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Teaching is the epitome of the idiom, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” This is especially true of classroom management. As a successful classroom leader, a teacher begins the year with a well-planned management plan. It includes rules and consequences and addresses building relationships, creating a safe, organized physical environment, and instilling active learning though student engagement. But even when all these critical pieces are consistently utilized by the teacher, student behavior can blow up when you least expect it. There will be occasions in a classroom when the gauge on student behavior doesn’t predict the explosive reactions that students have, and teachers need to know in advance how to proceed and maintain a calm, safe classroom environment.

A student meltdown

General education teachers are seeing an increased amount of students with emotional disorders, characterized by extreme anger and defiance. Usually these children are mainstreamed in the regular education system, per the regulations of the least restrictive environment principle, supported by the U.S. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that governs the education of students with disabilities and other special needs. Although this protects the rights of students with emotional disabilities, it can wreak havoc on the classroom and cause a great deal of stress for the general education teacher. When one of these students (or any other) has an angry outburst, it is always the teacher’s priority to maintain a safe environment for all the children in the classroom, while using calming techniques to deescalate the situation.

It’s time to hold a class meeting or town hall to discuss what went down and why.

Once a student begins hitting, biting, or punching a teacher, it is time for the student to leave the classroom. It may seem to be a simple solution to call the office for help, but many times the secretaries or administrators are busy or out of the office, and the escalating anger of the student could impact other students’ safety while you are on the phone, looking for help.

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