De-escalation Exercise for Upset Students

An upset learner can reclaim the frame of mind essential for learning with a simple procedure that takes only a few minutes.

We frequently encounter pupils who are nervous or apprehensive. Inappropriate actions or outbursts, nasty comments, and anxiety-related emotions like fidgeting, leg shaking, and hand clenching are the most obvious indications. These indications should cause educators to be concerned and alert them that a response may be required. The objective is to help the pupil develop self-control, but how can a teacher achieve that?

Let’s take a look at what’s going on with a pupil who is having an outburst. Cortisol is being produced, which is responsible for keeping humans alive in the face of danger.

Cortisol, sometimes known as the stress hormone, plays an important function in our capacity to defend ourselves. When we are faced with a stressful circumstance, the production of cortisol aids us in responding quickly, but it comes at a cost: it impairs the brain’s capacity to operate at its best.

Consider this scenario: You’re out on a surfboard in the water, waiting for the perfect wave. A shark fin pops out of the water a short distance distant, going straight towards you. Two hormones, cortisol, and adrenaline are produced immediately, and you enter the fight, flight, or freeze response: you may fight the shark, paddle as quickly as you can to leave, or freeze and hope the shark loses interest in you. Due to elevated cortisol levels, you find yourself in a state of tension, worry, uncertainty, and dread, regardless of your reaction.

Now examine how this may play out in a classroom setting. Two pupils realize at the end of a lesson that they have earned a bad grade on a scientific test. Although this is not a life-or-death scenario as when a shark approaches, the physiological reaction is the same. The pupils’ cortisol levels are high, and they’re worried, which isn’t conducive to clear conscious thought. The two kids are noticeably agitated when they go into their English session. One rushes to their seat and sobs, while the other tosses their book bag on the floor and strikes the desk. Recognizing these indications before the start of class is critical for the instructor.

The Brain And The Stress Response

The youthful brain may be perplexing, complicated, and sometimes misinterpreted, not only by adults but, perhaps more crucially, by students themselves. It’s critical to teach pupils about the sections of the brain and their functions for them to comprehend how their brain works. Teach them about the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus to keep things easy.

When required, the amygdala guides quick reactions such as fight, flight, or freeze. When the amygdala recognizes a danger, it reacts quicker than the prefrontal cortex, which leads to decision-making and problem-solving abilities, and the hippocampus, which is in charge of memory and storage. As a result, the two parts of the brain that are most important for academic work are skipped. As a result, an anxious, tense, or terrified state of mind can lead to rash decisions, a lack of clarity in thought, and impulsive action.

Learning to relax oneself is essential for our well-being, and students can benefit from the following approach, which is aimed at reducing unpleasant impulses and emotions. The idea is to get children to think and learn in a more controlled manner.

A Technique For De-Escalation

Let’s return to the two dissatisfied English pupils. They aren’t ready to work, but the instructor can assist them by taking a few minutes to calm them down.

This procedure should take four to six minutes and should be focused on the pupil. I’ve included an example of what a teacher may say at each step, but you should change the sentences to fit your needs.

If you have a paraprofessional or an in-class support teacher, you can ask an unhappy kid to walk out into the corridor or a de-escalation location in the classroom. You may also use this as a whole-class starting exercise for anyone worried about something. Students can use this de-escalation strategy (thinking about their responses rather than discussing them out loud) or participate in a warm-up activity related to the class, such as writing a diary entry or filling out a worksheet.

Allow the learner to restore their composure:

“I see you’re upset,” you say. Let’s practice calm breathing for one minute together to help you control your urges.”

Encourage the student to be aware of their thoughts and feelings by saying, “Direct the learner to be aware of their thoughts and feelings:” “What’s going on in your brain and body right now?” you could ask. Tell me how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking, and whether you’re ready to focus on being calmer.”

Redirect the student’s thinking as follows:

“Take a minute, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and think about something that makes you happy,” you say. You said how much you enjoy your grandmother’s freshly made cookies. Consider stepping into Grandma’s house in a relaxed frame of mind while smelling, tasting, and feeling the warmth of freshly baked cookies.”

Give the learner good feedback on his or her ability to relax:

“Now open your eyes,” you say. How are you doing today? Please let me know if you require additional time to calm down. You should be proud of the work you’ve done to get to this point.”

Allow the pupil some more time to refocus:

“Take a minute and do something kind for yourself,” you can say. Take a walk to get some fresh air, or tell me about your baseball game last night.”

Encourage the pupil to think about the future:

“What can you say to yourself the next time you’re feeling this way and I’m not with you to take control of your mind and conduct and bring yourself to a controlled place?”

About the article

De-escalation strategies such as the capacity to order your thoughts and behave calmly might prevent you from getting into a possible disaster. In this article, we have discussed some de-escalation exercises for upset students.

Carter Martin

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