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How to Get Your Classroom Disciplined

How to Get Your Classroom Disciplined | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Discipline is an essential part of any classroom. It is the key component to effective classroom management. But how do teachers establish and implement a discipline plan for the class? The answer is simple. We’ve got to teach it!

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Jeande J. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

The Day One Rule

Yes, discipline in the classroom, like all the lessons from the textbook, should be taught to the students from day one no matter what the level is. I remembered doing a “new student” recruitment demonstration class a few years back. There were five new students aged around three to four years old. Most of them haven’t gone to kindergartens yet which means they only have a limited grasp of English and they know nothing about the classroom rules.

Some of them can barely speak in their native language. During the demonstration class, the students were expected to participate and behave well. But most of them were unsure of how to act during the class. From the beginning of the lesson, we had to model the rules we want to implement in the classroom. Model! You can’t just tell these young learners how you expect them to behave. You have to show them, use TPRs (Total Physical Response), model, and never stop.

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Easy Directions Rule

Teaching students the discipline plan doesn’t have to be as complicated as teaching them grammar structures. There’s no lesson plan needed to establish the rules. However, it is necessary for the teachers to clearly explain and show the students what behaviors are and are not appropriate. For beginner students, understanding the rules can be especially hard. But it will be easier with the help of TPRs and visual aids. For our beginner students, we usually prepare cut-out pictures to help them understand the meaning of the words used in making the rules. For example, we use a “happy face” to represent good behavior and a “sad face” to represent bad behavior. We use simple words or sentences like “Talking, talking. NO, NO, NO.”, “Shouting, shouting. NO, NO, NO.”, and “Show me good. I am good.” All of these go with simple TPRs and visual aids. The first few classes might be hard but as time goes on, the students become more familiar with these rules.

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Students’ Age Rule

Young students of intermediate or higher level are easier to handle. Setting out rules in the classroom is more exciting and interesting with these groups. They love getting involved in creating the classroom rules as well as getting the freedom to choose the punishment for bad behavior and rewards for good behavior. They become more careful and well-set in the class and even help in monitoring each other’s behavior. As a teacher, we should be prepared to support the correct behavior and to consistently motivate them.

Motivation Rule

Finding effective motivators to help the students behave positively and follow the classroom rules can be challenging. There are a lot of ways but the most effective and easiest for my classes is the point system. The point system is said to improve student behavior and motivation in a fun way. It works great for huge and small classes. When I’m teaching a huge class, I divide the students into equal teams. When I’m teaching a smaller class, I write each child’s name on the board and then give or take away points as necessary.

At the end of the lesson, we count the points together and I give them the point cards that they need to collect to be able to buy gifts displayed at the front desk. Gifts such as stickers, cards, stationeries, school supplies, and pool toys are provided by our school. Each item has equivalent points. A cute cartoon pen, for example, is equivalent to 500-point cards. The students only come to our school twice a week and usually, they get ten to twenty-point cards in one class.

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Although collecting point cards takes a long time, it makes the students work harder to earn points and buy the gifts they want. Some teachers give out gifts and prizes during the class or right after the class, this may work but giving them a long-term goal motivates them more to do their best in the class. After all their hard work, you will see their proud faces happily choosing the gifts they deserve.

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Classroom discipline shouldn’t be about getting the students to do what you want them to do. It’s about teaching them the right from wrong, helping them along the way, and supporting them with their choices on how to deal with their behavior. Make it a routine and be consistent.

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