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FREW Consultants Group        
Wednesday, June 21 2023

Surviving an 'Out of Control' Classroom.

The next series of Newsletters will focus on managing very difficult classrooms.  From as long as surveys have been taken focusing on teachers’ greatest concerns, managing difficult behaviours has inevitably been at the top of that list (only in recent years has the extreme workloads displaced it).  Also, with the rise in private and selective schools there has been a residualisation of those schools who take students who, through no fault of their own have dysfunctional behaviours.  Teachers in these schools should be exposed to training and development that helps them deal with these behaviours.  The driving force behind all our work has been to provide that help.


Regaining control of an out-of-control class can be a challenging task, there are times when you feel like throwing up your hands and giving up.  This is understandable but inevitably the extremely disruptive behaviour is initiated by a few students, the majority deserve to be taught in a calm secure environment, so at least you have a responsibility to:

  • Protect the students – you must ensure, as much as possible the safety and security of the members of your classroom.  It may be necessary to remove the offending student from the classroom or in certain situations you might move all the others out to a safe area nearby
  • Protect yourself, you are of no use if you are injured.  It is often necessary to remove the offending student from the classroom or in other cases you might move all the others out to a safe area nearby.
  • Protect the offending child as much as you can from being harmed, either physically or psychologically.
  • Protect the property. 


If you have removed the student from the classroom you must ensure they’re safe.  In some cases the student might flee the school area, if this occurs notify your executive and they will contact the child’s family.  In any case you need to notify your supervisor in a manner that maintains everyone’s safety, that is do not send a student out with a message if there is a chance they might be confronted by the perpetrator.


It may be that two, or more students are having a physical fight in the classroom.  If this is the case then:

  • Ensure the immediate safety of all students. If necessary, evacuate other students from the immediate area to prevent them from getting hurt or becoming involved in the fight.
  • Do not physically intervene, as a teacher, it's crucial not to put your-self in harm's way. Your primary role is, protect the other students, to defuse the situation and seek assistance if needed.
  • Immediately call for help, contact your supervisors, or at least another staff member and inform them about the fight and request their immediate assistance.
  • While you shouldn't physically intervene, you can attempt to defuse the situation verbally. Remind them firmly that fighting is not acceptable and that there will be consequences for their actions.
  • If it is safe to do so, try to create physical distance between the fighting students but never put your-self or others in danger.
  • It is very important to document the incident, note of any important details regarding the fight, such as the names of the students involved, witnesses and any relevant information that may help in addressing the situation later on. This documentation can be helpful for school


You have to remember that you are the adult in the room and you do have a responsibility to regain control of the class.  When this situation arises the first response is to remain calm, you need to put on your boundaries.  Take a few deep breaths to manage your own stress levels before addressing the situation.  The previous Newsletters have plenty of advice on how to do this but as far as the students are concern you need to:

  • Stand up for yourself in an appropriate level of assertiveness – you are in-charge when being the teacher 
  • Model non-hostile body language, stand up straight, hands off hips, fists unclenched, no finger wagging
  • Continue to act as if their behaviour has no effect on you
  • Sustain a steady, positive gaze
  • Speak clearly
  • Remain silent after you have delivered your message.  You must give enough time for that message to be understood.  Silence, coupled with confidence is a powerful way to communicate
  • Maintain appropriate eye contact
  • Don’t stand too close or touch them

Remember, your demeanour can have a significant impact on the students involved and the rest of the class


After the crisis has passed you will need to document the event.  This will provide a record that might provide pointers that will help you avoid this particular situation reoccurring.  The following points will help:

  • Once the situation is under control, ensure that the students involved receive appropriate support. Talk to them individually, privately, and calmly to understand the underlying causes and offer guidance or referrals to counselling or other resources if needed. It's important to address the issue rather than simply punishing the students involved.
  • If it is a significant event or a reoccurring one then reach out to the parents or guardians of the students involved to inform them about the incident. Maintain a professional, non-judgmental approach while discussing the situation, and be prepared to answer their questions or address their concerns.
  • After addressing the immediate situation, you should reflect on what caused the situation and assess what preventive measures can be put in place to minimize the chances of similar incidents occurring in the future. This will be the topic of an up-coming Newsletter.

Remember, it's crucial to follow your school and the Department’s policies and guidelines for dealing with extreme misbehaviour and violence. However, your primary focus should always be on the safety and well-being of your students while maintaining a supportive and conducive learning environment.






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John R Frew
Marcia J Vallance

ABN 64 372 518 772


The principals of the company have had long careers in education with a combined total of eighty-one years service.  After starting as mainstream teachers they both moved into careers in providing support for students with severe behaviours.

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