Anger in the Classroom

Yesterday I talked about four instructional goals. I have one other main goal this year, and frankly, it’s my number one goal – it’s not instructional per se, but it absolutely affects instruction, because it affects the classroom environment.


I have a temper, and I just...get mad quickly. My biggest pet peeve is kids talking when they aren’t supposed to, whether that’s when I’m talking or when they’re supposed to be working, or (worst of all!) when another student is talking. It drives me up the wall, because it comes across as so incredibly disrespectful, and it’s such a waste of time, and we have so little time as it is, really. And then I get angry, and then I yell, and then no one is happy.

It’s not good. I know this. It’s a huge problem, honestly, and I’m deeply ashamed of it (I’m ashamed enough that I really don’t want to be writing this post, but again, pushing past my comfort zone). Because really, who likes to be yelled at? No one. I sure don’t. It sucks. So how can I justify behaving like that to my kids?

At the end of the year, I did a little student survey – what they’d liked, what they hadn’t, what they and I had done well at, what they and I could have done better with. Answers varied in most categories, but one…one was consistent. What I could do better was yell less*. Almost half my kids wrote a variation on that theme.

I read those, and it made me sad, and embarrassed, and angry with myself for letting that happen. And I resolved to do better next year. Now I’m hoping that posting this here will also help me change – public accountability and all that. I’m not sure just how to manage it yet, but I’m hoping just being aware of the issue will make me notice it more when I start, and that will remind me to stop. I have one other thing I’m going to try that I hope will help, but I’ll post about that another time.

Here’s what I’m going to do. Once a month, let’s say on the first Monday of each month (I will put it in my Google calendar to remind me), I will post about how I’m doing with the yelling. That will keep me focused on it. Plus, you know, public shaming if I’m not doing well, but public congratulations if I am! Of course, if you all think this is the worst idea ever (the posting about it part, not the reduction in yelling part), then I’m sure I could be convinced to do that differently. But I think it might help.

So stay tuned for the first Monday in September (two months from now, just about), and find out how I’m doing with it after my first few weeks with the eighth graders.

*They wrote that, or to do nothing differently – many of my little charmers wrote things like, “Nothing because you are the best teacher ever!!!!!!” Suck ups. And these were anonymous, so they didn’t even need to. :)

(Awesome Anger Bot image credit to StickBus)


cupcake said...

I chuckled when I read this because I had a similar experience. In the survey I handed out, my students said that they would advise their classmates not to get on my bad side. I was shocked - shocked, I tell you - at how resoundingly that sentiment flowed through them. I thought, "I have a bad side?" I've had to rewind the tape and find the places where I picked on kids or otherwise exhibited a bad side.

I yell too. And when they bitch about my yelling, I tell them that if they paid attention when I used my indoor voice, then I wouldn't have to yell. Well, and there is the fact that I'm just plain loud.

Good luck with your less yelling resolution. You may just inspire me to not exhibit a bad side.

Tracey said...

Sometimes when I'm in the middle of a rant, (we all do it), I hear myself and how ridiculous I sound, and I have to stop and laugh. "Look what you made me do!" I tell my students, "Sorry, but it really is frustrating when you don't listen. Can we please go back to work now?"

So what if you have a temper? Just own and let it go.

Rachel said...

I'm surprised! You seem so...zen!

I don't yell often but I hate myself when I do. Ugh, I feel AWFUL afterward. That silence and those cowering looks...ugh, hate it. I wish you luck with your new goal/resolution!

teachin' said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, all! Cupcake, I too am loud and that's not going to change, but I think there's a difference in just having a loud teacher voice and actually yelling in anger. It's the latter I need to work on.

Tracey, I think I will always have a temper - it's part of who I am. And I will say that while I get mad fast, I get over it fast too, which is good, right? But I feel like I need to work on this since this was the biggest issue my kids had with me. I've heard them talk about some other teachers who yell a lot and how it makes them feel, and I don't want to make them feel that way. At least not all the time - no way will I be able to stop yelling 100% of the time but hopefully it will get better!

Rachel, thank you for the good wishes...and I appreciate that I at least appear zen. Maybe I can turn the appearance into the reality. That'd be pretty sweet.

"I'm a dreamer but I ain't the only one Got problems but we love to have fun" -K'naan, "Dreamer"

I teach eighth grade Language Arts at an urban school. My kids kick ass and will change the world. I want everyone to know.
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