11 Reasons Why You Should Never, Ever Lose Your Cool

Why You Should Never Lose Your CoolTeachers tend to lose their cool when they feel they have no other recourse.

Their buttons get pushed, frustration builds, and they boil over.

They raise their voice. They fume and lecture. They glare and scold and stab the air with their finger.

For some, it’s a hair-trigger habit that can happen with the least provocation. For others it takes some doing.

But in every situation, and with every student, it’s a mistake.

It’s always a mistake.

Here’s why:

1. It sabotages rapport.

When you lose your cool you risk undoing weeks, or even months, of fruitful rapport-building with your students. In an instant you can go from likable and influential to someone your students prefer to keep at arm’s length.

2. It weakens your classroom management plan.

A positive relationship with students gives meaning to your classroom management plan. It supplies the leverage to dissuade misbehavior. If time-out doesn’t matter to your students—and it won’t if they dislike you and (by extension) your classroom—then neither will it be effective.

3. It undermines accountability.

When you react emotionally to misbehavior you undermine true accountability—because it causes students to blame you, direct their simmering anger at you, and justify for their misbehavior. In other words, it replaces healthy reflection with excuses.

4. It worsens behavior.

Yelling, scolding and the like can result in immediate improvement. But alas, it’s only temporary. In the long run, behavior will always worsen—especially the sneaky, behind-your-back variety—due to the friction and animosity between you.

5. It leads to parent complaints.

Yelling at students is among the most common complaints from parents—and it’s difficult to defend. The best you can offer is an apology and a promise to not let it happen again. Still, it will cement your reputation as a “mean” teacher.

6. It ruins trust.

Trust is built over time. It’s built through consistency. It’s built by doing what you say you will. When you forgo your classroom management plan in favor of a fiery lecture or a finger-wagging dressing down, you’re going back on your word.

7. It announces your lack of effectiveness.

Teachers grow frustrated and lose their cool when they don’t know another way. When you bark at your students you’re announcing to them, your principal, other teachers, and everyone else within earshot that you don’t have effective classroom management skills.

8. It fills your classroom with tension.

Teachers who let misbehavior get under their skin create an environment that teems with unhealthy energy. You can feel it the moment you enter the room. The students are distracted and unhappy. They’re excitable and restless. And learning is far from mind.

9. It teaches students to do the same.

Every time you lose your cool you provide a model—and your permission—for your students to do the same. It trains them to lose their composure when things don’t go their way. It teaches them to give in, buckle under, and fall apart when faced with challenges.

10. It destroys your fulfillment.

Letting anger get the best of you robs you of the deeper joys of being a teacher. It creates a you-against-them form of classroom management that removes the love, the laughter, and the eyeball-to-eyeball connections that make teaching more than just a profession.

11. It burdens you with stress.

Yelling and scolding is incredibly stressful—and not just in the moment. At home at the dinner table, getting out of bed in the morning, driving to work . . . it stays with you. It whispers in your ear that you’ve become the teacher you never wanted to be.

A Better Way

The antidote to losing your cool is a comprehensive understanding of effective classroom management principles and how to apply them.

It’s a redirection from what was once frustration and anger in reaction to misbehavior . . . to a calm, impartial response—one that both safeguards your influence and fairly and ethically holds your students accountable.

It’s allowing your classroom management plan to do the heavy lifting for you, so you can be the inspirational teacher your students will always remember.

The one you always wanted to be.

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13 Responses to 11 Reasons Why You Should Never, Ever Lose Your Cool

  1. Gloria M September 7, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    Hi, Michael,
    I discovered your website last week and have enjoyed reading through the archives. As a new high school teacher, I work hard to design classroom experiences that are active, social, engaging, and meaningful. I think a “time out” would be an appropriate and logical consequence for students who — as you have put it — infringe on the rights of others to learn and enjoy school. But I don’t want to call it that, because I don’t want students to feel they are being treated like young children. Have any of your readers made suggestions for adapting your plan for the needs of high schoolers?

    • Michael Linsin September 7, 2014 at 11:12 am #

      Hi Gloria,

      Yes, and you hit it right on the head: The key is not to label it time-out. You don’t even have to have an official name for it—just a separation from the class they enjoy being part of.

      Michael

  2. y.raheel September 7, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    When you raise your voice or by any gesture let the students know your frustration you are gone then. Thanks for raising this concern from this platform.

    • Michael Linsin September 7, 2014 at 11:13 am #

      You’re welcome, y.raheel!

      Michael

  3. Gloria M September 7, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    Michael, sounds good to me — I like the way you have framed that. Thanks for the quick reply!

  4. Emily Morris September 7, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

    I spent the summer meditating on not losing my cool or lecturing in the classroom and feel I have been most successful in this regard. I feel less stressed about consequences. It’s great.

    However, my aide loves lecturing. I’ve explained my views, but she still lectures. I’m worried it will even eventually cause friction.

  5. Emily September 11, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    So this may not be the best article to leave this comment on, but here I go anyway:

    Despite a sincere desire and effort to implement tactics and ideals here… I had a bad day today.

    So… remember your advice to lessen the amount I speak, I stopped speaking for the last forty minutes of the day.

    I modeled the procedure our class failed at, I had students and the whole class demonstrate it… and when it was finally done to my satisfaction I taught a writing lesson–all without speaking.

    The results were amazing!

    I’m remeditating on your principles today and tomorrow will go much more smoothly. And I will again talk less!

    • Michael Linsin September 11, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

      Way to go, Emily!

      Michael

  6. Bruce September 25, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

    How do you turn things around if you have already lost your cool ? How do you get control back if it is already lost?

  7. Jamie Silver October 2, 2015 at 5:37 am #

    Thank you so much for these articles. I moved this year and went from a school that I loved to a more urban area and my normal classroom management and incentives have NOT worked at my new school and I have found myself more frustrated than I have been in six years of teaching. I felt like nothing was working and I was starting to become a teacher that I did not like and would end up singling out a few of the repeat offenders and trying to persuade them to behave (not going crazy and yelling or anything, but not the way that I want to conduct myself as a teacher). I had a ‘fluffy,’ we decide the rules together type of management because at my previous school it worked with the students that I had. They also had good structure at home and parents who were involved and helped them with their work. That is not always the case in my new school and it shows in everything. I am fully aware that you have to be on the right track from the start or you will hate the whole year so I was having nightmares of what I had gotten myself into.

    I found this site and I can not stop reading the articles! I have changed the rules and consequences and am being more firm with all of the students about the way they are enforced and in just a week there is a huge difference in the whole feel of our room! I am more optimistic now than I have been in a month and I have ordered ‘Dream Class’ and can’t wait to read it. Thank you so much for this site. You may have just saved my entire year!

    • Michael Linsin October 2, 2015 at 6:49 am #

      Hi Jamie,

      Way to go! I’m so glad your classroom is improving. It will only get better as you become more and more familiar with our principles and strategies.

      Michael

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