How Good Classroom Management Depends On Exemplary Teacher Behavior
When a class is managed well, there is a minimum of disruptions that distract from learning. This is more of an issue in a class for children, as opposed to adults. Nevertheless, in all classes, maintaining the comportment of the group to facilitate learning is the objective of sound classroom management techniques. Furthermore, it is also important to develop cordial and friendly relations with learners on an individual basis, and with the class as a whole. Having a rapport with students, and creating a classroom community that is based on shared rules and norms that are understood and reasonable for everybody, is an essential part of classroom management. When accomplished, this creates a classroom culture that students feel safe and welcome in. This is particularly important in foreign language classrooms such as ESL, where students need to feel safe enough to make mistakes in front of their classmates when trying out and practicing new language structures.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Jan S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
There are several common-sense tools at a teacher’s disposal to affect the atmosphere of the class and that when used appropriately, will ensure a well-ordered classroom. There are the teacher’s presence and comportment itself. Does the teacher model exemplary behavior that is also expected from students? If there are rules for the class, does the teacher follow them in a way that demonstrates that he/she is also a member of the class community, and obeys the rules that apply to the students? Teachers are leaders, and in addition to being models of exemplary behavior, they must always do what they say they will do. If students are expected to arrive to class on time, so as not to waste precious minutes reserved for learning, then it follows that to create a climate where punctuality and respect for the class rules exists, the teacher must also obey and exemplify the best possible behaviors that are expected of students.
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An experienced instructor can use voice and body language to influence class dynamics. Looking directly at students, making eye contact, and remembering to address them by name all contribute to a sense of belonging, and give students the correct impression that they are important, valued members of the class. In ESL classes, it is important also that the teacher adjust their speaking pace to an appropriate level particular to each group of students. This helps with student comprehension during receptive activities such as listening to information transmitted by the teacher in English. When students can understand what is going on around them, disruptions due to boredom and confusion are kept to a minimum, and resorting to communication in their native language (e.g., such as asking classmates for clarification) is minimized.
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Teachers can also use the geography of the classroom to more effectively manage the class, and maximize learning. Depending on the class and the activity, desk arrangements that are more appropriate for group work and pair work can be utilized. If more order is called for, then the teacher can arrange the class in traditional rows, to minimize disruptions such as students talking to one another in a social manner that is disruptive, or outside of the scope of the class.
The teacher should always be aware of his/her physical position in the class. Is the teacher’s back turned to while writing at the Whiteboard? Is the teacher walking around the class during a Study activity, and monitoring the students as they complete a grammar worksheet? The teacher’s physical position depends on the activity and what is happening in the class. It can be used effectively to communicate, or it can be a hindrance, such as if a teacher were to make the mistake of giving instructions while writing on the whiteboard with his/her back turned to the class.
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There is, rightly, a great deal of importance placed on teachers being able to communicate clearly what is happening in the class, and what is expected to happen in the class. Teachers need to be able to convey to students what the instructions are for all activities. If students don’t understand what is going on or are otherwise confused, it creates more opportunities for them to be disruptive, not in any malicious sense, but simply due to their confusion they are more apt to resort to their native language or become bored. For these reasons, the instructions teachers must give are clear and level-appropriate.
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Finally, when dealing with problems in the class, it is of paramount importance that the teacher always maintains his/her composure. All classroom dilemmas can be de-escalated first, by having a calm and cool teacher. Follow the rules that are in place already at the school institution where one is teaching, and that all students know and recognize are the norm for that school culture. Most issues can be resolved in the class so long as the teacher is above reproach, and models exemplary behavior at all times. This is the hallmark of leadership, and students will respond to it with respect. Effective classroom management depends first on exemplary behavior on the part of the teacher.
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