How to Throw a Teacher Tantrum

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ESL Tate
I have been an ESL Teacher for more than 15 years and a Teacher trainer for the last three. Now I help new teachers start their journey traveling and teaching English abroad.
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Temper tantrum not only happens in toddlers but in teachers too. It’s called teacher tantrum.

teacher tantrum

The school guidelines are plain and simple with little to no room for misinterpretation. Well, other than the fact that they are only written on the website. They are not posted anywhere else, not even in the classroom where they would be more effective.

Nonetheless, they are straight to the point.
– No electronic devices while the Teacher is teaching. They are to be placed inside a box in the back of the classroom.
– Sleeping is not permitted
– Bow/greet the Teacher when he/she enters the classroom
– Be respectful at all times to your Teachers

Plain and simple right? Let me get an amen – and the congregation says in uni-some – a-m-e-n.

Preach on

It would be an oxymoron for me to say my students don’t exhibit bad behavior when I teach at a less than good school; ‘a last chance school’ to be exact. And although things get hairy at times, I wouldn’t have it any other way because here I really feel like I am making a difference. And for the most part, I have played my part to the tee according to my Co-Teacher but no one is perfect, right? Can I get another amen?

Lord knows I have problems, everyone does; and I have them plenty but my 2nd graders ain’t one of them :). I won’t let them be and that’s why I have to throw a teacher tantrum.

I walked into the classroom. The students didn’t even acknowledge that I entered the class. I know it was the first day after returning from a 5 day holiday. But one of those 5 days of my holiday I spent creating a fantastic powerpoint for them.

And here I was about to unleash my best powerpoint skills on them and I was met with less than eye contact. A few students said, hi Teacher but went back to chatting away. And as I called the role some of them were even talking above my voice to drown me out.

In the 5 days vacation, they had forgotten the number one rule in my class: when one person is talking, no matter who, the rest are listening. And this rule is not biased because I try my best not to do most of the talking. In fact, I usually set a lesson in motion, then let the students have at it.

For example, there is a lot of crime in Korea, the difference between Korea and America when it comes to crime is that Korea hides it better and the class goes off at it, giving their reasons why I am wrong, I would give examples from Korean Herald articles, I would win, then they would come back at me with people eating other people’s face in America, they would win and I would come back with a scenario, a worksheet, a stand up and talk, a role play and things get exciting and class is fun and informative. But not on this day. They just would not cooperate.

And then it happened – a teacher tantrum they never saw coming.

I did it with a placid, expressionless look, no smile, no anger, just plain blank.

I put my pen down and the role call sheet. I walked to the back of the classroom out of view. They continued chatting, some stopped and noticed that something was off. The ones that noticed got quiet; some continued.

The judgment

In a loud voice just enough to drown theirs I said, TAKE OUT YOUR NOTEBOOKS. I said nothing else, I walked to a few and snatched their mirrors, makeup kits, and everything that they were not supposed to have and stacked it up high next to me in the back of the class.

All they had left on their desks was a notebook and pen or pencils. The ones bold enough to try and eat their snacks, I snatched them and placed the snacks directly in the garbage. That really got their attention. They then realized what the situation had become and straightened up facing the front of the class and immediately stopped talking.

Others still bold enough to try and put their head down as if to go to sleep, I took away their chairs and they had to stand for the remainder of the class. The two that got loud and cussed, got kicked out of class and did not return and will have their chairs taken from them the following class next week.

I then walked to the chalkboard and in big letters wrote, I WILL LISTEN TO AND RESPECT THE TEACHER and next to this sentence I wrote 150 times. They sat down, no talking or whispering, no eating, no sleeping, sat up straight and wrote this sentence the entire 45 minutes of class.

The ones that did not finish writing had to finish it for homework and got an extra 50 times more because I felt they intentionally didn’t finish thinking they will have to write less than the ones that did.

At the end of class, I took everything I had collected from the class and took them to their homeroom Teacher for another passing of judgment because other than their mothers, their homeroom Teacher is the person they fear the most. Why? Because the homeroom Teachers are the ones that whip them. And the two students that used bad language really got it.

I had never gotten upset with that group up until that class and like another middle school class that tested me, I didn’t show it to them expressively. I show it to them in what they do. In other words, I simply pass judgment :).They’ve however figured out the things I don’t like and for the most part, have refrained from doing them. For example, I show them how much I hate it when they are bullying each other, picking on a particular kid, fighting, disrespecting my Co-Teacher and just being naughty for the sake of being naughty.

Of course, kids will be kids but at the same time, they need structure and leadership. That leadership is what keeps the chaos in order. I mean Teaching English is a lot of fun but there are times when the fun is taken right out of you and you need to let that teacher tantrum out and that’s why I try not to take things to heart because when you do, you are done. And when you show the students that they can get to you, you are done. They will push those buttons until there are no buttons left to push. That’s exactly why I try my best to keep a stable persona no matter what’s going on in my personal life.

With that said, however, you need a Teacher tantrum once in a while to show them that hey, I am here and just because I make studying English fun doesn’t mean you should take it as a weakness. And being that my school has pretty much given me reign over all of my classes with no Korean Teacher present in the class when I am teaching, this is especially important.

How about you, have you thrown a Teacher tantrum lately? How did it go?

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