Magazine article Techniques

Keeping Your Cool

Magazine article Techniques

Keeping Your Cool

Article excerpt

POWER IS CONTROL. CALM IS STRENGTH. UPSET is weakness. Those statements are from classroom management expert Fred Jones, who says that teachers who are not first in control of themselves can never hope to control another individual--much less a whole classroom full of individuals.

In an Education World article, teacher Max Fischer says that when he is faced with student behavior that could cause him to lose control, he thinks about Captain Bligh in Mutiny on the Bounty. Although he may feel like forcing the mutinous student to walk the plank, he instead strives to remain calm in the storm and uses his experience to be Master and Commander of his emotions and his classroom. His tips include knowing your students and earning their respect, having an action plan ready for explosive situations, learning from past mistakes, and disciplining fairly.

Remaining calm in the eye of the storm is not always easy. Some students enjoying arguing and challenging their teachers--and not in a way that encourages independent thinking or productive discussions. Others seem to instinctively (or by careful observation) know just how to push a teacher's buttons. Dr. Ken Shore advises first don't take the bait when such a student tries to get a response from you. Sometimes a lesson in communication skills may help argumentative students learn to express themselves in other ways. Shore also suggests either setting aside an other time to hear the student's argument or having the student put the argument into writing.

Ronnie Nijmeh, president of ACQYR and author of Stress Busters, says a major source of stress for teachers is that they cannot control events that happen to them, but they can control how they react. Nijmeh says try to interpret stressful situations as challenges, not threats, maintain a positive attitude and know your limits. Teachers are not superheroes and cannot do all things or solve all problems.

Learning better time management or even better organizational skills can help create more of a feeling of calmness for a teacher. According to Jones, calm is also a skill that can be learned. "It's a matter of breathing," he says. "Relaxed breathing can be learned like any other skill--with practice, practice, practice."

The American Psychological Association (APA) includes using relaxation tools such as deep breathing, yoga-like exercises and visual imagery of a relaxing experience among its recommendations for controlling anger. …

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