Managing Aggression in the Classroom

Proactive Strategies for Managing Aggression in the Classroom

Here we look at part 2 of understanding and managing aggression in the classroom. We have put together a 10 point guide of proactive strategies.

  1. Establish clear expectations and rules in the classroom. Creating a positive learning environment starts with establishing clear expectations and rules in the classroom. When students know what is expected of them, they are more likely to adhere to those guidelines. Clearly communicate behavioural expectations to your students at the beginning of the school year or whenever new students join your class. Use simple language that is easy for them to understand.
  2. To reinforce these expectations, consider displaying them visually in the classroom. You can create posters or charts that outline the rules and display them prominently. This visual reminder will serve as a constant reinforcement for students, helping to prevent aggressive behaviours from occurring.
  3. One effective strategy for preventing aggressive behaviour is teaching conflict resolution and anger management skills to students. By providing them with tools to handle conflicts peacefully, you empower them to resolve issues without resorting to aggression.
  4. Incorporate lessons on conflict resolution into your curriculum. Teach students how to identify their emotions and express themselves effectively when faced with challenging situations. Encourage active listening, empathy, and compromise as essential components of resolving conflicts non-aggressively.
  5. A structured routine can significantly reduce frustration among students, which often leads to aggressive acts. Establish a daily schedule that includes regular breaks, transitions between activities, and designated time for movement or physical activity.
  6. Ensure that your instructions are clear and concise during transitions so that students understand what is expected of them at each stage of the day. Providing predictability through a structured routine helps minimise disruptive behaviour by reducing uncertainty and anxiety.
  7. For students who exhibit persistent challenging behaviours, developing an individualised behaviour intervention plan can be beneficial. Work collaboratively with other teaching staff, administrators, parents, and even the student to develop a comprehensive plan.
  8. Implementing positive reinforcement practices can help prevent aggressive behaviours by promoting desirable behaviours instead. Recognise and reward students when they display appropriate behaviour or make progress in managing their emotions effectively.
  9. Use verbal praise, small rewards, or privileges as incentives for positive behaviour. Celebrate achievements openly in the classroom, creating an environment where students feel valued and motivated to continue displaying positive behaviours. Building positive relationships with aggressive students is crucial for their growth and development. By showing empathy and understanding, using positive reinforcement, and encouraging open communication, teaching staff can create a supportive environment that helps these students thrive.
  10. Recognise that a student who is presenting with aggressive behaviour  may have underlying issues such as frustration, fear, or a lack of coping skills. By acknowledging their emotions and demonstrating genuine concern, you can build trust and establish a foundation for positive change. One effective strategy is to validate their feelings without condoning their actions. Let them know that you understand they may be feeling angry or overwhelmed but emphasize the importance of expressing themselves in a more appropriate manner. This approach helps students feel heard while also setting clear boundaries.


Implementing De-escalation Techniques During Confrontations

To de-escalate confrontations effectively, it is essential to:

  • Remain calm: Displaying anger or frustration may only exacerbate the student’s aggression. Instead, speak softly and maintain a neutral tone.
  • Active listening: Show genuine interest in what the student has to say, allowing them to express their feelings without interruption. This demonstrates respect and can help diffuse tension.
  • Empathy and understanding: Try to put yourself in the student’s shoes and understand their perspective. Validating their emotions can help reduce their agitation.
  • Non-threatening body language: Stand at an appropriate distance from the student, keeping your body relaxed and open. Avoid crossing your arms or displaying any aggressive gestures.


To read government guidance titled ‘ Behaviour in schools: Advice for headteachers and school staff’, please click here