Managing your emotions around their behaviour Soaring stress levels, damaging numbers signed off and leaving the profession, work overload and ruined personal lives…such headlines are synonymous with teaching in our current climate. Added to this is conversation about violent students, constant low level disruption and outright defiance, lack of support from management and plummeting confidence for teachers. How much does student behaviour contribute to the problems of recruiting and retaining teachers? It’s certainly not the only, or even the key issue, but according to our community here, it is the cause of relentless professional negativity for teachers and routinely disrupted lessons for students. We repeatedly discuss techniques for managing behaviour: strategies to try, policies to amend, conversations to have, methods for punishing and rewarding…The onus is always firmly on the teacher to drive these changes. We are expected to Identify the issues, research the appropriate methods, consistently implement the strategies, ask for and accept help, find time to meet with parents and colleagues, deliver personalised behaviour plans for individual needs amongst a class of 32, and challenge the management in our place of work in order to deal with student behaviour. Furthermore, we should do it all calmly and considerately, never showing you are riled or allowing your own feelings to interfere with the agreed behaviour policy. This carries an enormous emotional toll. So, what can you do to manage your emotions around the behaviour of your students? Keep things in perspective. Although teaching for many represents a true vocation, it is also a job that pays the way. You need to do your best but it doesn’t have to define you, nor do the bad days or the students that are a struggle. Rephrase things to put yourself first. Don’t shout, not because it’s the right thing for the students but because you can’t spend your professional life stressed and shouting. Be consistent, not just for their sake but because it enables you to maintain control and plan your responses. When you employ pre-planned responses to a variety of situations, you can remove your own emotions and act automatically. It’s your system, not you personally. Remember that you can act pre-emptively and encourage good behaviour but that won’t always prevent some students acting up. Poor behaviour doesn’t signal poor teaching and part of our job is to react. You are not being judged by the way they behave, but on your response and this you can control. Take confidence from that. Shore up your responses and don’t fear bad behaviour. Keep sight of the positives. Allow yourself to enjoy the good relationships within even a difficult class. Avoid thinking of a class as one body and focus on the individuals within it. This makes things much more manageable. Ask for help for yourself, not just the class. Find the time to off load to someone, ideally a colleague to keep the separation between work and home. Non-teaching friends can also be useful as they invariably find the tales of student behaviour more amusing than those involved with it daily. Talk about events, what was said or yelled or thrown, and then move forward. Keep in mind the cyclical nature of our job. You will never be stuck with a situation you’re struggling to improve for that long. New beginnings abound. Above all, look after yourself whatever ways you can. You’re doing an important job. What else can you suggest for us to consider to help keep our own emotions under control when dealing with difficult behaviour? I’d love to hear your tips.