Staying calm in the classroom when chaos reigns and behaviour is an issue is not an easy task. You want to yell and rant but loosing your cool is uncool and just doesn't work, well not in the long term anyway. For some, staying calm comes naturally, for others it is a work in progress.
I tend to stay much calmer now than when I first started, but then again most of the children I now deal with are pretty damn good. I don’t have to deal with too many serious issues…I don’t work full time in a classroom and I can choose my schools.
I can’t solve all your problems but maybe some of the following techniques will help you out during those times of stress. I use number 3 and number 8 all the time.
- Place a picture somewhere in the classroom and every time you look at it, smile. This makes you feel good inside (something to do with endorphins) which then calms the situation. If it isn’t your classroom, then smile every time you see something yellow or a colour of your choice.
- Move to a special part of the room such as an imaginary calm circle in the middle of the room and take a deep breath.
- Get the students to have quiet reading time for 10 minutes while you recharge or get organised. Alternatively, have a fun resource ready for this time.
- Do a class stretching session – this will calm the students as well as you.
- Have a quick game such as “Heads down, thumbs up” or if you really need some quiet time, “Dead soldiers” or "Silent Speed Ball" works a treat as they can’t talk!
- Use visualisation relaxation – take the students on a journey. Allow them to lie on the floor as you take them away to a faraway land. Talk slowly and calmly…they could be on a cloud above a magic land. A calming technique for all.
- Put on a music CD/iPod such as waves crashing and just have eyes closed for 5 minutes.
- Start throwing a bean bag or soft ball back and forth to the students that are behaving. Let the others join in as soon as they are seated and quiet. I use this one all the time and it works every time.
- Use a soft voice…I know this is really hard, but if your voice is soft and calm, you tend to be calmer within yourself and this impacts on the students.
- Start each session by explaining to students what they will be doing so they also know what is happening…this can help set up a calm classroom.
- Have some calm jars in your toolkit. These usually consist of jars of water and other items inside a bit like the old snow cones. Check out ideas on Pinterest. We have some on Pinterest on the Special Needs board. Hand these to any students struggling with calmness before it gets out of control and use one yourself.
- Have all the students pull faces. Have them copy your face. Take turns.
- For religious schools, stop for prayer time. For non-religious schools have students form a seated circle. Ask each child to tell the class what they are thankful for or what toy they love the most and why. Give them some thinking time and examples.
- With young children, get them all up and wiggle...get those wiggles out.
- Don’t forget that when the classroom is calm and lovely, praise the students for their excellent behaviour and promise a quick game at the end of the session as a reward.
Teaching is hard. You have to deal with lots of little personalities vying for attention all with different issues at home and school. And you have to teach them as well. Being a good teacher is hard and staying calm is hard. We hope the ideas above make the journey a little easier. For experienced teachers, we hope we have given you a few new ideas to try. Schedule lots of fun in your day.