Many schools have reported that student behavior has taken a significant downturn over the past few years. Many teachers are struggling to regain control over their classrooms. Can you relate?
If you’re an educator or school counselor who’s found it more difficult than ever to keep the classroom under control, it’s time to learn a few classroom calming strategies. You can’t let a classroom get out of hand or it will disrupt the students’ education and the teacher’s ability to do their job.
We’re here with a few helpful tips educators like you can use to keep the classroom calm. Read on to learn more.
Set an Example
It’s your job as a teacher to lead your students by example. This is true even when it comes to remaining cool, calm, and collected in the classroom. All educators know that sometimes maintaining your composure during stressful class sessions is difficult, but by doing so, you’re teaching your students how to regulate themselves.
In ABA (applied behavior analysis) therapy, this is referred to as “modeling.”
This can be particularly challenging for new teachers, so don’t be too hard on yourself. As you progress through your career, you’ll learn how to stay calm and relaxed.
When your students are pushing your buttons, remember they’re trying to meet their needs (even if it doesn’t seem that way). Responding with anger or getting upset will not help.
Instead, lead by example by staying calm. Instead of yelling at unruly students, redirect that energy somewhere more productive. When students see their teacher remaining calm in the classroom, they may mimic that behavior.
Focus on Connection
Building relationships is everything when it comes to leading a classroom and keeping students calm and happy. Children respond well to connection. We’re social animals, and children are hard-wired to find and follow a trusted adult.
At home, the adult is their parent. At school, you become that adult.
Often, when children act out, it’s because they don’t have that connection. Strong social connections make children feel supported and safe. Consider how you can foster stronger connections in the classroom.
For example, you can greet children at the door, focus on remembering names and small details about each student, and talk to each student like a person rather than a small child (even if they are, in fact, small children).
By focusing on connection, you’re preventing some problems before they even start. Prevention is always better than damage control.
Try to Understand Your Students
Having a bit of empathy and understanding goes a long way when you’re an educator. Many teachers struggle to understand their students, and instead, get frustrated when they express themselves and become dysregulated.
Remember that small children have big emotions, and they’re still learning how to harness and control those emotions. What seems like a small inconvenience to an adult can be incredibly distressing to a child.
When you approach a child with empathy and “get on their level,” so to speak, you’re giving them space to regulate themselves. By asking why they did something, you’re allowing yourself to learn and instruct the child on how they could have handled the situation better.
Jumping right to punishment is tempting, especially in a busy classroom with other children who you need to attend to. Try to resist this urge.
Have Decompression Sessions
Sitting in a classroom all day is tough for children. When you can sense tension in the classroom, take a few minutes for a decompression session.
So what does this include? It depends on your class!
This can be short bursts of physical exercise or stretching to get some rogue energy out, a quick and fun game for your students, a few moments of relaxing deep breathing, or anything else that gets the students into a better headspace.
In a virtual classroom, you can also just allow a quick 5-minute break or have your children play a quick and fun virtual learning game.
Try to do this before students start misbehaving. That way, you’re offering positive reinforcement for good behavior rather than placating children who are acting out. This will encourage children to continue their good behavior.
Many teachers, even without realizing it, shame their students for bad behavior. They call it out in front of the class and have “time out” corners for “bad” kids. Yes, the teacher understands the child isn’t actually bad, but the student still feels shamed.
Instead of a time-out corner, have a “quiet corner” where students can go if they wish. This is a great place for independent work, deep breathing exercises, or playing with sensory toys for a few moments.
You can also allow students to send themselves to the quiet corner if they’re feeling overstimulated. This takes the shame out of it and allows students to let you know when they need a moment to themselves.
There will still be times in which you will have to call out bad behavior, but this can minimize those times.
Consider ABA Solutions and Methods
ABA isn’t right for every child, but it can be effective. Incorporating some ABA methods into the classroom, such as positive reinforcement, may be beneficial when it comes to keeping the class calm, relaxed, and happy.
It can be especially helpful for neurodivergent children, but all children may respond well to those methods.
Try These Classroom Calming and Relaxation Tips
You don’t need to be an ABA expert to keep your classroom calm and focused. These tips can help both you and your students have a better overall classroom experience.
At the end of the day, using empathy and responding with the same energy you’d like your students to give back to you will go a long way. Treat your students as people rather than just children.
At Insights to Behavior, we help education and childcare experts connect with their students. We have a free monthly series all about managing problematic behavior available here. For more help, consider our K-12 behavior management workshop.