Glenn Nystrup's teaching career has spanned over 40 years in the Hudson Valley and a range of academic subjects from math to special education, as well as sculpting, rock climbing, and movement and dance. He has worked with students from pre-school to college-age, both inside the classroom and out. His book, Anger in the Classroom: Finding Freedom From Anger, was released in 2019 and recently won the 2020 IndieReader Discovery Award for education.
What audience did you want to reach with your book?
This book is for all teachers in a classroom or not, for all who work with children, and for parents looking to enrich the parent-child relationship and address the difficult moments arising from the natural transition from dependence to independence in that relationship.
A reader who is interested in personal transformation may find this book of value as well, for much of my 45 years in the classroom have been about transformation. It is this possibility that each of us has for significant growth throughout our full lives that excites me. For those who share this excitement, this attraction to expansion, and this stepping into new perspective and new abilities, I offer this book and these case stories.
What drew you to anger as the topic for this book?
No one is without experience in regards to anger. It is ubiquitous and often arrives in many forms, from subtle to explosive, both within and around us. It is a topic that can provide a rich learning ground.
It's also a powerful force that needs to be dealt with in its own right. In a classroom, anger can cause friction, unease, distraction, dislike, bias, mistreatment, and worse. It must be dealt with. And not only in students, but in teachers, administrators, and all whose professional work sets them around children.
Can anger ever play a positive role in the classroom?
I have seen anger play a useful role in the classroom, and I have given a couple examples of this in the book. But most often, when someone thinks their anger or expression of anger is useful, they are deluding themselves. It is a dangerous undertaking and can easily backfire. Here is one piece of insight I offer from the book: "In the classroom, never express anger when you are angry."
If someone were to read your book and commit to adopting one new habit, what do you think would create the most transformative change in their daily life?
To become a better teacher I suggest taking on a new type of learning for yourself, be it rock climbing, knitting, or foraging for wild edibles. As you learn, note carefully what works best for you. When is the learning and retention the strongest? What is it that interferes? Notice how you learn differently, and are motivated differently by the state you are in, physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Then, focus on how you can verbalize about your learning and how you can pass the knowledge and insights on to others.
To enhance this entire learning experience, take notes along the way. Write down insights and anecdotal stories whenever something of value appears. Get into the habit. Keep a small notebook handy at all times. When you look back at your notes new insights may arise and the stories you collect can enrich any teaching.