A Simple Way To Calm An Excitable Class

Smart Classroom Management: A Simple Way To Calm An Excitable ClassExcitability is a major cause of misbehavior.

Which is why it is present in virtually every classroom where the teacher is struggling.

You can feel it the moment you enter the room.

There is an unmistakable buzz, a live wire of tension, a jitter of frenetic energy.

Like the students have been mainlining triple espresso.

By contrast, well-behaved classrooms are peaceful.

They’re calm and unhurried. They’re relaxed and contented, yet lost in the business of learning.

Although there can be a number of causes, excitability is an area that is entirely under your control.

You see, students take their cue from you. So if you’re stressed and uptight, if you’re flustered and rushing around, it will reflect in their behavior.

I’ve written about this topic before, but today I want to share with you a simple technique you can use anytime you like, but especially if you notice your students becoming restless, fidgety, and poised to cause trouble.

It’s proven to first settle your own nervous energy as well as lower your stress. It will help you relax, think clearly, and begin enjoying your day.

But the best part is that it will sweep excitability right out of your classroom and help your students focus on the here and now.

So what is this miracle technique?

It’s to slow down. It’s to begin moving deliberately and gracefully. It’s to smooth out your movements, motions, and actions and downshift to a lower gear.

Now, this isn’t a technique that requires you to use the power of your mind to overcome stress and tension, which can be exhausting and not always effective.

You don’t have to talk yourself out of being anxious, trick yourself into being calmer and more cheerful, or fight against your nature.

You just have to move slower.

Those who practice Tai Chi know this phenomenon well. The very act of articulating the elegant movements of this ancient martial art has a unique way of eliminating unwanted energy and restoring emotional equilibrium.

The idea is to decelerate your body—and your mind will follow. This doesn’t mean that you have to move in slow motion or in any way that is noticeable to your students or those around you.

Just ease up on your pace a little and your breathing will deepen, your muscles will soften, and you’ll begin to feel more composed and confident.

But what’s so cool about this technique is that it’s contagious. Your calm presence will spread from one student to the next and fill every corner of your classroom.

It will quiet the buzz and settle the unsettled. It will still the tap-tap of pencils and hush the rustle of restlessness.

It will remove any and all disquieting feelings and usher in contentment, cooperation, and self-awareness.

Restoring your classroom to its optimal state of learning.

PS – I’ll be taking next week off to celebrate Christmas, but will be back with a new article on December 31st.

Have a wonderful and safe holiday!


If you haven’t done so already, please join us. It’s free! Click here and begin receiving new-article updates in your email box every week.

24 Responses to A Simple Way To Calm An Excitable Class

  1. Jaya December 17, 2016 at 12:03 pm #

    Wish you a merry Christmas..
    Enjoyed reading your article.. It’s true that the your state has to be calm and I agree that it is contagious.

    • Michael Linsin December 17, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

      Thanks Jaya! I’m so glad you like the weekly articles.


      • Sammy December 18, 2016 at 7:48 pm #

        Merry Christmas in advance, peace be unto you and your family. Thank you very much

        • Michael Linsin December 19, 2016 at 8:45 am #

          Thanks Sammy. Merry Christmas to you!


    • arlene Holmes December 18, 2016 at 6:37 pm #

      Thank you Michael for your wise intuitive presence on a continuous basis.

      From an art teacher Arlene

      • Michael Linsin December 18, 2016 at 6:49 pm #

        You’re welcome, Arlene.


  2. Nancy Chabica December 17, 2016 at 12:40 pm #

    Hi Michael… I have to say that I usually agree with you on these blogs, but I think you have a simplistic view on this one! I have 21 six-year olds and they definitely do not quiet down when I become calm and quiet. Some of my students do respond to my soft voice and behavior… but they are the ones who are already more aware of activity and lessons in the class. It only takes a couple of students to begin loud talking and movement before the rest of the class joins in. Usually if I tell just one of them to “clip down” (our classroom behavior plan step), then they will all quiet down quickly. But I think they respond to our relationship and positive or negative consequences.

    • Michael Linsin December 17, 2016 at 1:57 pm #

      Hi Nancy,

      If you get a chance, please read the article again. I was in no way making the point that temperament alone will quiet and control an unruly class. It is, however, an extremely effective way to combat excitability, which is a major cause of misbehavior—especially among younger students. In fact, when I was a specialist and a teacher would drop off their out-of-control class at my door, it was among several strategies and techniques I relied on the most.

      It’s also often the first piece of advice I give to teachers struggling with classroom management. For more on this topic and how profoundly teacher stress, tension, rapidity, micromanagement, and the like affects students, and simple ways to reverse it, I encourage you to read the linked articles, as well as the books Classroom Management for Art, Music, and PE Teachers and The Classroom Management Secret. There are also many related articles in the archive.


  3. Lana Frazier December 17, 2016 at 1:23 pm #

    I hope that you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. I appreciate the wisdom and inspiration in your articles. Also, I think that it is admirable that you choose to share them with us in the teaching profession.

    • Michael Linsin December 17, 2016 at 2:14 pm #

      Thanks Lana! It’s truly my great pleasure.


  4. Mary December 17, 2016 at 6:49 pm #

    Even though I teach university students, I find a lot of useful advice here.

    Thank you very much for your articles, Michael, and a very merry Christmas to you!

    • Michael Linsin December 17, 2016 at 7:06 pm #

      Thanks Mary! I’m glad to hear it. And Merry Christmas to you!


  5. krishna panchal December 18, 2016 at 12:13 am #

    Its wonderful article …Thanks

    • Michael Linsin December 18, 2016 at 9:04 am #

      You’re welcome, Krishna. I’m glad you liked it.


  6. Sabine McKenna December 18, 2016 at 9:47 am #

    Thank you for yet another thoughtful and useful article, Michael! I have been reading your blog practically every week for a few years now and find the thoughts and suggestions very useful. I teach small groups (I’m a digital educator and run coding, keyboard skills, and general computing skills to 7- to 14-year-olds in groups of 6), yet a lot of your pointers are just as applicable to my groups.
    You might write a couple of posts about small-group teaching, as many teachers are engaged in that, as well as educators who like myself work outside of schools. Thank you!

    • Michael Linsin December 18, 2016 at 10:54 am #

      You’re welcome, Sabine. I’ll definitely consider your suggestion. Thanks!


  7. Cindy December 18, 2016 at 5:09 pm #

    Looking forward to teaching next semester so I can try this.

    • Michael Linsin December 18, 2016 at 6:33 pm #

      Hi Cindy,

      One of the keys to effective classroom management is to cultivate the habit of being calm and composed every day of the week.


  8. Raquel December 19, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

    As a relatively new teacher (this is my 4th year) of high school students, I continually tried to improve my classroom management skills. Your advice has helped tremendously! It gave me the confidence to lead my students by raising my standards for behavior and being consistent with my expectations and consequences. I look forward to work everyday and my students appreciate the learning environment in my class. Thank you!!!

    • Michael Linsin December 19, 2016 at 8:56 pm #

      That’s great to hear, Raquel. Way to go! It’s my pleasure to be able to help in even the smallest way. Thanks for sharing your success with me!


  9. Regina December 21, 2016 at 5:32 am #

    I think the only thing to help me with the middle schoolers I work with is prayer. Prayer and patience. Nothing else that I do matters. I will be so happy when the school year is over. Nothing I try works with this group. After this I will be working elsewhere. I will still teach but I can not handle the students behavior and disrespect from this demographic area in particular. My heart goes out to them, and I meant well. However, controlling them is only something that lots of prayer or years of experience can handle anything else to me is futile.

  10. gin December 24, 2016 at 9:17 am #


    This my first year as a teacher and iam facing somme problems. When i enter the class students are very noisy and whatever i do they don’t seem to listen. Besides quiet ones are complaining that they cannot understand ans focus in my class. I tried to ground them to write their names or even to motivate them, but nothing is working with me and really begin to lose it. so I really need your help wja shoul I do now especially that the start of the year wasn’t that good.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Michael Linsin December 24, 2016 at 9:54 am #

      Hi Gin,

      You’re essentially asking how to manage your classroom. The purpose of this website is to teach you exactly how to do that. My best advice is to start over from scratch, but first you must educate yourself on our approach. I would begin here and then spend time working through our archive. You may also want to pick up one of our books (along the sidebar).


  11. Sam January 3, 2017 at 2:17 pm #

    I just don’t know. I am very puzzled to the fact that what perfectly works for one class does not seem to have any effect on the other. I am a specialist and deal with different classes in different schools. My classroom management works beautifully for some groups yet it’s a disaster for other groups. No matter how much I try to adapt I fail with a few specific groups. Nothing seems to work. It’s just…frustrating!!!

Leave a Reply