I Hate My Students: Anger Management In ESL Classroom


Many ESL teachers reach the point where they have had enough with their students. Many of us bring this overwhelming anger into the classroom. If this has ever happened to you, you certainly are not alone. According to the recent study, only 5 of the 301 students could not remember any episode of the specific teacher being angry.

According to McPherson, M. B., Kearney, P., and Plax, T. G. in their “The Dark Side of Instruction: Teacher Anger as Classroom Norm Violations,” it is alright to express your anger when you “avoid intense, aggressive anger displays and instead assertively and directly discuss the problem with the class.” If you do express anger in a violent or abusive way, those expressions negatively influence student learning. Here are some tips to keep yourself cool!

  1. What makes you angry?Once you have discovered your anger triggers, you will be able to overcome or avoid them. Some of them could be:
  • Students being disrespective
  • Noisy students
  • Students breaking class rules
  • Students failing to understand grammar rules, etc.
  1. Avoid anger triggers by implementing right teaching methods.There are no bad students; there are many ineffective teaching methods, poorly written textbooks, and negative learning environments. You have to know each student’s background and behavioral characteristics in order to choose an appropriate strategy and class materials. Many students behave badly simply because of being bored. In the previous article on classroom management, we have discussed how to present yourself to the class in order to avoid behavioral problems in the future.

Watch this awesome video lecture of the famous Dr. Harry Wong on “Discipline and Procedure:”

For more information on successful classroom management, use The First Days Of School: How To Be An Effective Teacher by Dr. Harry Wong.

  1. Meditation, Sport and Humor

If the problem is not student behavior but cultural or personal aspects, you may use meditation, sport, and humor. Many teachers in China get really mad when ESL students add “-la” or “-a” in the end of each and every word (friend-a, ok-la, good-a). You cannot blame students, as this is something they do unintentionally; moreover they don’t break any rules. Yet, many teachers get very angry and can be quite violent to students.

What can you do about this?

Try different relaxation methods like taking deep breaths. Some teachers like counting to 10; others prefer gripping the pencil tightly until you feel relieved.

Sports are probably the best way to handle stress after work. Boxing, yoga, salsa, or any other physical activity can help you to relief the negative energy.

Don’t raise your voice. Yelling at your students is not a good classroom management strategy. In fact, you have every chance to lose the respect of your students. Replace your anger by laughter. The good-natured and non-sarcastic humor that does not hurt feelings can serve as a “reminder” to behave well or avoid certain mistakes.

Read More: The Most Unusual And Yet Effective Methods Of Controlling My Classroom

If you still cannot control your emotions, consider counseling.

The Texas Education Agency has created an awesome video series on Anger Management to provide educators with a case study on poor ethical choices which display extreme behaviors that are not tolerated as an education professional. These videos are worth watching:

Have you ever been angree with your students? Have you ever used humor to cool down? How do you handle anger in the classroom? Please, share your experience in the comment section below!


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