Dealing with Anger in the Classroom: Labeling Emotions

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Check Out the New Blog One way to deal with anger in the classroom is by labeling students’ emotions.

To start, validate the student’s emotion by acknowledging it. When the teacher observes that a student seems angry or upset, the instructor labels the emotion that seems to be driving the student’s behavior.

Labeling emotions can be a helpful tactic in de-escalating controntations arising from anger in the classroom by prompting students to acknowledge their current feeling-state directly rather than continuing to communicate it indirectly by acting it out.

For example, a teacher who observes a student slamming his/her books down on the desk and muttering after returning from gym class might say to the student, “You seem angry. Would you like to tell me what is wrong?”

Once a powerful emotion such as anger is labeled, the teacher and student can then talk about it, figure out what may have triggered it and jointly find solutions that will mitigate it.

Labeling emotions should be done in a tentative manner (“Jayson, you sound nervous…”, “Jessica, you appear frustrated…”), since one can never know, with complete certainty, what feelings another person is experiencing.

How do you deal with anger outbursts in your classroom?

From Professional Learning Board’s online continuing education course for teachers: Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies

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