How Does a Teacher Successfully Manage a Classroom?
Finding the perfect balance between being a fun teacher who creates an environment in which students want to be a part of and are excited to learn and a teacher who is firm enough to maintain discipline in the classroom is possibly the most daunting challenge of a new teacher.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Christine F. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Let’s think about a possible scenario for a new teacher.
The very first class assigned to him will be once a day with 18-second grade students. These students are monolingual and the class is the only time they will be learning English each day. The teacher will see these students every day for a 50-minute class. This new teacher decides to show up in costume on the first day. On the first day, he shows up wearing a red clown nose and a goofy hat thinking this will get their attention and they can get to know each other in a fun way. The students are already slightly anxious about starting to learn English. His appearance gets their attention but not the attention he was seeking. The students are not able to focus nor do they want to listen because he appears to be more of a performer than a teacher. He manages to come up with a couple of games to engage the students but overall it is not a great first day.
The second day, the teacher arrives in class looking more professional, ready to start teaching. However, the children were hoping for another performance or game playing and did not take well to the serious teacher who had come to teach them. Having short attention spans already makes it difficult for the students to stay on task for more than a few minutes at a time. They want to play and interact with each other.
This fictional scenario is an example of how not to manage a class.
Many successful teachers begin their new school year more seriously. As a rule, it is easier to start as a more serious and sterner educator. Once the teacher has earned the respect of the students, it will be easier to lighten things up a bit and enjoy a pleasant and fun atmosphere where the students are engaged, enthusiastic, and ready to learn.
There are numerous techniques for achieving a well-managed classroom.
Probably the most important way to begin is simply by being a friendly face. Teachers who smile are likely to give off a better first impression than those who do not naturally do so. For young learners such as in the scenario introduced above, it may also be meaningful to greet students individually as they arrive in class. Making eye contact assures that both the student and the teacher have acknowledged each other. It remains necessary throughout the teaching process. Teachers should be looking at their students directly so that they can see that they are listening and hopefully understanding the content of the lesson. Eye contact can also be used when addressing particular students and a nod can elicit a response.
Body language and voice
Gestures can play a vital role in the classroom. Using familiar gestures (ones that are commonly understood internationally) can help to solidify the meaning of certain vocabulary and the usage of those words. A simple example when teaching the word “hello,” a teacher can use the gesture of waving their hand and then extend that gesture to a handshake and perhaps introduce the phrase, “It’s nice to meet you.” Gestures can help in managing the class by reinforcing the instructions and adding visual interest. Additionally, in a lesson such as this, using student’s names may increase participation.
The way a teacher uses his or her voice will also make a difference in how the students receive the information given to them. The intonation should be varied and the projection will need to change according to the circumstance. In the same class where all of the students are facing the teacher at the front will require a different volume than when students are in pairs and the teacher is walking around. In general, a teacher needs to be sure that everyone can hear properly and that they avoid speaking in a monotone voice whenever possible. A monotone voice is likely going to lose students’ interest.
Various other factors help in setting up a well-managed classroom.
These include but are not limited to the above-mentioned behavior of the teacher but also the various ways that a classroom itself can be set up. Changing the set-up from time to time can help maintain interest while keeping the students engaged. One day, the students could be seated traditionally in rows. A different day, place them in groups at one table or with desks connected and facing each other. Grouping or pairing up students often should help increase student talking time in addition to student-to-student interaction. It also creates a fun atmosphere when students can get up out of their seats and move around. This is especially true for young learners. This can be done when playing certain games where they will be learning but also engaged in a fun activity on their feet.
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Successful classroom management means that the teacher has established positive discipline in the classroom. Negative behavior will undoubtedly occur at one time or another so learning how to respond will be key to any teacher’s success in gaining the respect that he or she needs to be a good educator. Teachers worldwide have developed techniques that work when managing a class. Specifically, when managing a class of young learners. It is important to be fair and consistent. Shouting is counterproductive. Positive reinforcement is always better received than negative. Acting immediately and using a non-verbal technique by simply looking in the direction of the students can sometimes be all that is needed. And finally, set a good example. The teacher should show up to class on time and well prepared.
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