6 Ways to Improve Your Classroom Management Skills
To ensure an effective, beneficial, and enjoyable experience of learning, it is important to consider a range of factors within a classroom which have the potential to benefit or hinder a lesson. Such factors include the teacher’s use of eye contact, the grouping of students, the layout of the classroom, and the amount of time the teacher and students talk, as well as building rapport with students and maintaining discipline within the classroom. Ultimately these factors are important for a teacher to understand as they have the propensity to determine learning outcomes.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Sarah L.
Eye contact, gestures and voice
The teacher’s use of eye contact, gesturing, voice clarity and projection are all important considerations within a classroom setting, as they allow a teacher to build rapport and convey meaning. The use of these can ensure students become engaged, encouraged and interested in the class - such as if a teacher gestures to add visual interest or employs voice variation to encourage attention, - and are therefore an integral part of a teacher’s arsenal. Such techniques can be used incorrectly however which may lead to poor learning outcomes. This can also risk students feeling intimidated, disinterested, and otherwise adversely affected within the classroom, which ultimately hinder the learning process. For this reason it is important for teachers to understand how such techniques can be beneficial in their classroom and to employ them effectively.
Also read: Top Mistakes to Avoid in the Classroom While Teaching English Abroad
The grouping of the students in terms of individual work, pair-work, small groups or a whole class can be utilised by a teacher to achieve greater learning outcomes, especially as different groupings can be beneficial to different scenarios. It is important for a teacher to consider class size and furniture within the room, but ultimately different groupings can be very positive for students. Some of the benefits of pair-work for example may include the ability for students to share thoughts and ideas with each other before confronting the class, while the benefit of individual work may be that the teacher is able to respond to individual learning differences amongst students. There are more adverse outcomes to some groupings so it’s important as a teacher to be aware of these too, such as the potential for pair-work to lead to a loud classroom where students may revert back to their original language, or whole-class groupings that can be intimidating to a quiet or shy student. It is important for a teacher to understand the pros and cons of each approach and to employ them tactfully.
The layout of the classroom is another factor that can assist with learning outcomes and can affect the management of the classroom. Within the classroom, it is important for a teacher to consider the impact of seat layout on student relationships, class discussions and atmosphere, and whether a teacher will be able to maintain control of a class. Classroom arrangements range from traditional rows, horseshoes, and small groupings, to separate tables. As students are highly aware of the teacher’s position in a classroom and what their manner may convey, it is important to consider the classroom layout in comparison to the teacher’s position to ensure a positive atmosphere and an un-intimidating feel to the class that is most beneficial for the students and teacher alike.
Teacher and student talking time
Teacher talking time (TTT) and student talking time (STT) are both integral parts of the learning process, it is therefore important to find a balance between the two depending on what work and activities the class involves each day. TTT is beneficial for students as it allows them to listen to and be exposed to natural and correct English, although this can also cause issues if a teacher incorporates jargon or language that is too complex for the students. For this reason a teacher needs to be aware of their language and how much time they are talking to ensure students remain engaged and interested in the learning process.
Other important factors in managing a classroom include building rapport with the students, which is important as it allows for higher engagement and confidence from the students, and therefore means they are more likely to contribute and participate. This ultimately contributes to the atmosphere of the classroom and the interest of the students, and can be extremely beneficial towards the learning process.
Also read: How to Motivate High School Students in the ESL Classroom
Also important is the degree of discipline that is employed within a classroom; it is important for the teacher to maintain a firm and reasonable balance so as to maintain control, but to not overdo it so as to ensure the students are receiving the most beneficial learning environment. Problem behaviour may arise for a range of reasons, so it is important for a teacher to be aware of what is causing the behaviour so as to best handle it and reduce the likelihood of future problem behaviour (if possible). The teacher is setting an example for the class, so it is important for the teacher to be respectful, professional, punctual, fair and consistent, and this will encourage students to embody the same.
Ultimately there are many factors that influence the classroom environment and atmosphere, and if a teacher considers these and understands them well, then the most beneficial learning environment can be cultivated. An awareness of the different stages of a class and the techniques that are useful for differing situations will allow a teacher to promote learning, interest, and engagement, and ensure a positive and valuable outcome for the classroom.
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