Classroom management skills require teachers to remember a lot of details and specific techniques.
It's also important to remember those attitudes and behaviors that have no place in your management style. Take a look a these 5 things you should never do and develop your classroom management accordingly.
5 Things You Should Never Do When Managing Your ESL Classroom
Embarrass Your Students
Language learning is tough enough at any age, and requires learners to take risks, speak up, and try things they have never done before. Of course teachers out there aren't wondering how they can embarrass their students. In fact there aren't many teachers who would do this intentionally, but it is easier than you might think to do this unintentionally. Be careful not to push your students when they just aren't ready. Give them time to gather their thoughts, and guide them to the answer instead of glaring it out of them. In ESL classes, there is always a certain amount of on-the-spot speaking and sharing, but you can see very clearly when a student is panicked or dreading their turn. Don't ever take that as an opportunity to embarrass the student or berate them for being unprepared. We all have bad days, and as we know, there are a lot of personalities in our classes. If you can be sensitive to a student in their time of need, hopefully the will learn from that, and know that the next time, they will be challenged no matter how unprepared they are. Sometimes teachers think they are using humor or cracking a joke when in reality, the joke happens to be at the expense of a student. Take care not to make light of student's mistakes, missteps, or inappropriate behavior. Take the high road and support even the most difficult student every chance you get.
Talk Over Their Heads
Wonderful ESL teachers speak to the students at the level they are, not where the teacher ideally would like them to be. It can be difficult sometimes to restrain speech or speak simply, especially with beginners, but it isn't just about speech patterns. It is about grammar structures, vocabulary, speed, and tone. If students have a hard time deciphering your grammar explanations or directions for exercises, you are setting them up for failure. You have to assess where your students are in their language acquisition to be able to teach to their level. Don't use a lot of idioms or street language unless they are learning it. Don't speak in high level tenses to students who are just studying past tense. Do your best to define new words on the spot and if you tend to use certain expressions often, teach them to your students so that everyone is on the same page. Keep instructions as simple as possible, and lay out how you are going to explain a complex game in beginner language. One habit you definitely don't want to slip into is in trying to speak simply, you start speaking incorrectly, leaving out articles or helping verbs. Don't fall into this trap. Always maintain correct language as you are the primary model of perfect English.
Run Out of Stuff to Do
An ESL teacher's best friend is her toolbox of games and activities that can be tapped into at a moment's notice. There is no excuse for running short on material for your lessons. You can always find more practice opportunities. Students should never see a teacher flustered because you don't have anything lined up next. If you see that your lesson planning underestimated the time it would take to do certain activities, you will be able to tell ahead of time that you will run short. While students are going through an activity, think quickly about what you can do to end the class on a high note. Is there a board game that you can play to practice new vocabulary? Is there homework that was only quickly reviewed and barely discussed? Do you have any pictures or cards with you that you can use to set something up very quickly? Sometimes in using a bit of creativity and thinking on your feet you can throw something together to fill the last minutes of the lesson, and it becomes your go-to activity!
Spend Time on Material They Can Do at Home
Learning a language is a very hands-on experience. To reinforce active learning, students should always have some take away work which they can do independently and hash out any problems. It is rare, if ever, to have students sitting doing fill in the blank grammar exercises as a part of a lesson. There might be a special circumstance where this might be necessary like if the students are preparing for a big exam like the TOEFL test or other college entrance exams. And even then, filling in the blanks or reading silently should be a very small percentage of the time that you spend deciphering the questions, vocabulary, and strategies to read and comprehend. Don't waste precious class time on work that is meant for the student to do at home. Do one or two examples of the homework in the grammar book, and then answer questions. If you have a free two to three minutes left at the end of class, students might appreciate being able to get a jump on their homework, but this should not be an everyday occurrence.
Follow the Book Exclusively
A good textbook is a godsend, but even then, it shouldn't be the only material the students are exposed to. Unfortunately there are a lot of bad text books out there that leave out a lot of key information, are organized strangely, have outdated examples, or don't have much substance. Whatever book you are using, first find its good points and its faults. Become accustomed to your textbooks and do your best to make them work for you. Because language learning is so interactive and requires such varied practice for fluency, turning pages in a book is no way to make the best use of class time. Engage your students in active learning and use the book as a jumping off point.
Positive classroom management is essential to your students' success.
Follow these 5 rules of things you should never do in the ESL classroom, and your students will thrive as you help drive them to their goals.