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The essential components to achieving discipline in a classroom As opposed to teaching adults, the
As opposed to teaching adults, the added component of dealing with discipline issues when teaching young learners must be addressed. Young learners tend to misbehave for various reasons. To begin with, they are more active, have shorter attention spans and often are learning the English language as a request of their parents. Unlike young learners, adults recognize that learning English provides a key to a host of opportunities: to enter and graduate from a university, to go abroad for further education, to seek desirable jobs and to be eligible for promotion to higher rank (Hu, 2002 describing in Hong Qin Zhao and Morgan’s article). Along with not understanding the importance of learning English, when other components such as a boring, unchallenging or too complicated and chaotic lesson are added into the mix, a teacher runs the risk of competing with that young learner’s attention. To maintain order and to make sure that lesson goals are being met a teacher must assure that key factors are addressed. Key factors to a successful classroom when working with young learners that can help in minimizing behaviors include having an effective physical arrangement, a predictable daily routine, a detailed lesson plan and lots of opportunity for active learning. When things are placed in a disorderly manner in a classroom, congestion and chaos is the ultimate result. The day is spent looking for things, rather than learning new things. Time lost searching gives young learners plenty of time to get into trouble, which could be avoided if things were better, organized. A predictable daily routine is valuable because as previously discussed young learners tend to have short attention spans. Having a predictable routine keeps young learners on their toes and gives them the opportunity to be in control of what will happen next. As a result, discipline problems may diminish as uncertainty is diminished. A detailed lesson plan can also help as it allows teachers to structure their day and help with the flow of the class. When a lesson plan is in order, the teacher can prepare ahead of time and minimize some downtime that young learners often take advantage of to misbehave. Young learners must always be kept entertained. The teacher can assure this by providing lots of fun activities, giving young learners lots of opportunities to manipulate, move and touch things. As Hong Qin Zhao and Morgan point out, a teacher needs to be aware of children’s learning strategies and have appropriate techniques for conducting classroom-learning activities. Once these core issues are addressed within a classroom, a teacher has more ammunition to deal with behaviors. One important factor in disciplining young learners is to let them know what is expected of them. If children are not told how to behave, how are they to know what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behavior. Positive reinforcement can also work wonders with young learners. Because children love attention, want to be recognized, and deeply want to please adults; when a teacher recognizes positive behavior, negative behavior slowly begins to disappear. Techniques such as name-calling, yelling, insulting students, using physical force produce no successful results and tend to backfire. Consistency is also important when dealing with behaviors and as Bosh points out children learn appropriate behavior easier when learning conditions remain constant. Set a good example and praise children when they are behaving accordingly. Make teaching a fun experience for both you and your students and behavior problems are sure to diminish. References: Bosh, K. (2003) Why Children Misbehave, NebFact: University of Nebraska (On-Line) http://extension.unl.edu/publicationsAlexiou, T. (2001) Foreign Language Aptitude in Young Learners, CALS Network Conference (On-Line) http://www.swan.ac.uk/cals/calsres/events/02_contents/02_Alexiou.htm Hong Qin Zhao, A. and Morgan, C. (2004) Consideration of Age in L2 Attainment- Children, Adolescents and Adults, The Asian EFL Journal (On-Line) http://www.asian-efl-journal.com/december_04_ahqz_cm.php (On-Line) 11 Techniques for Better Classroom Discipline, http://www.honorlevel.com/x47.xml