Classroom Management Tips And Tricks From OneStopEnglish.com
One Stop English has hosted some excellent methodology debates (such as on reading skills, teacher burn out, and grammar), so I was over the moon to see a new one, by Adrian Tennan, on classroom management.
He points out that classroom “issues” come up for most teachers, and throughout their respective careers; they don’t just characterize the classrooms of the new and inexperienced. Teachers who realize this are in a better place to proactively solve those problems than those who just feel they have failed as teachers or something because something doesn’t go right in the classroom.
His advice does not consist so much of practical tips but rather describes how to approach classroom management issues: first of all, identify the problem clearly and establish why it is in fact a problem – then look for underlying causes. It’s not enough to know what the problem is; you have to know why it happens to figure out a solution.
While ultimately he says the teacher should take responsibility for managing the class, he does mention the utility of making students aware of how their actions affect others, and of creating an atmosphere favorable to open discussion.
I like the tone this takes and I think it strikes a good balance. The steps are fairly obvious, and much of the time I think they are steps most of us take anyway, without even thinking about it. But it is good to see it outlined as effective.
I think there is something to be said to raising student awareness of how their actions affect others as well. Sue at ELT Notebook had a great suggestion for dealing with late students – show them your lesson plan and make an effort to convey how everything builds up: being late doesn’t only affect the late person but the whole group.
As always, I question how far you can go with “awareness-raising” with adults. It’s absolutely true that their actions do affect others…do they really not know this? And if they don’t, are you as an EFL teacher really in a position to make them aware? I don’t know if the student in the example given was in an adult class, but it doesn’t take deep analysis to realize that talking on your mobile phone disrupts class and negatively affects others. I think an EFL teacher who can politely, subtly, and in an endearing way make this crystal clear has a great skill. But I think one more important skill is realizing that you may not be able to address every problem and build the perfect group: do your best and don’t give up, but work with what you’ve got.