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The First Step With An Out-Of-Control Class

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It’s not to teach your classroom management plan.

With an out-of-control class, bringing up rules right away will fall on deaf ears. No, the first step after losing control or taking over an unruly class is to remove excitability.

You see, in poorly behaved classrooms excitability is always present.

The students can’t sit still. They can’t stay quiet. They can’t listen or even look in the same direction.

The culture is broken and can only heal when restlessness, tension, and agitation are removed. Only then can you introduce your classroom management plan and get a handle on misbehavior.

But how? How do you settle a stirred beehive?

There is a way. It takes discipline and confidence, but it works no matter the class. In fact, it’s been used over and over again here at SCM. It might be one of our most tested strategies.

So what is it?

It’s to become so calm yourself that your peaceful energy spreads to every student in the class. I know it sounds new-agey, but it’s effective.

Optimally, you want to be in a complete state of calm, both body and mind, before your students arrive. Your breaths full, your body loose, your moves graceful and efficient.

You may want to take time to sit in silence, meditate, or do some light stretching. Once in front of your students, continue to breathe—fully, in and out, focusing on the exhale.

Often it’s best just to stand and let your energy seep like a fog rolling over the bustle of a big city. Smile, make eye contact, say hello if you wish.

By your presence alone you’re pulling your students into your corner, on your side, and within your sphere of influence. Your calm likability will give you just enough space to be heard and listened to.

When you do speak you may have to gently ask students to sit and quiet down. You may have to repeat yourself. At this initial stage, it’s okay. Move up and down the aisles, making connections and asking for compliance.

Do not threaten or make demands. Do not get frustrated or show fear.

Keep your voice soft but confident. Pause often. As the tension and excitability starts to lift, then stroll to the front. Stand in one place and breathe. Breathe some more.

Your students may think your weird but they’ll be drawn to you. You’ll see more eyes and smiles and deeper breaths. A relaxed vibe will settle over the room.

If they’re still restless, ask them to stand and follow you in some easy stretching.

This will get them heading in the right direction, listening, following instruction, doing what you’re asking them to do—all of which will transfer once they sit down. Stretch from side to side. Twist back and forth.

Do a standing yoga pose or two. Continue until all but a small few are following along.

Now you should have them, a short window of time and space where they’re ready to begin listening and learning. If it takes longer, fine. But sweep excitability out first.

Build connection. Establish likability. Bring in fresh oxygen, a new vibe, and a common, more peaceful wavelength. Breathe in and out. Smile.

Now teach your classroom management plan like your life depended on it.

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