Conflict Prevention and Resolution in the Classroom
Creating and maintaining safe and orderly classrooms is an important aspect of effective instruction. Often, teachers find themselves instructing young people who lack skills necessary to cope with anger. This week, we offer tips that can be used in classrooms to teach students to productively and satisfactorily deal with anger. As you read this week’s tips, bear in mind that many times, angry students need to be isolated; they must be removed from the general school population in order to ensure everyone's safety. These tips promote teaching students ways to deal with anger preventively.
This Week's Tips
Discuss Anger Management Methods with Students (Monday)
After developing rapport with your students, design and distribute a questionnaire regarding your students' anger management skills. Complete the questionnaire alongside your students. Questions should include those regarding their outward behavior the last time they were angry, their internal feelings, the impetus for their anger, how long their anger lasted, and what finally helped to calm them. Conduct a class discussion in which you also participate. Discuss the questions as a large group; your input and guidance may prove essential in providing positive responses to anger.
Create a Calm Spot (Tuesday)
Accept that anger is a normal emotion experienced by all students. For those who can't control it, provide a calm, safe cool-down spot. Equip the cool-down area with current issues of popular magazines, writing paraphernalia, koosh balls (great for squeezing to release tension and anxiety), and, most importantly, access to you just as soon as the rest of the class is engaged in an activity. Angry students need a place and a method to calm themselves in order to begin to deal with their anger productively. Ask them to complete a brief anger log to document what happened and why.
Encourage Peer to Peer Dialogue (Wednesday)
Invite the class to brainstorm ways to remedy or alleviate some of the common causes of anger in students, such as bullying or teasing. Encourage students to understand that a small number of students committed to change can become the impetus for change in the entire school. Invite your students to create public service announcements for the school news and invite media students to videotape the student generated “infomercials.” Insist that if your students “talk the talk,” they must “walk the walk.” If your students understand that they are becoming role models, the price of fighting becomes much higher.
Lead Students in a School Poster Project (Thursday)
Create a wall chart listing the positive and negative ways to respond to anger. Break into small groups of 2–3 students, assign each group a positive response behavior, and ask them to create a visually appealing poster about the positive behavior. Display the posters around the room and discuss each one, emphasizing to students that we can choose whether to respond positively or negatively to anger.
Invite a Professional to the Classroom (Friday)
Contact a local expert on anger management to visit the class. Share with the professional the results of your class discussion and invite students to ask questions of the visitor. This professional may also be equipped to conduct guided role-plays or to present case studies to the class. If you do invite a guest speaker, you may want to ask them to discuss the amount of time involved in changing a behavior and to help students to establish realistic goals for managing their anger.