I’m delighted to have the opportunity to write an article regarding tips on classroom management for this blog. It’s often still a huge problem even for experienced teachers to deal with the question of discipline in the classroom, and I can imagine how shocked the first or second year teachers might be, when their lesson turns into a real mess and they are just unable to be the boss in their classroom when teaching young children or teens who do not care what their teacher’s plan is. In my article I am going to give you some tips on how to be the boss in your classroom and how to deal with students whose behaviour might cause real trouble for their peers and their teacher.

This is a list of the most popular discipline problems in class:

  • Your students are overtired (They are coming to extra classes at a language centre or club after compulsory education.)
  • They are not interested or are unmotivated to study a foreign language.
  • Students who don’t have study skills; for instance, they don’t know how to use a notebook or SB or things like that.
  • Provocative behaviour in class.
  • Problems getting students to focus and concentrate.
  • Students need some entertainment but you must prepare them for exams.
  • Impolite, rude students whose misbehaviour could originate from their families and background.
  • Students are overloaded with homework and other activities.

A group of happy smiling students learning English showing good classroom management

To start with, let me remember Marva Collins’s words:

“l Don’t try to fix the students, fix ourselves first

The good teacher makes the poor student good and the good student superior. When our students fail, we, as teachers, too have failed.” Do you share the opinion that when we fail with our lesson goals, we feel absolutely frustrated?  Moreover, we blame ourselves for our disability to organise the learning process during the lesson properly.

I want to warn you, that it might take you longer than one year to deal with some behaviour problems. Take it easy, don’t blame yourself. Try to understand what might be the real problem behind the misbehaviour in the class, and start solving it step by step.

For example, I had a student whose attitude towards everything was terrible. He was always late for class; he didn’t bring his second pair of shoes or do his homework. When he came in he threw his backpack so violently on the desk, it made his classmates feel shocked and absolutely embarrassed. And guess what? I tried to do my best to like him. The situation was that his mum was busy with the baby, while his dad wanted to get a divorce; my student just needed a lot of attention because he felt very lonely. I started to thank him for everything, e.g. not being late, doing half of his homework. I behaved in a way that showed I cared about him like his mum. Now he is much better and he is never late, he is ready with his homework and he is interested in studying English, since he wants to visit his aunt in the USA. But he’s still not a perfect teenager, being obsessed with playing computer games and eating junk food.

A troubled student needs to be shown care and support if you want good classroom management

The words of Brenda Ueland will prove my ideas:

“The only good teachers for you are those friends who love you, who think you are interesting, or very important, or wonderfully funny.“

Become friends with your students! Thank them for everything! It is called a positive framing in teaching terminology. The desire to be successful and a positive thinking motivate us far more than the desire to avoid a punishment. Do you agree? It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t react to negative behavior; of course you should! But never punish the students in front of the class. Find the time to talk with your trouble makers after or before the lesson. The classroom is not the place you may punish or discuss misbehavior; during  the lesson you need to work hard to achieve your session’s  goals. Be precise when you ask students to do something. Give clear instructions, use appropriate language. Don’t ask them if they want to be in this or that team. Just say, for example: “David, you are in team 1”, and thank him for taking part in team 1, even though he is grumpy and angry at you for some time. If you teach very young children, you should definitely use language 1.

two students sat at a desk. One boy is studying while the other plays.

I have a group in which most of students are leaders. You know that having leaders in the class could be positive; students who always try to do their best. However, with the negative ones who always try to attract attention and manage to turn a lesson into a nightmare, you sometimes just forget who is the real boss in the class. What did I do in this situation? I challenged them all the time. Some students always want to look better than others. I make them prove that they are the best and creative in a competitive atmosphere. And it works! Now they are competing all the time, the pace of the lesson is so fast, that I always prepare tasks for fast finishers; even though I could not hear myself speak in the first lesson. I have always motivated them with the words like: “You are real explorers! I am so proud of you, guys. “Always stimulate a positive mood in the classroom and praise your students a lot. I have a set of different stickers for each topic and I try to praise each student personally if they follow my instructions and are always active in class. For me as a teacher the most important thing is that my students work as one team, as one body. It is a very important that you create a teamwork mood; your class is special in all aspects. Your class has got special rules, don’t forget to introduce them at the very beginning, as if you do it at the end of the school year, it might be too late. You can vary different rules according to students’ ages and interests. Let them feel that each one of them is special. We are one team whose name is Happy Unicorn, for instance. Think of a motto for each group. Make a poster. Create chat rooms on social media networks, where you can text homework for sick students, upload some group photos and download some graded readers. Sign a group contract.

Three children sitting in school and focusing, demonstrating good classroom management

Here are some rules you may use in class:

For good classroom management never be late. Always smile and feel positive. Respect everyone in class. Be active. Be ready with your homework. Work creatively during the lesson. Let students forget about their family problems, school unlucky moments. Think of new nicknames for your students, their favourite showmen, sportsmen, actors or singers. Let them feel special in class, involved, inspired by your care and love. Some final tips for you, my adorable colleagues:

  1. Love your student. Become his or her friend.
  2. Praise your student by all means.
  3. If you have difficulties, don’t hesitate to use your colleagues’ or your school’s psychologist’s advice. It might not be your competence.
  4. Never discuss your student’s misbehaviour problems in front of all the class. Talk to your student face to face. Discuss the problematic situation before or after class. Look in his eyes, talk softly and understandingly without accusing or blaming. Try to understand the motives he’s behaved in a wrong way.
  5. Challenge your students, because they love that. Create a competitive environment, assess fairly.
  6. Be sequential in your punishments. “You don’t get a sticker today, because you haven’t accomplished your home”, for example.
  7. Do not forget about entertainment time, but after main tasks have been fulfilled.
  8. Use sense of humour. It works great with teens and kids as well.
  9. Try to create a team from the very beginning with their traditions, posters, jokes and rules.
  10. Do not keep your offence inside.
  11. Do not wait for immediate results. You might need some time to analyse a situation, talk to your student’s family members.

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is very necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child. These words were said by Carl Jung. I hope these nice pieces of advice help you a lot and you come home after your exhausting working day with the feeling of satisfaction, delight and inspiration rather than with a feeling of waiting for the next nightmare. If you like the article, please leave your comments and likes. Let’s make our work more fascinating by sharing our work experience and useful tips for classroom management, and you will undoubtedly live your ‘work’ to the full.

Ekaterina Shestakova

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