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Anger Management Strategies for Teachers

Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

In this lesson, we will discuss several strategies that teachers can use to help manage their own anger in the classroom. We will cover instances of incident-induced anger, as well as more general long-term anger.

The Patience of Saints

Teaching is one of the most rewarding (and one of the most frustrating) professions a person can choose. Someone willing to enthusiastically take on the role of caring for dozens of other people's children, day in and day out, for their entire career must be able to cope with the stress and anxiety that inevitably accompany such a task. Obviously teachers are human and, therefore, have the potential to succumb to negative emotions that may lead to anger. Because teachers are responsible for teaching students academics as well as social skills, demonstrating good coping skills and anger management strategies is critical to being a successful teacher.

Self-Care

Long-term anger management requires a comprehensive routine of self-care. Self-care is a series of activities a person can do to take care of themselves. These activities can be emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual, or social and interpersonal. It's important to incorporate a self-care strategy no matter what your chosen profession, but is especially important for teachers given the stress level of the job.

Incorporating activities towards self-care into a daily routine might mean maintaining a schedule so you don't forget to do something nice for yourself every day. Some examples of self-care activities that fit into a number of the categories above include: good eating and sleeping habits; personal hygiene; getting enough exercise; maintaining relationships with family and friends; meditation, prayer, or other spiritual activities; and even talking to a professional or therapist.

One of the ways to determine some good activities for self-care may be to think about those things you do that make you forget to eat or go to the bathroom. This means you've put yourself into a state of hypnosis and you are in 'the zone.' When your brain is in this state, it heals itself from stress, trauma, and anxiety. For some people, this is gardening, knitting, listening to music or playing an instrument, or some other kind of hobby that helps you get lost in your own mind. Actively pursuing these kinds of activities can help retrain your brain to find that state of calm in the moment it's most needed.

In the Moment

While a comprehensive self-care strategy can help reduce incidents of anger overall, it helps to have activities that one can do during class when teaching becomes stressful. Frequently, students will deliberately try to incite anger in a teacher as a strategy for manipulating and controlling adults. For this reason it is critical that a teacher avoid allowing students to have such an impact.

Occasionally, a teacher may lose their cool, so a few things that you can do to manage anger and prevent students from taking advantage of the situation might be to control your breathing, count backwards from ten, visualize calming words, and imagine a peaceful place that feels safe and secure. It may not be feasible to do visualization or meditation exercises during class, so it may help to have a standby activity or assignment that students can do to provide the necessary moment to get composed.

Deliberately controlling the tone of one's voice to ensure that anger is not as evident to others can actually help prevent the onset of anger. This is very important because negative emotions can be apparent from tone, and speaking in an angry tone encourages others to respond similarly. This may escalate the situation rather than calm things down. Think of your voice as a mood mirror, reflecting your demeanor onto the person you speak to. People often mimic others' tone when talking, so calming your voice can calm their voice too.

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