Saturday, August 15, 2015

5 Ways to Deescalate Upset Students in your Classroom

When I left the Vegas conference I was filled with excitement and a driving force behind how I can begin to find my new voice for this blog. Leaving the classroom for administration has changed my focus and I want to share with you some of the things I am doing with my staff. I want to give a BIG shout out to the very lovely Mrs. Spangler from Mrs. Spangler In the Middle- I was lucky enough to sit next to her at one of the TpT conference sessions and we talked about what I could offer the blogging world now that I am not a middle school teacher anymore. This post was one of those ideas :) THANKS Lisa!

So imagine sitting in your classroom prepared a ROCKIN' lesson. Everything is falling into place and you know you are in the ZONE. From the corner of your eye you see the beginnings of crazy town starting to surface in the back of the room. Little Suzie is about to loose it....  Maybe it starts with a sigh or a yell, then it begins to bubble over the yell is a scream ... maybe a cry. What do you do?!?!

First know that you are not alone! I think every teacher can relate to that scenario and the panic that sets in when you know a student is about to burst and they are escalating rapidly.

When I did this PD with my staff we started with a post it activity. In order to handle that child we first need to look inward. We need to figure out are our buttons ...and what pushes them! They needed to answer these three questions ....

 Each teacher was asked to write down all the behaviors that PUSH their buttons and post them. We are human and behaviors will irritate us! But what pushes my buttons isn't necessarily what pushes the teachers down the hall's buttons. The physical act of writing down what aggravated me is very powerful.

Then they needed to write how it makes them feel. This step helps label the emotion...when you do this.... I feel ....

As teachers we are not supposed to feel negative emotions....YA RIGHT! That little angel who comes every day and pinches or yells or rolls their eyes at you will elicit an emotion from you and its ok that those behaviors aggravate you. However while the behavior may enrage you we all know that those emotions are productive. They wont lead us to an end result that allows everyone in the room to continue in the learning process.

So now I am more aware of what behaviors are my "buttons" ... and we identified how they make me feel ...

The last step is identifying how these behaviors will impact the relationships I am building in my classroom. As we got to this phase the post-its it was clear... If I react with that emotion I will not be building any sort of quality relationship with my students. Not only that, if we live in those emotions and react from those emotions it will take a toll on our health and well being.

So now that I am more aware of MYSELF... how do I deal with those behaviors?!?!

Here are 5 ways to DEESCALTE ...


I will be revisiting this topic and giving more ideas and tips for behavior interventions!! I would love to hear feedback on this topic and if more posts on behavior would be helpful so feel free to leave a comment if these strategies are beneficial!! :)


  1. These are great reminders. Thanks so much for sharing. I'm jealous you got to hang out with Lisa in real life! We live in the same state and I hope to meet her one day!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  2. Dina, you are so kind! I am so glad we were able to meet and chat about middle school. You have tons you can share on this topic and I look forward to reading more! :)

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

  3. We all need to read this periodically. Thanks for the great post.

  4. Little Susie is about to loose it? Please tell me you meant lose. Edit.

    1. I am going out on a limb and assume that we are all educators here...with that being said, don't be petty , please.

    2. I am going out on a limb and assume that we are all educators here...with that being said, don't be petty , please.

  5. Since I have a child that "loses it" pretty quickly, I would add to give space and time for the child to "resync" his/her brain before you try to discuss the situation. I would also suggest having a place where children can go to calm themselves without the audience. Some children really struggle to regulate and manage emotions, and keeping in mind that most of the time, behaviors have nothing to do with the teacher or lesson, but more to do with what happened at recess, lunch, or maybe even a lack of sleep.

  6. Thank you for this post. What a well thought out staff meeting idea:)

  7. Thank you for sharing. I always tell my novice teachers that there will be kids who are masters at pushing your buttons and being in control and thoughtful at all times is your duty.

    A great resource for understanding how to respond to your students as the escalate is the IRIS Module: Understanding the Acting Out Cycle

  8. As a Language Arts educator, please go back and edit your blog - it really pushes my buttons that you are misspelling words - "DEESCALTE"? "BREATH" before you speak"? (Breathe) It makes me want to "LOOSE" it. LOL (No really, I'm just trying to help) On a positive note, I like your "Post-It" (Proper Noun) activity. I'm glad it works - I will try it with my team.

  9. This is exactly what I needed to read after class today. I am printing this and putting it in my teacher folder. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Hi Dina, thanks for posting this. I think the tips are awesome; I am an educator turned behavior analyst and in both fields we talk a lot about the child's behavior but we need to remember how children acting out affects our behavior as teachers. Our default reaction may be emotional, or we may punish the behavior or escape it by sending the child away. Depending on the function of the child's behavior, maybe to escape tasks or get a rise out of me, those reactions may be the worst thing to do! Learning to stay calm and think about the situation is crucial.

  11. Good advice. I had a student throwing things yesterday and I'm glad I used some of these techniques! It took them a while to cool off, but the rest of the day was MUCH better.

  12. Great post. The message was very insightful. It's too bad that some of the commentators were petty and pointed out faults instead of thanking the writer. On that note, I'd like to say thank you for sharing Dina.