“Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.”
– Proverbs 16:32 NIV
Of the 4 Goals of Misbehavior, the next 2 are the most challening and difficult to work with and pose the greatest threat to your perosnal and professional well-being. I have learned to classify attention seeking behavior as the horse fly that intrudes your personal space. There is an immediate annoyance and irritation from the intrusion alone. An open window, door or fly swatter usually resolves that problem with minimal stress and duress. Now imagine that horse fly continuing to invade your tranqulity with what appears to be a devious intent to escalate your annoyance to frustration and anger because it insists on flying in and out of your personal space evading every attempt you take to swat at it all the while instensifying your anger. Just before you turn your room upside down in the attempt to take the horse fly out, it escapes. You’re relieved, but emotionally or mentally it almost felt like you were in a wrestling match and despite the size of your opponent they gave you a good workout. (lol) That’s what power behavior can be like when you’re engaged in a power struglle with one of your students. regardless of their size to you, when a power struggle ensues it can really work you over mentally and emotionally if you take the bait and engage a student toe to toe with anger. Being one who prided themselves at one point in my professional career with arguing with my students during a power struggle, wisdom taught me to not argue if I believed I was right. Of course that insight was both humblinb and humiliating to see how far I allowed my pride to take me in a power struggle with my students, but I know I am not alone (lol).
Before we talk about the intervention strategies, it is critical to be able to differentiate the clues of attention seeking behavior from power, because if you use attention seeking strategies for power behavior it will not work in resolving the misbehavior and redirecting the student. When its attention your emotional pressure guage is mild and you feel irritated and annoyed. You usually will respond with nagging, scolding, reminding or rescuing. The student stops temporarily (most important clue), but because they need attention, they’ll be back! (Terminator plug)
Clues for Power Behavior are as follows:
- Emotional Pressure Guage reads HOT
- You feel: angry or frustrated
- You react by fighting or fleeing
- Student’s reaction: stops on their own terms or continues
By my 3rd year I was using anger to control my classroom and certain students, but because students choose their own behavior I will never have control over my students. What I am feeling the loss of control over when misbehavior begins and erupts in my classroom, is the sense of losing control of myself. Before I can engage any student, I should seek to make sure I’m in control before attempting to influence or affect positive change within the student. When it’s power being calm, firm and persistent (being authoritative without the authoritarian attitude) is most effective consistently, though not always easy to model when you’re angry. With practice, patience and determination it is possible. Take it from someone who had to learn first hand, you will see the positive results in learning to use what Dr. Linda Albert calls Graceful Exits to help you exit power struggles gracefully and empower the student to make consistent positive choices that will influence them to become consistent positive contributors to the classroom and learn to satisfy the greater need of feeling capable, connected and contributing within the classroom. My next post will offer greater insight on Power Behavior and intervention strategies known as graceful exits.
May God bless you and help you to manage your anger, frustration and irritation with grace and peace and with patience, grace and wisdom empower your students to help you teach, influence and inspire learning.