I'm just watching a programme on the BBC about anger and its management. Topical, as today I really had an explosive case of utter rage with one of my teaching groups. Everything you're not supposed to do and say came shooting out of my mouth, firing in the direction of several irritants after a few days of bubbling under as I had tried to tolerate their low-level disruptive crap.
One of these pupils I find quite dangerous. Well, maybe dangerous is not quite the right word, but she seems quite unstable: needy and fishing for compliments, draping herself across my desk on the way in and then chewing and chatting away through my lessons. Unfortunately for me, she is also in my form group. And from my perspective at the front of the room I can see how she plays with the other girls in the form group, intimidating them, stirring things up, excluding and including them in order to exert power over them. I think that deep down she is dreadfully unhappy somehow, but at the moment - and perhaps for ever - there's no way I want to get close enough to delve into whatever is going on.
Anyway, the poor twenty-something other members of the class have now experienced me losing it and I really wish they hadn't had to witness it. I know I should have kept my cool but I am only human. The initial loss of temper lasted about four seconds, but as I'd already started shouting I thought I would just carry on at that level with a few more better-measured comments on rudeness, predicted exam failures or successes, and how inconsiderate it is to waste time. Yep, almost every cliche sprang to mind as I flicked through the mental textbook How to make an impact on rude teenagers. I thought I might as well take the opportunity to get them out of my system, and I was also hoping to show the rest of the class that my initial shout was less of an outburst and more of a life-lesson for the needy and those bereft of manners.
The thing is, I put up with so, so, soooo much crap: several on-going irritations in at least four corners of the room for the majority of five hours a day. Not all of it is intentional, but just the tapping of a pen or the constant reminders from me to some pupil swinging on a chair starts to build up and irritate me. Repeating instructions to children who should have been listening to what I said the first, second and third times (and these instructions are usually written down somewhere too to appeal to the "visual learners") irritates me. Reminding the same children every lesson to remove scarves and coats irritates me. How can these things not? If I overlook them, I'm a bad disciplinarian and the behaviour deteriorates.
And now I've just remembered a childish temper tantrum I myself had last week one morning. I should have left for work ten minutes earlier but was still trying to hunt down something important from a set of shelves with no success. Before I really knew what I was doing, I had started flinging everything from the shelves, yelling to nobody in particular how unfair it all was. Unfortunately, the TV programme on anger management has just finished with the presenter Griff Rhys Jones just telling us that we'll have to wait until next week to find out how to deal with anger. Fricking great.
I know the real solution of course. It lies in the job pages, somewhere.