This week for my K-2 students I set up a game where the students had partners. One partner was to stand in a hula hoop holding half of a pool noodle. In the front, back, left and right of the hula hoop a domed cone was placed. The idea of the game was that the defenders were to tag anyone who tried to steal a domed cone from them. Their partner was simultaneously attempting to steal the domed cones from other hoops. If the stole a cone they bring it back to their hoop. If they got tagged they had to touch a wall and attack another hoop. I did not make up the game. To see my lesson plan click here.
During the game, I had a student who happens to play about 60 hours a week of Roblox get upset and stop playing. I asked him why he wasn’t playing and he told me he RageQuit. I had to look that up. RageQuit: To stop playing a game out of an anger towards an event that transpired within the game. (Link) This idea of RageQuit is interesting. In video games, you can just turn the game off when you get mad. In PhysEd when you quit you are voiding the social contract that you made with your class. RageQuitting affects your classmates and the game.
If my students get upset they can walk on the outside of the gym at any time. That is a release that I purposefully set up. When they are walking there it shows me that there is a problem. They can then either return to the game when they are ready or come talk to me about what the issue is. If they reach that point I have missed an opportunity to step in though.
My goal as a teacher is to intervene before I have a student RageQuit. I want to notice the signs and approach the student and ask why they are frustrated. Sometimes the solution of Rock, Paper, and Scissors does wonders. Other times we work on breathing and other mindfulness techniques. We may have the conversation about big problems and little problems. Whatever the deal is the important part is that as teachers we need to intervene and de-escalate before it is time to RageQuit.
Some may call it grit, resilience, or perseverance. Whatever you call helping our students understand how to deal with their frustration and anger is a major part of our jobs. This may not be located directly in the standards or written as an objective in your plans but it may be the most important thing we teach our students. How do you deal with the anger when it arises? How can we take the feeling of frustration and allow it to dissipate? That is one piece of why teaching is an art, not a science. Each child will need different de-escalation techniques.
An example of this happened on Friday. A student with special needs was upset because I started our Movement Math class in a classroom. It was always in the gym before that. I knew he had struggled the previous day. I walked into his class and he started yelling and threw himself on the floor. I was able to discern that he was upset about the change (some students are good at change). I explained we would start in the class and roll into the gym halfway through the period. He told me he needed some time. I asked how much. He stated he needed ten minutes. I told him ten minutes was fine but if he wasn’t where he needed to be in ten there would be consequences.
I left his class and rejoined the main class that was beginning their movement math project. Ten minutes later this student rolled in ready to join us. If I had gone toe to toe on a power trip I would have ended up restraining the child. Instead, I used de-escalation and was able to get him to join for 35 of the 45 minutes avoiding the RageQuit.
My point of this blog is to let you understand that our students have a threshold of anger or frustration that they are willing to accept. If that threshold is exceeded they may go into a RageQuit. We need to understand our students and step in before this happens.