December 8, 2023

Do you ever have trouble staying in control in the classroom? Do you feel like no matter what you do, your students keep pushing the boundaries and testing your limits? If so, then it’s time to take a step back and rethink how you communicate with your students.

Avoiding power struggles in the classroom
Avoiding power struggles in the classroom

The key to avoiding power struggles is to understand that these conflicts don’t have to be a constant battle of wills. By finding alternative solutions and approaches, teachers and students can benefit from better relationships and better learning outcomes. Check out these tips for avoiding power struggles in the classroom.

Stopping power struggles

1 – Stand on the ground

Remain firm and refrain from any unruly behavior (if it is safe to do so). Students learn that simply following directions makes their days run smoother. Focus on what they need to do, and if they start going against those instructions, walk away. Be sure to remind them of the task at hand before moving on to another activity.

2 – Work comes after fun

How you structure the school day makes a huge difference when it comes to avoiding power struggles. Try to create a routine where a period of work is always followed by a period of fun. This makes it less challenging for students and gives them something to look forward to at the end of their assignment.

3 – Delete your reactions

Try to maintain a Zen demeanor. Do not raise your voice or show any emotional reactions. Give clear instructions using visuals, first/then commands, and other methods. If the student tries to run away, stay calm and follow him without chasing. If they start to squirm, wait for it to pass and repeat the instruction firmly. It is imperative that students do what is asked of them without exception.

4 – Give them a choice

Giving your students a choice can be an effective way to eliminate a power struggle between you and them. Offering options gives them a sense of autonomy and control over their own learning experience. By providing options, your students are more likely to take responsibility for their decisions, which can lead to improved learning outcomes. Allowing choice also encourages you to think about alternative approaches that may work better for each student and allow for a stronger connection between the two parties.

5 – Give them space

Assigning points to your students can be helpful when trying to minimize power struggles between you and them. Designating spaces allows for more structure and organization of activities because everyone knows what their assigned place is. It also helps with classroom management, such as making sure everyone counts in the midst of any chaos or confusion that may occur during certain tasks or activities. In addition, it gives students a sense of security knowing exactly where they are expected to be and having a reliable place to go to participate in learning.

6 – Pick your battles

As a teacher, it is important to pick your battles to avoid power struggles in the classroom. Determine which topics or issues are worth addressing and when to avoid unnecessary conflict with your students. Be willing to compromise on certain topics and take a step back if necessary. Know when to let go of a situation or challenge rather than letting it escalate into an uncontrollable conflict.

By recognizing these opportunities and stepping back from those you consider unnecessary, you will be better able to maintain a positive relationship with your students and keep the classroom calm. How you act and react will ultimately determine a lot about the power struggles—or lack thereof—in the classroom.

7 – Know your students

As a teacher, it is essential that you take time each day to get to know your students better by having conversations about topics outside of school. This helps build relationships and foster mutual interests and respect between you and your students, ultimately leading to an environment conducive to learning without fear of power struggles or any other negative behavioral interactions. Taking just a few minutes each day to get to know your students on more than just an academic level can have lasting benefits for the entire classroom.

It is important to remember that the power struggle in the classroom does not have to be a constant battle of wills. By understanding how students think and feel, teachers can find alternative solutions and approaches to avoid these conflicts altogether. With better teacher-student relationships, everyone will benefit from better learning outcomes.

Taking a few moments each day to reflect on your interactions with students is key to ensuring a healthy classroom communication dynamic. Take some time today to review these tips for avoiding power struggles in the classroom—you may just find that it makes you a more effective educator!


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