Classroom tantrums: How violent behaviour tackles teachers

By Misch PautschLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

What happens when fists fly in the classroom? The third part of our series on violence in schools deals with outbursts of anger in the classroom, how they make "normal" lessons impossible, ideal ideas of inclusion and a reorientation of the educational task.

A whole series of projects and adjustments are intended to prepare Luxembourg's schools and pupils for a rapidly changing future. But regardless of their merits or faults, many of them, says Joëlle Damé, spokesperson for the teaching staff union SEW, are currently being nipped in the bud by a more acute problem: Tantrums in the classroom. "At the moment, in some classes it doesn't matter what language the literacy lessons are supposed to be in… because there is simply no school going on in them at all." More and more often, she says, classes are interrupted by frequently violent outbursts from pupils. When you have children with pronounced psychosocial problems in the classroom, even experienced teachers reach their limits, says Damé: "I spoke to a colleague who has been teaching school for 20 years and is currently no longer able to teach because some children in the class are constantly at a boiling point. They risk exploding at any moment. And while four adults are trying to calm down a child who can't control himself, the rest of the class is certainly not learning anything either."

Often, she says, this means that colleagues from other classes have to help out to stop children from hurting themselves, other children or teaching staff. Crisis intervention programmes are currently being set up by individual schools. A national concept does not yet exist. This poses a number of issues, says Damé: "Our 'Pompjeesplang' (fire-fighter plan) stipulates that one member of school staff must be available for acute problems every hour. That sounds good at first, but the reality is that we have children who are kept busy from Monday at 8 a.m. until Friday at 2 p.m. – and it really is more "keeping them busy" than real school supervision. Of course, this also means that the other children get less attention during this time…" She herself was kicked in the stomach while trying to stop a fight – while she was pregnant.

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