Students look to their teachers for direction, tone, and communication. Start off on the right foot and create the best classroom environment possible.
Set in motion these 3 surefire troubleshooting tips to help you manage your classroom successfully and expertly.
Try These 3 Surefire Ways to Expertly Manage Your Classroom
Set the Tone and Own it
From day one, it is essential to set the tone of your classroom, and provide students with continuity. Setting the tone is not just having sets of applicable rules or a welcoming classroom design. It is about creating a complete environment that is approachable for learning, and also focused on getting work done in a cooperative manner. Obviously every teacher has his or her own style and it will come through in the tone in which you handle yourself, how you will deliver lessons, and how you involve students. Set the tone according to your personality, and what is comfortable for you because some of the worse mistakes are made when teachers try to be something they are not, or present in a way that is alien to them. So choose your delivery method combined with your in-class personality and stick to it. Be confident that you are providing the learning environment students need, and that your demeanor is predictable. That's not to say that you have to be boring or never take risks; just do those things within your own comfort zone and and with your own flair.
You may need to make adjustments or tweak the way you present yourself or the material. Ask students for feedback at the end of classes or quarters, and really look at the suggestions or constructive criticism as a way to be better for the next group. The tone of each class may also be slightly different from the next. If you have one class of extroverted beginners and another class of shy advanced-level students, devise ways to get the most from each group as a whole. The class should be a place students want to be, and they should feel always feel comfortable, challenged, and welcomed.
Are you the type of teacher who is extremely strict regarding homework and tardiness? Or are you a bit of a softie that allows students to often get away with poor behavior or lack of participation? Do you think your class is out of control or not progressing? Each of these presents a different issue, and each one can be remedied by examining your own trouble areas and rectifying them. Teachers who are overly-strict, especially in an ESL classroom, generally don't do well because they lack the flexibility needed for students to thrive. However, if you are too nice or come off as someone who doesn't follow through, students will not respect you. It might be difficult to reckon with at first, but if there are constant issues in your classrooms, your tone, or lack there of, could be to blame. So troubleshoot from the very first class, and define your tone with each new group.
Always Give Feedback that Matters
All students, no matter what the subject, want feedback. Language learners, in particular require a lot of positive reinforcement and sometimes constant praise that they are indeed doing it right, speaking correctly, or having success. However it is not appropriate to provide praise where it is not earned or deserved.
Feedback must be carefully tailored to each learner for it to have desired impact. The painfully shy student needs to see a lot of smiles and get a lot of encouragement when he or she speaks. Even if it is not completely correct, you have to give them kudos for trying. More extroverted students should also receive positive feedback, but it will mean more to achieve it rather than getting it just for trying.
It is also necessary to to provide constructive criticism and there is an art to doing this for groups and individuals. In order to consistently provide accurate feedback, you must be aware of the students' performance, goals, issues, and interests. When you show an interest in students' goals and progress they will be more apt to listen to your advice, take criticism and run with suggestions. Be honest, speak from the heart, and sugarcoat only when absolutely necessary.
Communicate Long and Short Term Goals
Students need to know what is coming, what is expected, and what will be happening in the now as well as in the future. It is advisable to put together a syllabus for each individual class. It should roughly outline each week detailing topics, assignments, and materials. It doesn't have to be exact or tremendously specific. You can specify five to seven key topics that you will definitely cover, two to three milestone projects or assignments, and your overarching expectations for the class.
For your own organization, it is vital to know your materials, what topics you will put a spotlight on, and what you might skip over. You can then tailor lesson plans to what you realistically expect to finish. Teaching ESL is very situational, and it can be difficult to gage just how much material you will complete in a given time frame. There are a lot of variables at play so be sure to give students a rough idea of what they can expect. If you have plans for one big project, it is only fair to tell them at the beginning of the quarter, so that they are mentally prepared when it comes up. You should also always alert them to how much testing they will encounter, your grading criteria, the homework expectations, as well as attendance policies.
Teachers owe it to their students to develop solid classroom management skills.
It is essential that your style shines through, students are given feedback, and you are organized in all your communications. Following these tips will help free you of problems and troubleshoot any issues before they arise.