Classroom Management Being an EFL teacher can bring numerous
Being an EFL teacher can bring numerous rewards and happiness, but even the most experienced EFL teacher runs into challenges in the classroom from time to time, especially when teaching young learners. Challenges may range from wondering how to organize the seating of your students in the classroom to having a student that is disruptive. There are many challenges that TEFL teachers face, and unfortunately many are not given the resources/ideas or training that is beneficial and essential in maintaining a productive and homeostatic classroom. This is an essay about some of these challenges, and of course some ideas for classroom management.
Classroom management can be challenging for anyone, but especially for the new teacher who has little experience in this area. It is not only important to manage the student behavior in the classroom, but the physical learning environment as well (Dauber, 2006). It is an ongoing concern for all teachers; therefore it is in the teacher´s and student´s best interest if the teacher has the tools and knowledge to manage the class. In Karen Zauber's article on classroom management, she mentions four areas or helpful hints to focus on. Her first suggestion is to "establish classroom climate". What she is talking about here is the look and feel of your room. There are a series of questions you (as the teacher) should ask yourself. How much noise do you desire in the classroom' Would you rather have a quiet, peaceful class or a noisy energetic class' Would you prefer a balance of both depending on the activity' As a teacher, do you require neatness in the classroom, like orderly rows and little clutter-or can you stand it messy' Would you prefer you students turn in their work directly to you, or do you have a special place (like a basket)' By telling your students how you feel about the "classroom climate", and how everyone can participate in maintaining a pleasant atmosphere, this will greatly reduce disciplinary problems in the classroom (Zauber, 2006).
Another helpful hint from Zauber is to conduct the class efficiently, by managing time and your students. If a teacher is successful with this, the students will better be able to focus on their work and again, will reduce disciplinary problems. Some suggestions for effectively conducting your class are: quickly learning and using the students' names, setting long term goals and keeping them in mind while lesson planning, gaining the students attention before moving on to a new activity (not just talking over the students loudly), giving direct and brief directions, and always being consistent in what you say and do. Trying to reach ALL students in the classroom is also a helpful hint in classroom management. The teacher should vary their delivery to keep students awake and interested in the lessons. He or she should also always encourage all students to do their best and show them that you (the teacher) believe that they can succeed. Interacting with all of your students and not just your favorites, and trying always to be positive will also encourage them. The final piece of advice that Zauber shares is on establishing discipline. Many disciplinary problems will be eliminated when the teacher establishes an atmosphere of consistency and mutual respect. Following through with what you say and do is very important. Also, finding an effective way to quiet your students-like dimming the lights or playing classical music is effective. Lastly, when a child is behaving inappropriately, the teacher should never reprimand the child in front of the class, but talk to them individually after class (Zauber, 2006).
Antonio Gomez, Ph.D., also had a few suggestions for the EFL teacher faced with challenges in the classroom. In his recent article entitled "On their best behavior", he shares some preventative measures. The first is giving praise to your students. Gomez states that many teachers are mainly addressing their students to calm them down, correct a mistake, or addressing the "not so positive" behaviors. He adds that teachers get caught up in this routine and forget to tell their students when they are doing something right or well. Positive reinforcements enhance the learning situation and environment. According to Gomez, praise will help in developing students' participation, motivation, and positive behavior. Aside from praise, Gomez describes giving symbolic rewards in the classroom as being one of the most effective techniques in preventing discipline problems. The rewards must be changed once in a while or the students may get bored or unmotivated (because they will always know what to expect), leading to this idea becoming ineffective. An example of a reward would be the student having their picture or work hung on the wall in the classroom or in the hallway for all to see, or gaining a special privilege on a certain day (Gomez, 2006).
In another article on classroom management, Margot McCamley gives some advice on identifying and managing problem behaviors in the classroom. One of the most important questions to remember as an EFL teacher is "Are the students really understanding me', or are they missing most of what I am saying (because of the language barrier)' Very often students do not understand what is being taught to them and find no purpose in what it is the teacher is trying to say. McCanley adds this interesting statistic: 75% of bad behavior is accredited to academic failure, meaning that they have missed vital clues in the learning process (McCamley, 2006). Teachers should be aware of this and make sure that the students are having fun, and understand the content. McCamley also points out the importance of knowing what type of trouble maker the child is. For example, a teacher´s approach or strategy with an "attention seeker" would differ from that of a "power seeker", or a child that appears withdrawn or depressed. Lastly, a few tips for teachers from McCamley's personal experience. She shared that she usually sits her children with the most behavioral issues in the front of the class so that she can keep a close eye on them, and give them appropriate eye contact when necessary. She also believes in encouraging even "your worst" student, giving them compliments like "well done", or "good work!", even when it is in front of other students. This will motivate the group as well as the individual student. McCamley also advises never to allow the students to "yell out" answers to the teacher. The class can quickly become noisy and disruptive when the students who know the answers are calling them out at once. Students should learn the discipline of raising their hands when they wish to give a response. This makes for a productive classroom and students feel good when they are chosen to give an answer (McCamley, 2006).
These are just a few professionals (of many online and elsewhere) that shared their advice and views on classroom management. I found that all of the articles contained helpful suggestions for EFL teachers who are facing these challenges everyday, and for those or us who are about to begin TEFL. It is very fortunate that there is a large amount of information on this topic, because these are issues that teachers face on a day to day basis. My hope is that these teachers have access and are taking advantage of the helpful hints and strategies that are available for our use.
McCamley, Margot. Classroom management: classroom discipline. 2006. www.onestopenglish.com/section.asp'catid=59438&docid=146446
Gomez, Antonio Garcia, Ph.D. On their best behavior. ESL Magazine. 2006. www.eslmag.com/modules.php'name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=44
Zauber, Karen. Management Tips for New Teachers: Bringing Order to the Classroom. NEA: National Education Association. 2006. www.nea.org/classmanagement/begtk030731.html
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