How to Become Self-Confident if you Lost Your Temper with the Students?
Throughout one’s schooling, it is not uncommon to come across that particular teacher that resolves every type of altercation, or moment of class disturbance, with excessive shouting and loss of temper. Although these are the teachers we tend to recall the most when we are swapping stories with friends of our bygone school days, I feel that the number of “louder”, “loss-of-temper-type” teachers, however, is heavily outweighed by the number of easier going, mild-tempered teachers. Generally, teachers tend to have an understanding of younger learners’ behaviors and therefore occasional bouts in student behavior are expected and dealt with methodically and effectively.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Nicholas M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Explaining the reasons and consequences
Therefore, when a loss of temper is demonstrated by a teacher who does not usually demonstrate this quality, students should be made to understand that their behavior is unacceptable and should be called into question. As one of those teachers who rarely cope with behavioral management in the classroom by raising his voice, I feel it to be both ineffective and disadvantageous at times. One can even extend this contradicting form of behavioral management to the rearing of one’s children, arguing that it can be counterproductive to smack a child to make them understand that it is not okay to smack others.
My solution of the problem
Therefore, instead of initiating a screaming match, I aim to dramatically deescalate the situation and, if required, halt the lesson to make sure that everyone in the room is on the same level. At times I have found that standing in front of the class in silence, waiting for the whole class to notice me and eventually decrease their tone, can also be ineffective and take too long to make an impact. At other times, although one might argue this method to also be counterproductive, a teacher may erupt in an instantaneous shout over the class (usually by calling the class’ name, for example, “3A!”) to grab the complete attention of the class.
In this case, which at times I find to be necessary, I aim to promptly bring the atmosphere down by adopting an empathetic approach. By empathetic I mean the use of words and a lower volume to make the students understand what they have done and how their behavior has affected both the pace of the lesson, the atmosphere of the class, and my role as a teacher. As a teacher, I aim to adopt a rather philosophical approach and allow my students to reflect on their decisions, feelings, and behaviors both positively and productively. I may be in the classroom as an English teacher however I feel that my ability to teach – and in this case impart knowledge – should not cease simply with the English language; if a moment presents itself in which I can bestow upon my students any particular lesson about life, an academic topic or otherwise, then I will try my hardest to present that lesson in a non-threatening, unbiased and intellectually stimulating way. This method of imparting my viewpoints also extends to the students’ behavior: even if this completely suspends the lesson I will aim to use this moment to veer from the traditional, created, student-teacher rapport and talk to the students on a rather human level and make them understand that my feelings have been negatively affected by their behavior and inability to control themselves. I find this to be the most effective method of behavioral management as I dedicate a certain amount of time to self-reflection, whereby allowing the students to understand what they have done and try to think about how they could behave differently in a similar case, rather than simply trying to “out-shout” the students and continue shouting at and degrading them until I think I’ve transmitted my intended message.
One could argue that this manifests a certain weakness in front of students which can then be taken advantage of, however, I would disagree: I find, contrarily, that it breaks down the artificial affectation of the “teacher” (one who is, sometimes, never considered outside of a scholastic context) and presents them rather as a human being with just the same thoughts and feelings as the students possess. Consequently, I find this to be beneficial for the student-teacher rapport: students are strongly encouraged to consider other students’ feelings before they act and speak and I find this method forces them also to extend this respect and consideration to their teachers and, hopefully, other adult figures in their lives. Through examples given by colleagues, I have found continuous, excessive shouting to be extremely counterproductive and time-consuming as this is something that those teachers then become known for and therefore it is almost expected of them; this consequently takes away from the effectiveness of the message they wish to transmit to their students as students know that the teacher is simply shouting because “that’s what they do” and the lesson will eventually resume as usual. However by using a lower volume, stronger tone and particular vocabulary highlighting my feelings as a person, I tend to gain more control over my students’ behavior which is demonstrated in the lessons that follow and I find that my students view me more as a human being rather than simply a teacher (while still, naturally, respecting my role as a teacher).
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As a consequence, this helps me to regain my confidence towards my students and make them also consider this new-found respect even if we happen to meet outside of the classroom.
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