10 Tips for Managing Students While Angry

Managing Students While Angry can be a little tricky

Managing Students While Angry makes teaching a really complex activity, Behaviour Management is tough at the best of times and, although this my be true, it can be tougher in the relief teaching classroom.

Although teacher training courses might prepare teachers in the content know-how and delivery, few courses put much energy into giving new teachers expertise in managing student behaviour. Especially the skills required in managing students while angry.

So what do teachers do?

Certainly, Managing Student Behaviour, in what is already a high-stress profession, remains the most significant stressors for teachers.

Managing students while angry is  ...  

  • the single most stated cause of teacher burn-out
  • one of the most suggested reason for teachers exiting the system,
  • a situation which generates most parent complaints
  • and the most investigated event on the education front.

Managing Students While Angry is what parents expect teachers to do with 30 kids what they can't do with 2.

The Danger Zone

managing students while angry

When you are managing students while angry You can reach the DANGER ZONE too quickly.

​Tom Cruise did it in Top Gun. He often had THAT huge rush of blood that brings on poor choices. The shackles rise, the blood pressure shoots up, the brain throbs and you are right in the DANGER ZONE.

When you get this hot under the collar,  you are in the old fight or flight mode. While in this danger zone your behaviour management strategies could involve lashing out. You are in the same zone that protected cave man from being eaten.

But in the classroom you could well "club yourself" out of a job.

Your Brain and Managing Students While Angy

The brain is pretty complex - (You might not believe this with some of the students which take your behaviour management energy and you deal with daily.)

You can read about anger and the brain in depth if you wish. Essentially when you get angry, the areas of the brain which are responsible for reasoning, logic, effective decision making are put on the back burner.

All the energy is put into the zone where you fight, rush, protect yourself, respond quickly to defend and keep yourself safe. Not good for effective behaviour management.

managing Students while angry

That's why, when we are angry, we don't always make the most appropriate behaviour management decisions. The more angry you get, the less effective is your decision making skills.

Managing Students While Angry - The Group Riot

A big problem is this situation is contagious. People who are angry make others around them angry - hence the group riot syndrome.

When you are managing students while angry, you are hyper-vigilant. You are looking for threats. Your behaviour management strategy now includes scanning the room and anyone looking sideways receives your considered scrutiny. If they even look like threatening your authority, they will receive a spray.

So what does that mean for you in the classroom?

If you come into the classroom all fired up, expect the kids to be prepared to fire up as well. It is the snarling dog syndrome. The more adolescent the brain the more fire. In reality, the whole classroom is in the DANGER ZONE.

I would like to say don't get angry in the first place but that would be ridiculous. Of course some behaviours are going to make you angry. These behaviours strike at the very core of why you became a teacher in the first place.

Teachers invest so much emotional capital in their job, it is ridiculous to say you won't become angry when some little turkey spoils your parade.

Tips for managing students while angry.


or 100 or 1000. An oldie but a goodie. This gets the blood flowing into the reasoning sections of the brain. While your blood is pumping, you have to take control of your actions.


... even whisper . This reduces the tension in the classroom and gives you the semblance of being control. Don't forget your managing stduents while angry might be targeted towards 1 student but the other 29 kids are focussed on you. Use Anger as ONE of your many Behaviour Management Tools Use your anger as one of many tools.

If you have a big voice, it should be only one of the tools in your repertoire. When you get it out, use it for short burst. A big noise is designed to get the blood flowing in the KIDS brain not YOU. After using it, quickly revert to your normal teaching voice. If you need to display your anger, do it in short bursts and STRAIGHT AWAY revert to normal teaching - even if your blood is still thumping.


When a STUDENT is receiving a blast they seldom remember anything being said - they just remember the TONE in which it being said. While you are harping on about the number of times you have told them, how sick and tired you are of bad behaviour, why should put more effort into their work, how they are interfering with this and that and they don't have the right .... All they are hearing is BLAH! BLAH! - just loudly.

Keep the message short. 


Never (EVER! NEVER!) get into a dialogue. You know the little smart alecs who will say. "No I wasn't!" and as soon as they say they you FEEL YOU have to respond. Within a few seconds you have a verbal stoush on your hands. If you are managing student while angry, you are already close to the danger zone. The last thing you need is verbal interaction with someone else who is also approaching the danger zone.


We often lose sight of the forest for the trees. Not every student in your class would be causing you grief. At least I hope not. It may feel like that, but it is unlikely to be the case.

Quickly scan those positive kids who NEVER cause you problems and start interacting with them. Check their understanding. Offer your help. Provide positive feedback about their work, or their attitude. Start teaching them directly.

This will not only make you feel more positive but you can bet that the little dipsticks around will also be listening to the interaction.

Perhaps, they might decide that they want "IN" on this type of feel good discourse.

Sometimes these little dipsticks are hard to convince but the more good kids you turn into advocates, the less influential the recalcitrants will be.


Nothing gets the purpose "juices" flowing than revisiting the learn term goal. Restate the purpose of your activity to yourself and the students. At the end of this hour I would like you to

  • Write your own story
  • Learn the names of Australian States
  • Identify the main point of the articles...

What ever the goal is, create a focus and a pathway to achieving the goal.


Surely you have heard that a thousand times before. It is a little adage but it has some meaning. I know what you are going to say! But the rotten kid made a choice about this behaviour - and I fully agree. But keep the behaviour in perspective.

I have seen relief teachers (and teachers) too often blow things right out of perspective. Sure breaking a pencil, throwing a paper, whistling out loud, swinging on a chair might be behaviour management infringements but really....


The only reason you manage student behaviour in your classroom is to bring about effective learning. It is NOT about punishing kids, retribution, prove a point or causing fear. It is about setting the best possible environment for learning.

So as soon as you can GET BACK ON TRACK. So give a spray to the offender as you like but keep your mind on the task at hand. GET BACK TO LEARNING.


Asking kids questions in the heat of the moment is very (repeat VERY) dangerous. If you are carrying out an investigation then by all means; ask away. If you are managing students while angry and perhaps giving kids a spray, never ask a question.

Honestly, the kids are probably more street wise than you and asking them a question gives them back the power, the stage and the audience. The kids will come back with a smart answer, the other kids in the class will laugh and quite frankly your authority has just gone down the gurgler. It is very difficult to recover. And you really didn't want to know the answer, anyway.


Usually there are a whole range of mitigating circumstances and as a relief teacher, you may not know all the facts. But this is not an investigation. That comes later.

You just want to TEACH and you just want the kids to LEARN. Irrespective of what comes before or after, make it clear that the behaviour you are dealing with is interfering with your class. Deal with all the other issues at another time.  It is not easy the see everything that goes on in the classroom. You could be responding to the actions of a victim.

Anger is a normal human emotion. But if it is the only emotion of your teaching day, then you are probably in the wrong job.

Managing students while angry can be a tool like any other behaviour management tool in your relief teaching repertoire.

Would you like more ideas on How to Manage Student Behaviour?

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