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School Fights: How to Calm Your Classroom

Joe Baker


School Fights: How to Calm Your Classroom"There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children." ~ Nelson Mandela

When you decided to major in education, it is likely that you had aspirations of instilling knowledge in young minds and making a difference in the lives of children. Hopefully, you have had many satisfying and rewarding experiences that have made your career worthwhile. One thing that you likely did not anticipate was potential violence in the classroom.

YouTube and other sites have made it popular to record fights and post them online for the purpose of temporary fame, and this has leaked over into the classroom, creating unforeseen challenges for teachers and students alike.

Some teachers seem content to stand by and allow the students to duke it out; others stop the fight before it even begins, although this can sometimes result in injury to the teacher; still others feel compelled to fight the students themselves. If you find yourself in the position of having to break up a fight, what should you do about violence in the classroom?

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Set High Expectations for Your Students

Often, it is easy to categorize your students:

  • these are the ones who will eventually study for their physics degree,
  • these are the "troublemakers," or
  • these are the ones who "just don't get it", and so forth.

To some extent, this is human nature and therefore inevitable.

Rather than making judgments about your students, however, why not start each day fresh, and encourage all of your students—not just a select few—to strive for greatness, both in the classroom and outside of it? Often, "troublemakers" bent on causing violence in the classroom are that way because they instinctively know that this is what is expected of them. If, instead, you treat everyone as if they are the high achievers and "A" students, you may well be surprised at the difference it will make in your classroom and the behavior of your students.

Remember Who The Adult Is

Children frequently display impulsive behavior. Whether it's manifested in making poor choices or starting fights, this tendency can frequently be seen. Accordingly, when teachers are confronted with violence, it is imperative that they take control of the situation before it spirals out of control.

This can be done by simply standing up and demanding that the students stop; children will usually respond to a commanding tone and clear instructions. In the event that the students persist in their violent behavior, immediately call for help and work with another teacher or administrator to break up the fight.

[[TeachHUB Recommendation: Need additional Classroom Management training? Contact the K-12 Teachers Alliance to learn more about in-service professional development.]]

Don't Give Students Time to Fight

By reducing downtime and keeping your students engaged, you can eliminate many opportunities for a fight to erupt.

Challenge your students daily; engage their minds and keep them involved in your lessons. If students are bored, they are far more likely to look for ways to alleviate this boredom by talking and fighting.

If there are transitions in your lesson plan—moving from whole group discussion to independent work, for example—make these changes as smoothly as you can to minimize disruptions.

Always Pay Attention in Class

You expect this of your students, so why not follow suit? By staying tuned in to your students at all times, you will be able to spot troublesome behavior before it even begins, and you will be able to redirect those students to activities that will deepen their engagement with the lessons.

This isn't to say that you should single out any of your students—far from it. To the contrary, if you make a habit of closely observing and interacting with your class, your students will come to expect this of you, and they will be far less likely to think that they can take advantage of a lull to start a fight.

While many things have changed in the classroom over the last decade or so, many things haven't (and won't). Children need an education in order to be the best adults they can be, especially with the increased demands of employers. By making their success a priority, you will find that your classroom will not only appreciate and respond to your efforts, but you will find more fulfillment and satisfaction with your chosen career.

How do you prevent violence in the classroom and keep it calm? Share in the comments section!

[[TeachHUB Recommendation: Need additional Classroom Management training? Contact the K-12 Teachers Alliance to learn more about in-service professional development.]]

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