performance but also frustration, aggression and negative atmosphere (Pintrich & Schunk 2002).

teacher is angry with the student

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Strategies of Recovery

Educators can practice various strategies to gain confidence after losing their temper. Self-management plays a great role in fostering calmness while boosting the confidence of teachers and students alike. Self-management requires that one masters such skills as self-monitoring, self-instruction, self-evaluation, and self-reinforcement. (Belfiore & Hornyak,1998) Identifying the negative emotion as is arises is the first step to regaining confidence. During self-monitoring, a teacher can label the emotion and validate their feeling. Next, finding out, perhaps through guessing, what expectations aren’t being met. Then, through self-evaluation teachers can come up with possible solutions and alternatives. Finally, self-reinforcement should be included in the process, positive self-talk such as mistakes help us learn and grow. Self-efficacy is defined as “people’s judgment of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action required to attain designated types of performance.” (Bandura, 1986) Educators with high self-efficacy tend to affect their classroom environments positively, hence decreasing the chances of developing high levels of frustrations.

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In this essay, we have attempted to answer the question of how to regain confidence after losing your temper in front of your students. Teachers can begin by learning the reasons behind negative emotions than using various strategies, as mentioned above, to re-create positive learning environments. Although adopting this approach to answer the topic question is very useful, it has its limitations. Knowing the reasons behind negative emotions and learning strategies to cope won’t guarantee a teacher will employ them when frustrations arise in the classroom. “People frequently do not make good use of what they have mastered, failing to apply available strategies to new situations” (Salomon & Globerson, 1987). The absence of mindfulness and self-reflection can be key factors. Often teachers fall back to old, ineffective habits, simply because they are familiar. It is also important to know that there isn’t one single answer to this question. Teachers differ in the way they cope with frustration in the class, however, it’s essential to adopt an approach that’s effective to regain confidence in our classrooms.

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