I used to say that I preferred dealing with a few higher level disruptive behaviours in a challenging class rather than the constant buzz of low-level behaviours. I think my biggest mistakes were digging my heals in at the front of the class and staying in the one place, keeping my voice raised and allowing myself to be emotionally impacted by the frenetic energy.
My biggest insight in managing this issue was to resist the negative thought that “it’s the whole class” and ask myself “Who are the three most disengaged students here?” and get them onside.
- Who needs to perform and feel acknowledged?
- Who needs to feel positivity and encouragement?
- Who needs to have their mood adjusted?
- All students need me to be calm and centred
Working for MindMatters delivering mental health and wellbeing professional development nationally, revolutionised the way I managed group dynamics. When the low level disruptions persist, sometimes the class just needs a brain break. My amazing colleagues at MindMatters taught me how to shift the energy in a room with short (random) physical, mental and musical activities that jolted the group out of the unwanted state and ready for learning in no time at all.
Remember that brain breaks don’t always have to relate to your topic, the point is to give the brain a break and press the refresh button!