Keep Calm and Shoot Straight

A Blog for Teachers
by Mary Jean Powers

Angry Students

Oct 18, 2021

Anger is a wind which blows out the lamp of the mind.”

Robert Green Ingersoll

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

The first time I taught English in South America, Carlos threw a fit outside my classroom. Every. Single.  Day. Why? Because his class time was limited to a couple of hours; he wanted to be there ALL day. He was angry because he had to wait his turn.  He would sit outside my door and sulk, cry, avoid eye contact, and yell at the kids who were learning inside. When it was finally his turn, he would enter the room, take his seat, put his head on the table, and sleep the entire class period! He never answered a question or responded in any way. At first, this bothered me because he had made such a stink about not being in class! But I soon realized that Carlos needed the small group setting. He just wanted a safe, quiet place for a little while; he wanted to be close. So, every time I walked near him, I would touch him on the shoulder or stroke his sleeping head, and occasionally I would ask him questions that he wouldn’t answer … just so he knew I was aware of his presence. Week after week, month after month, his consistent response to class time was anger followed by sleep. Then suddenly, everything changed. He smiled, he sat up, he answered questions, and he knew everything I had taught in previous lessons!

Anger is a symptom, not a root

As teachers, we understand that anger is not a root problem; it is a symptom. Most often, the roots connected to anger are either fear or unresolved hurt. In Carlos’ case, fear of rejection, abandonment, being alone, being unseen. With other students, the root was unresolved pain, i.e., the lack of forgiveness that is necessary for one’s soul to heal after trauma. Carlos was a boy who Never wanted to return to his past in any way. He was so wounded by parents, family, school, and life, that he radically distanced himself from every part of his past. The only information he volunteered was that his mother cleaned houses, his stepfather did not work, and he was one of eight children. He did not talk about it; he would not talk about it. There were undoubtedly many reasons …

Carlos lost his way.  He was just a boy, a lost little boy. Several of us worked together to help him find his way “home.”

We all have students in our classrooms who have lost their way. They act out differently, but they are lost children. What can you do today to help them find their way “home” to community, health, soundness, forgiveness, and well-being?  What is the role you are to play as a healing agent in their lives?

About Keep Calm and Shoot Straight

I am a teacher. You, too? I hope you love the profession as much as I do! I was 16 when I got my first teaching gigs – I had 20 private piano students and a Sunday School class of 4 and 5-year olds! At that point in my “career,” my definition of teacher was very limited. But now – after 45+ years of experience – I have come to realize that teacher can mean many different things. I’d like to share some of those insights with you! My posts will range from quotes to prayers, from cartoons to words of wisdom. Much of my teaching experience has been international, so you'll get to watch some video stories from around the globe. Jesus is the best Teacher I know, so I will be including Him in this blog, as well. I hope my thoughts and my story will encourage, provoke, and inspire you to become the teacher you’ve been created to be!

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Mary Jean Powers

Mary Jean Powers

B.A. in Christian Education
M.A. in Biblical Studies
Music teacher (band and choir director, private instruction) for 35 years
International Bible teacher for 17+ years
Certified Walk Thru the Bible instructor
Certified TESL International Instructor
CEU Provider for ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International)
Certified Life Coach and Chaplain

Who am I? A teacher coming alongside teachers!