Do you have a student who stands out from the classmates as being aggressive and violent? If yes, don’t ignore it. You’re not doing any favors for the student or community. If you think that the student will grow up and stop expressing aggression, you are very wrong. It will only increase the likelihood of further aggression which can even result in committing a crime!
But what exactly should we do to prevent verbal or physical aggression from a student? As a teacher, you should avoid responding with aggression to aggression. Nonaggressive response tools can be removal of rewards, deprivation of fun activities, inviting parents to the school. Yet, it is best to prevent aggression and violence in the classroom before it occurs. Follow these simple, yet effective, strategies:
1. Separate aggressor and victims. Normally dominant students who display aggression have a few “victims” that work like a trigger. Make sure that the aggressor and the potential victim don’t sit together and don’t leave the room at the same time.
2. Establish Procedures. According to Dr. Wong, effective teachers manage their classrooms with procedures, ineffective teachers discipline the students. The “procedures” include functional and realistic norms of behavior that students will have to obey in the classroom. More details on procedures read in unit C of. The rules for classrooms should contain a clear “action-reaction” activities. So students who commit violent acts know what to expect and what the punishment will be, while students who behave well can expect the benefits. Make it clear at the beginning of the school year and you can expect less problems. Always follow the system, so the students know these are not empty words.
3. Minimize a competition. Competition in the classroom can trigger violent students. Cooperative learning strategies can minimize competitions and enhance team work skills.
4. Use nonverbal signals. According to the recent studies, aggressive students respond better to the use of signals rather than teacher talk. Use body language signals of stop, stand, and silence to cool down the aggressive student.
5. Early Intervention. Don’t let the situation escalate to destructive and dangerous levels. You can do it through assigning a short interesting task, engaging the student in relaxation exercises, and engaging into problem-solving discussion.
6. Never leave students alone and never turn your back. This is a “golden rule” for teachers of challenging students. Constant supervision is a must.
7. Be Prepared for Violent Behaviour. It’s important to recognize signals that usually precede a violent behaviour in order to prevent a crisis. Some of the signals can be: turning red, cursing, crying, strange noises, and so on.
Sometimes teachers feel afraid of students who display aggressive and violent behaviors. In order to be an effective teacher, use the practical classroom strategies discussed above. Knowing how to spot and avoid a possible episode of aggression and violence can help you move from fear to confidence in managing challenging students.
How do you deal with aggressive students? Please, share your experience below!