________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 19 . . . . May 26, 2006


Keep Cool! Strategies for Managing Anger at School.

Paula Galey.
Markham, ON: Pembroke, 2004.
72 pp., paper, $18.95.
ISBN 1-55138-168-0.

Subject Headings:
Anger in children.
Bullying in schools-Prevention.
School violence-Prevention.


Review by Gina Varty.

**** /4

This book made me angry. What were the triggers? Feeling frustrated and perhaps a sense of injustice. How angry? More than annoyed but less than burning. Who made me angry? The author. What did I do? Calmed down, told someone, wrote about it. Why do I feel angry? Because the author neglected to tell her readers anything about herself, her background, education, teaching experience, where the "cool" illustrations and activities came from, or even how she was able to balance an apple on top of her index finger for the cover. Perhaps the publisher is to blame? There, I feel better. The Hassle Log really helps put things in perspective.

     The back cover indicates that this unique handbook provides everything teachers need to make their classrooms and schools more harmonious, productive, and safe for all their students. Teachers will find all the tools they need to get a handle on bullying and aggression as they help students develop a wider repertoire of responses for managing their anger before it spirals out of control.

     The material can be used with all students as part of the health curriculum, by specialist staff (guidance counsellors, behaviour support workers) individually with at-risk students, in peer tutoring with senior students teamed with junior at-risk students, with small groups of at-risk students with a teacher's assistant, or by parents or caregivers working with their children individually in the home.

     I would add that many of the activities would be helpful for all families and for the angry child within each of us. Being able to tell people how you feel and what you want to happen, and having a collection of calming activities to draw upon, gives one a sense of personal power and greater self-control.

     Paula Galey provides fifty-eight pages of detailed teacher notes and reproducible activities. Keep Cool! is divided into six sections that she indicates take about one hour each to complete. Each section begins with teacher guidelines supported by student activity sheets. The sections:

     Introduction - what anger is and where it comes from - monitoring activities like : a mood graph and knocking down walls.

     Where Does My Anger Come From? - changing our behaviours - exploring activities like : drawing anger and breaking habits.

     I'm Boiling Over - anger triggers in themselves and others - choice making activities like : excess baggage and angering others.

     Focus on the Physical - controlling our responses - reactive activities like : keeping calm (bubble wrap bubble-popping or blowing soap bubbles), time out process and procedure, and interpreting body signals.

     Focus on Thoughts - calming thoughts - restructuring activities like : putting things in perspective and considering the consequences.

     Powerful Words - saying what you mean - assertive activities like : resolving problems and negotiating.

     Reviewing and Consolidating - remembering the process - reflecting activities like : learn the lessons pages (e.g. when you're feeling angry remember...that you can make a choice about how you handle your anger) and the graduation certificate.

     The book concludes with a very detailed three-page "keyword" index.

     Keep Cool! is highly recommended for teachers and principals, parents, and individuals looking for anger management strategies. For other than my small quibble with the author and/or publisher, this book is a remarkable source of guidance and strategies to help students (learners of all ages) understand and deal with their emotions.

     I feel much better about my anger now. But I still don't understand how such a wonderful book was published or even written without more credits for the author. Perhaps I'll go blow some bubbles.

Highly Recommended.

Gina Varty is a teacher-librarian in Edmonton currently providing library supply for Edmonton Public Schools.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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