Classroom Management Strategies to Control Student Behavior
The range of roles EFL teachers plays to ensure that learning takes place is undoubtedly wide. Among these, we may see teachers as planners, deciding which aspects of the subject to teach and how to do it; as facilitators, providing learners with strategies to guide them in the quest for knowledge; and as managers, establishing the patterns of interaction among students and making sure they focus their attention on the lesson and engage in the proposed tasks. Considering these roles, I think the latter seems to be the hardest one to perform since it involves managing people’s attitude and behavior, which means establishing and maintaining discipline in such a way that it does not affect teacher-student rapport or create an unfriendly, threatening atmosphere in the classroom. This job seems to become even more demanding when instances of negative class participation such as disruptive talking, the use of L1 when L2 is expected, little concern about homework, tardiness, and lack of attention and interest are commonplace in the classroom.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Joseph K. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Dollase (1992) and Gordon (1991) posit that the biggest challenge confronting student teachers is how to establish and maintain order in the learning environment. According to the Hidden Curriculum (2014) article, “ classroom management refers to the wide variety of skills and techniques that teachers use to keep the students organized, orderly, focused, attentive, on task, and academically productive during a class. When classroom management strategies are executed effectively, teachers minimize the behaviors that impede learning for both individual students and group of students, while maximizing the behaviors that facilitate or enhance learning” (p.3). This task seeks to identify some classroom management strategies to control students’ behavior and enhance participation in the EFL classroom. Some of these strategies include the following;
Establish class rules.
Class rules guided by three basic principles identified by Brophy (2006) namely: “ Emphasize student expectations for behavior and learning rather than focusing only on the problematic behavior and discipline problems; support the learning environment by promoting active learning and students involved and not just compliance with rules; identify to your students the behaviors that are an integral part of the instructional agenda” (pp.39-40). And for the students’ to accept the class rules there should be an active negotiation between students and teachers over what should go onto the list of rules because rules are more effective if they are agreed by negotiation, and not seen to be imposed from the top down.
Another strategy is turning student groups into teams.
According to Epperson & Rossman (2013), “forming student groups into teams facilitate motivation, structure, trust, achieving objectives, collaboration, fosters a sense of belonging, focus, camaraderie and classroom management”. Teams can be created by building rapport, creating a team name, and then choosing a captain and a vice-captain. With these teams, students are more likely to take risks, and students taking risks constitute a huge part of learning another language.
The next strategy is the students’ seating arrangement.
The way students are seated in the classroom often determines the dynamics of the lesson. A simple change in the seating pattern can make an incredible difference to the group coherence and student satisfaction. Whatever seating pattern you choose or is imposed on you, the class is likely to be successful if you try to maximize eye contact, make sure that students are seated at a comfortable distance from each other, and also think in advance about how you will organize changing partners or changing groups.
The final strategy is motivating students.
Considering motivation in the context of classroom Ur (2012) suggests that; “ if the class is motivated to learn, it is more likely to be easy to manage” (p.246). Motivation is the urge that encourages somebody to pursue a course of action. To facilitate motivation, content, and materials should be chosen to reflect student interest, experience, and culture. Students are more likely to be engaged with what is going on, ( and are therefore unlikely to be disruptive) if they have something interesting to do. It is therefore very important to select appropriate content and calibrate challenges to meet students’ needs and abilities. We should make sure that our activities involve students’, excite their curiosity, and are full of fun and one way to do that is to employ VAK (Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic) in our lesson.
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Discipline problems cannot be tackled in isolation from motivation. This means that attempting to tackle either discipline problems or lack of motivation in isolation will not solve the problem. This is a multifaceted problem. Doyle’s work (1989; p.396) for example cautioned against dealing with discipline in isolation, stating that it provoked students' compliance rather than engagement. Likewise, Brophy (2006; p.39) advises shifting focus to active learning rather than just complying with rules. This serves to tell us that, lack of motivation can cause discipline problems reflecting on the same theme Penny Ur (2012) puts it in terms of; “ if the class is motivated to learn, it is more likely to be easy to manage” (p.246)
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