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Who’s in Control?… Classroom Management Techniques

source:Teach Abroad time:2019-12-04 14:09:36 read:789

Teaching English in China


Applying classroom management techniques into practice is far different from learning about the methodology and theory. There’s a degree of charisma and intuition which simply comes with hours spent in the classroom. The more hours you spend, the greater your conditioning and control of the environment. As theory turns into practice and practice turns into success, our confidence grows and our students sense this. So how can we fast track to this kind of confidence? How can new teachers exert instant control over the classroom?


Ok, well look… there are no magic bullets and each classroom environment can contain different variables. Sometimes there's absolutely no getting out of a bad lesson! It happens to every teacher, no matter how experienced. Sometimes all the laws of fate seemingly conspire so absolutely everything which could go wrong does go wrong! It could be faulty AC, a sick student, a broken photocopier or last night’s dinner playing havoc with your stomach. As a teacher you simply can’t account for every variable but there are general rules which can be implemented to improve your chances of regular success and a functioning classroom environment. The reality of ESL teaching is that many teachers are stretched outside their comfort zones at the beginning of their careers. This leads to a commonly felt phenomena of imposter syndrome. The feeling that we aren’t real teachers or we somehow stumbled into a position of immense responsibility without being ready. This is a common feeling and it’s compounded by being far from our usual environment. This feeling subsides with time and experience. Reassurance from our peers and school management proves testament to our ability. Here are some useful tips and strategies to help us progress into competent classroom orchestrators:


Voice Control: the ability to sincerely throw your voice and dominate a situation when required. Try to be fully convicted in the event you have to do this. It’s unhelpful to be a teacher who continuously shouts but it’s important to have this in your armoury if required.

Non-verbal Communication: your hand gestures are very important. Realise you are communicating with the students constantly through your hands, facial expressions and posture. Stand attentively and seriously. Use open hand gestures for explanations and become animated with facial expressions to drive home points. Leave the frown at the door if you're having a particularly bad day.


Model Behaviour: encourage reciprocal behaviour from your students by acting in the way you want them to act. This can be through polite language and compliance behaviour. Students will tend to mirror trusted authoritative figures as they do with their parents.


The Raising of Hands: Encourage students to raise their hands if they wish to talk. It’s imperative they learn not to shout nor speak over each other. This should be extended to asking for permission to use the toilet. Don’t reward over-use of raising hands as it steals attention away from others. Be observant with the quieter members of the classroom and invite them into the dialogue.



Let Students Establish Some Guidelines: It doesn’t hurt to let a general consensus arise in the classroom of what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. The there’s a general agreement then other students will help you install classroom discipline if some members veer from the agreement.


Document and Display Rules: Don't be afraid to have a contract of behaviour displayed in the classroom. Those you stray can have their name publicly displayed.


Avoid Punishing the Whole Class: Individual disruptive behaviour should be penalised individually rather than the suffering of the entire group.


Use Incentives and Reward Systems: this can be cost free or very low cost. Using stickers or points systems over a period of weeks leading to an overall prize, which could simply be a certificate. Kids can be inherently competitive and this can be used to your advantage.

Positive and Negative Feedback to Parents and Teaching Assistants. Sometimes the help of parents can be invoked if necessary by offering constructive feedback about their children. If parents are involved, try to insist the problem isn’t insurmountable and will just require a small amount of modifying behaviour. If you make an enemy of the parents it can make a teacher’s job doubly difficult. 


Regularly Interview Students or Hold One-to -one Councils: Students behaviour can dramatically change when their classmates are not present. Having one-to-one sessions can alter the dynamic of your relationship and get to the root of core problems.


Ask Experienced Teachers for Help and Suggestions. Don't be afraid to ask those more experienced than you for guidance. Every teacher will need to heed some advice. You cannot replicate the exact teaching style and lesson content of another teacher but you can take useful parts out of their lessons and introduce them into yours. Many longterm teachers have an array of useful tricks to help control a classroom. One of our teachers constantly ensures his whiteboard is clean and shiny throughout the lesson… the reason being: he can see the reflection of the class in the board and highlight any disruptive behaviour when his back is turned. The students believe he has superpowers and they’ve never figured out how he knows!!

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