Adult classroom

How to deal with strong emotions in the classroom

Building an inclusive classroom should always be a top priority as a literacy practitioner. However sometimes this can be challenging, especially if students have Emotional and Behavioural Disorders (EBD) – whether they’ve been diagnosed or not.

Thankfully, we can help adult learners in our classroom if we know the right methods. We look at how to help adult learners dealing with strong emotions.

Create the right environmental setting

From inattention to aggressive behaviour, learners may sometimes demonstrate behaviours that are disruptive to the learning process. If the behaviour continues un-addressed, the emotional response may get even more pronounced.

Sensitivity, and respect for clear classroom guidelines can go a long way when responding to disruptive behaviour in the classroom. Entering a classroom that’s as calm and safe as possible can help avoid undesirable behaviour from adult learners.

From day one, set your expectations for success in your classroom – both academically and behaviorally. Use routine as much as possible to help learners anticipate what’s coming next, and set up your classroom with minimal distractions.

For learners who require devoted time away from others, provide a welcoming study area for individual learning.

Communicate the right way

Deliver information as clearly and simply as possible, and provide explicit instructions for tasks and assignments. Communicate with learners in supportive, private conversations and be as patient as possible while dealing with a behavioural or emotional response.

It’s also key to be flexible in your method of teaching. Every adult has their own learning style and interest, so try to accommodate them as best as possible.

Have the right attitude

Diffusing challenging behaviour only becomes more difficult if you fail to remain calm.

While easier said than done, it’s critical to maintain your own self-control. To help you do so, use the power of visualization to remain calm, use silence as a de-escalation tool, and choose your words wisely. Using phrases such as “I hear you” and “thanks for sharing” can demonstrate you’re in control and bring the environment back to being neutral.

Get expert support

If you’ve tried a lot of helpful strategies to no avail, it may be time to seek additional support. There are professionals who specialize in working with adults with behavioural issues. Ask these experts for personalized advice regarding the learner in question and get clarification on particular teaching methods.

In rare cases when extreme behaviours occur, it may be necessary to involve administration. You should always feel safe at work, so let senior management assist if your attempts to instill positive behaviour aren’t working.

For access to free learning resources for adult learners, check out our website.