Classroom Management Tips

Some Classroom Management tips

These tips may not be new to you, but I always find them useful to refresh my memory.   I never like to think every lesson will be amazing.   If only that was the case, unfortunately there are too many different factors which can change an amazing plan into a complete flop.

I haven’t been in this game very long, but I have had enough experience to know when my classes have worked well and the reasons why they went to plan.

Luckily our position as ESL teachers is not to punish or yell at our students. Our focus is to motivate and encourage our students to want to speak English. All we have to worry about is making our English classes a fun and engaging learning environment.

I believe the essence of a great class all comes down to effective classroom management.

Keep your classes filled with a balance and good variety of activities.  Know your focus.  Be aware of what you want to achieve from each lesson.

Always be prepared.

Watch Your Language

Working with ESL learners, we should be very careful of the type of language we use.    It’s very easy to get frustrated when the kids aren’t understanding you.   However, this is often because we are using language that is too difficult for them.

Speak naturally, but speak in clear easy English.  When I started working in Japan, I would right down exactly what I was going to say in class.  This stopped me from saying too much then having to repeat myself a million times and wasting valuable time in the lesson.   If there is a word the students may not know, which is important for the understanding of the directions, I usually stop where I am and say, “what is (?) in Japanese?” then turn to the Japanese teacher and say, “is that right?” (also a great way to pick up some of the language) I also use gestures where ever possible.

Positive Rewards

I’m a big supporter of using positive reinforcement in the classroom and am always on the look out for new fresh techniques to entice my students to participate as much as possible in the classroom.  At present I have issued all of my students a sticker collecting score sheet, which you can find here.   At the end of term I hand out lottery tickets to all student, but the students with the most stickers get two lottery tickets each.

If I can, I’ll have small cultural gifts sent from Scotland for the lottery or I’ll make bookmarks, key chains or certificates taking images from http://www.deviantart.com and signing them (the students LOVE your signature).  The best, most inexpensive and invaluable gift you can give them.

Time Management

Time management was always my down fall when I first started out as an ESL teacher.  I had either planned too little or too much, or spent too much time on an individual activity, or worried too much about explaining activities instead of using as many demonstrations as required for successful understanding.

Proper time management is most definitely something teachers need to beaware of.  I don’t think that over planning is such a bad thing, but make sure that when you enter the class room you have around 3 activities you will definitely use, then if you have some time left once you have worked through your plan, use one of the shorter easier to explain activities you have tucked under your belt.

On the other hand if you have planned too little, finishing all of your plan within the first 30 minutes, then you have a problem.  Learn some filler exercises you can use quickly or always carry back up games when you think you don’t have enough.

Effective time management is essential to a perfectly smooth lesson.

Wild Ones

Most definitely in your time as an ESL teacher, you will experience a class of disruptive students.   There are some very useful techniques you can use to help you, so try not let this scare you.

  • Stay positive
  • Don’t raise your voice.  Your negative stressed energy will rub off on your students, making them worse.
  • Change the dynamic of the class, move onto a calmer activity changing the groups.
  • Take a time out, stop your activity and have all students close their eyes and put their heads on the desk for 1 minute.  Everyone including you should stay still for this period of time. When the class has settled start the class again.
  • If you know your kids are lively before entering the class, start of the class doing vigorous exercises.  For Example; tell them to jump 5 times then run as fast as they can on the spot then star jump 20 times(great for reviewing numbers and verbs) etc… This tires them out nicely, just in time for you to get on with your lesson for the day.
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