How to Manage a Class Aged 12-14 at the Beginning of the School Year
Class management is essential. I have been teaching art classes for three years now, and especially with art classes, a well-managed classroom is fundamental for a lesson to be successful.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Verdonck H. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
At the beginning of my career, I thought that my students and I could act as equals, like friends, but that was not the case. Soon they began to think of my classes as being an hour of recess instead of a lesson. The problem with that is when something goes wrong the pupils don’t take you seriously anymore, and it is hard to adjust the situation once you made the name of being a (too) tolerant teacher. That is why it is essential as a teacher to make very clear rules at the beginning of each school year and to impose those rules consequently. The ruse cannot be too strict and have to be reasonable. They can be made together with the students, and the students have to know why these rules are implied.
But once the rules are broken, action must be taken. Especially at the beginning of the school year, the students must know which lines they cannot cross. You have to be strict on the first day of school. The challenge is to be strict but to remain calm, friendly and reasonable. Always explain your actions. In the first year of my career, I had a problem with this. I was insecure, and when a student crossed the line, I made threats, but I did not follow them through.
The Importance of Rules
Also, when the students complained about the punishment, I would sometimes say: “For once it is ok, but next time…”. So now the students complained each time I punished a student. These first few weeks in a new school as a new teacher I had a lot of stress. The students, especially those in the second year, could sense that and started testing me right away. A large group of students can be very intimidating, especially without a decent principal to support you and back you up. The solution to this problem is to be well prepared for this. If possible, talk to other teachers on how they manage their class. You can meditate to lighten the stress.
You have to be in control from the start. Act confident. Make sure you don’t look afraid and nervous. Also, make sure you are not afraid to punish If needed and to be consequent. Group activities and pair work are ok, but only if you are in control of the class. That first year It was tough to reverse the situation, and it was very unpleasant for me as well as for the students.
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So, If you are a new teacher, a bit of over-preparation cannot hurt. When you don’t already know your students, you have to observe the class dynamics, to see where the problems are coming from, and act so the students know they cannot mess with you. A few weeks of being a strict teacher gives you control over your class. Having control over your class gives you the freedom to teach the way you want later. Always be consequent, assertive and never aggressive!
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