Top De-Escalation Tips for Classroom Disturbances

If not dealt with properly, defiant student behavior will lead to more disturbances. De-escalation is the key to confrontational students. The majority of teachers will never have any problems with one.

Teaching is a relatively safe profession. But for upper grades, there is always the risk. The students are bigger and have different wants and needs. Teachers should be prepared to confront a student who is raising the stakes in the classroom.

Dealing with disruptive students should actually start before the disruption. A teacher needs to be well organized and efficient in running a classroom. Above all, have your classroom discipline and classroom management down. You also need to create a positive classroom. If these three are in pace, the chances of you having a confrontation with a student are greatly reduced.

One of the best things you can do with a confrontational student is nothing. At least for a few seconds. Give the student a chance to back away. Above all, do not get angry. Do not lose your cool. You have a classroom of other students who are watching you, and are also relying on you to maintain order and peace. If you get angry, you will be seen as someone who is not in charge anymore. You don't want that. You need to maintain professionalism. Do not get lowered to the student's level.

19 Top De-Escalation Strategies:

1. Always stay calm, cool, and collected.

2. Make a joke, use some humor!

3. Ignore the outburst, ask them a question on the lesson.

4. Encourage them and point out a positive side of the student.

5. Be willing to change your teaching approach.

6. Validate the student in any way you can.

7. Don't over-react and always listen.

8. Apologize for any wrong they perceive.

9. Don't give commands, like: sit down, calm down, be quiet, shut up, knock it off, etc.

10. Be empathetic. Choose to put yourself in the student's place.

11. Don't take anything personally. Very important!

12. Always give positive remarks.

13. Remind the student they are not in trouble and you do not want them to be.

14. Never, ever, blow up!

15. Explain how you are there for them and want them to succeed.

16. Always be respectful. Do not en up on YouTube!

17. Do what works for this moment, move on.

18. After class or school, reflect on went wrong, what went right.

19. Ask other teachers for advice. Each teacher has one good idea. You cannot implement all their ideas because you are NOT them. 20. Remember, tomorrow is another day!

Do not raise your voice. A yelling and screaming teacher is seen as an out of control teacher. Again, if you seem out of control, the whole class can dip into chaos. You speaking in a calm, but firm voice, can do wonders at least to diffuse the situation. Yelling will never solve anything. Maintain your cool at all cost.

Other students in your classroom may feel emboldened to get in on the action. They may want to be on either side. They see the teacher as someone who may need protecting. Do not allow any student to get involved. You will only escalate the situation. Now instead of just one student, you may have several to deal with. You cannot do this.

Your goal as a teacher with a confrontational student is to lower the steam. Even if it is just until the bell rings. Most of the time a few stern, calm words can lessen the tension for at least the last minutes of class. That's your goal. To make it to the end, then contact the principal about what happened.

Some students are defiant or clowning as a way of getting attention. The less they get, the better.

Or....give them what they want! Keep them active and engaged. Ask them questions. Get them to do chores for you, like pass out papers, collect, erase the board. etc.

Form a relationship with them. It takes time, but each day maybe get's a little better.

Talk to other students outside of class. Get them onboard not egging the situation on.

Try and avoid a punishment for most times. Sending a student out of the room does nothing for the student. Or you, for that matter. Keeping students in your classroom is a goal. After all, what will they learn going to the office? That they get a break from boring classwork?

If you have a chance, you may wish to talk to the student alone, after class. Not alone in the classroom, but in full view in the hall or school yard. Talk like two adults. This can actually work very well.

There are many other articles here to help in this situation. It is all related. Having a positive classroom, welcoming students, be cheerful, don't assign lame homework, keep the students active and engaged, etc.

Think about what triggers the student(s). Keep pencils, paper, supplies, and other things available to all students.

If the student cannot stay in a seat, think outside the box. Can you teach standing right next to them as a block? Did you assign something that the student can complete at a desk?

Many times we, as teachers, do not realize that the very work we ask them to do is part of the problem. A hard assignment, completing alone at a desk, might not be beneficial to anyone. let alone the problem student.

Many students act up because they feel they cannot accomplish the work, so why bother? Why not upset the class! Think about that.

Writing a detention or office referral does not really work. Most of the time, the kids just get lip service and are right back. In fact, I believe this is counterproductive. It becomes a game. You kick the student out, they come back, repeat. They will wear you down before they wear you down.

A call home may not help either if you have never called home before. Calling home the first time for a behavior problem is crazy. The parent has every right to wonder where you have been. Telephoning home can be a powerful tool. But you need to call home to every parent at least once or twice the first week of school. This alone will put parents and students on notice that you are going to have them be an active party. Make it an ongoing effort.

One caution. Teachers are not police. If a student is really getting out of hand, you need to make the judgment that you need help. Call the office immediately.


Should Teachers Assign Homework? - Meaningful and enjoyable assignments are best.

New Teacher Tips - Teaching is tough. Get help BEFORE you need it.

Classroom Games - Give the students a break. Play a game!

Classroom Discipline - Control the behavior of your students.

Classroom Management - Make your classroom run smoothly.


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