Developing classroom management skills will save you time, develop a positive learning environment, and help students succeed.
Utilize these top 5 classroom management strategies that really work, and see wonderful gains time and time again.
Are You Using These Top 5 Classroom Management Strategies?
Set Clear Guidelines and Create Class Rules as a Group
Too often classroom management is mistaken for setting rules, but it is so much more than that. ESL teachers tend to be very talented at speaking clearly and delivering clearly-outlined goals. Put those skills to work and make sure that you spend a chunk of time at the launch of every new class to set clear guidelines, offer-up expectations, and do a group activity to devise your classroom rules. First off, guidelines can be defined as anything that the teacher deems a necessity in his or her classroom. You might be very strict on one matter, but flexible on another. Your code of conduct needs to be clearly defined in order to set students up for success. Some possible guidelines you may want to focus on are:
- Correction: How do you handle it with each of your levels? Outline very specifically how you plan to correct students, whether or not they should correct each other, and what you hope students gain for your correction technique.
- Translation: How much translation will you allow at any given time? Do you have zero tolerance for it, or are there activities and exercises where it will be incorporated? If you have a uni-cultural class, be careful to determine how often students can use electronic dictionaries, write out translations for vocabulary , or help one another by explaining directions in their native language. If you happen to have a multi-cultural class translation should only be done in very specific exercises, otherwise your class will become noisy with many languages other than English.
- Academic Expectations: What are the specific expectations upon students? Inform them about your views on testing, quizzes, homework assignments, group work, and individual projects.
- Defining Rules: This should be done as a group. Spend some time creating a list of classroom rules that are important to the students. This way, when a rule is broken students will often step in to offer warnings or discourage particular behavior. It can be a helpful reminder to write the rules out on sheets of poster-sized paper and hang them in prominent places around the room. Point to them for reminders and warnings before you discipline.
Trust Builds Confidence
If students are going to be extremely productive they need to trust their teacher. This isn't an automatic state simply because you are at the front of the classroom. You have to gain and build trust, mutually. Students must trust that you are an expert on everything to do with the English language and the culture you are representing. That means you must set a good example, do as you say, and always speak correctly. You have to be grammatically sharp and able to field tough questions on your feet. It's also helpful if you can explain complex principles and vocabulary in simple terms. Your language should be simple, but not over-simplified, and your demeanor should be relatively animated and easy to interpret. When students see that you help them problem-solve, provide gentle direction when they are stuck, and make the class about them, not you, you will gain their trust. You will notice their confidence growing as shyness is shattered, and they begin taking risks and jumping in to assist each other.
Be Creative and Provide Variety
No one likes to be bored to tears, no matter what subject is being studied. You must do your very best to make the most mundane topics appealing, entertaining, and memorable. Add in humor where it fits best, and spontaneity can breed creativity. If you are afraid to take risks with your students they also will be afraid of change or challenge. Create your own games, and tweak traditional ideas. Take a game like hangman and add in a speed round, or give teams certain challenges. Let students take the lead in games instead of the teacher always providing the puzzles. Variety is also important, but it needs to be balanced with continuity. For example, if you always correct the homework at the beginning of class, change the routine by doing it at the end, and making a game out of it. Switch the order of your lessons, make additions to exercises to bring on more challenge, or try something completely new and different for a whole lesson. Grammar doesn't have to be dry! Involve students in your presentation by teaching to their interests, providing silly examples with students' names, and extrapolating from them what they already know! You must involve them, and if you feel them slipping, change gears, crack a joke or have them stand and stretch. If they begin to glaze over, it may be time for a break or a change in pace.
Find Out What's in it for Them
One key to teaching any group is to find out why they are there. What does each individual stand to gain from your class? Do a series of activities that get students talking about their interests and why learning English is important to them. Then remember the details and bring their desires into your lessons. If you don't ask you may never know what motivates them. Some students may be learning English for fun, while others need it for their jobs, a college degree, or GED work. Find out so that you can tailor lessons to their needs.
Everyone has pet peeves, or things that irritate them. Communicate yours and devise fun ways for students to define their own pet peeves. Students need to know what really irks you, and also what behavior just will not be tolerated. For example, if you get really upset when students neglect to do homework, you need to let them know that there will be steam coming out of your ears if this is a regular occurrence! Perhaps you cannot stand it when students chew gum or eat during class since speaking is expected. If it bothers you, you may want to include it on your list of rules or classroom guidelines. If they are simple annoyances, then you might just want to have fun doing lessons on pet peeves; they can really be enlightening.
Make your classroom a positively wonderful place to learn and develop.
Try out these 5 strategies and you will discover that students will respond and your classroom will manage itself!