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  • Writer's pictureBusybee Teachers

Stay Cool in the Classroom: Top Tips for Deescalating Student Situations as a Substitute Teacher


As a substitute teacher, you may find yourself in a variety of challenging situations with students. Whether it's a student who is acting out, a group of students who are not cooperating, or a conflict between students, it's important to have strategies in place to deescalate the situation and maintain a positive and safe classroom environment. Here are some tips to help you deescalate a situation involving students:

  1. Stay Calm: One of the most important things you can do when faced with a difficult situation is to remain calm. Students often look to adults for cues on how to behave, and if you remain calm, it can help to deescalate the situation.

  2. Listen: When a student is upset or angry, it's important to listen to what they have to say. Give the student your full attention, and try to understand their perspective.

  3. Validate Feelings: It's important to validate the student's feelings and acknowledge their experience. Even if you don't agree with what they are saying, it's important to let them know that you hear them.

  4. Use Positive Language: Use positive language to help keep the conversation constructive. Avoid using negative or accusatory language, which can increase defensiveness.

  5. Offer Choices: Give the student options or choices to help them feel in control of the situation. This can help to reduce feelings of frustration or helplessness.

  6. Use Humor: Sometimes using humor can help to deescalate a situation. However, it's important to be careful not to make light of the situation or the student's feelings.

  7. Take a Break: If the situation becomes too heated, it may be necessary to take a break. This can allow the student to calm down and regroup before continuing the conversation.

  8. Involve Others: If you are having difficulty deescalating the situation, it may be helpful to involve other staff members. This could be a school counselor, administrator, or another teacher.

  9. Use Positive Reinforcement: When the situation has been deescalated, it's important to use positive reinforcement to encourage positive behavior. This could be as simple as giving the student a compliment or praise.

  10. Reflect: After the situation has been resolved, take some time to reflect on what happened. Think about what worked and what didn't work, and what you could do differently in the future.

Deescalating a difficult situation with students can be challenging, but by remaining calm, listening, validating feelings, using positive language, offering choices, using humor, taking breaks, involving others, using positive reinforcement, and reflecting, you can help to create a safe and positive classroom environment. As a substitute teacher, you play an important role in helping students feel heard, respected, and valued, even in difficult situations.


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