As I was watching my favorite hockey team the other day, I noticed something that struck me during one of the brawls that (for whatever reason) still occur in the almost every game. I was amazed as the guy wearing the black and white striped shirt held two huge athletes at bay and got them to stop fighting without even being phased. He calmly talked to both players, they released their stranglehold on one another, and the game continued (after penalty minutes were distributed, of course). I immediately thought about so many issues that I've seen with classroom management, and how this guy might have the solution.
I know what you're thinking: "what does this have to do with me, my students, or my classroom?"
Let me explain. The ref was able to calm down two extremely angry players, and continue the purpose of the event because he didn't get emotionally charged, maintained his expectations, and focused on getting the game going again. This is exactly how we as teachers need to address disruptions and management issues in our classrooms.
Before I get to far, I want to point out that there are systems, routines, procedures, and a myriad of other pieces that go into good management, such as building relationships. For right now though, I'd like to keep talk about re-focusing students and reducing the stress level of a situation that has gotten 'out of hand'.
When you are managing a situation that has gotten away from you, think like that referee in the hockey game.
You've set your rules...enforce them.
Hopefully you have set the expectations for how students should behave in your classroom, and spelled out consequences that are understood by everyone. Stick to them. It shouldn't matter who the student is or if you're extra frustrated that day. Enforce your set policies and rules. Don't change them. Be consistent. Your students will react when they know you aren't going to back down and that you are just enforcing your policy for the betterment of everyone.
One of the easiest ways to make any situation worse is getting upset or emotionally charged. Like the ref I saw in the game, remain calm and don't add to the anger, frustration, or stress of the scenario that's going on in your classroom. Just correct the action taking place with a calm tone of voice, student centered discussion, and focus on calming down or removing the student to a safer location.
Get back to the game.
Your goal should be to get your students back to learning again. Always make this your primary focus. You may need to deal with repercussions, student actions, or other factors afterwards, but your single goal (like the ref) should be to get the game going again. Get your students back on track. It's very easy to focus on the issues, but that can cause you to lose an entire class of instruction due to a single incident. Don't let that happen.
The next time you have an outburst or management issue in your class, just think about how you approach and deal with the student or students involved. Stay calm, stay in control, and get back to the game!