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Controlling the class

October 14, 2008

Hello again,

Some classroom problems are always with us. In fact they are so predictable it is easy to just forget about them and carry on regardless. But really...

...the conscientious teacher wants to assert proper control. One perennial problem is the student who always tries to answer first whenever a question is asked. Left unchecked, this student will dominate and actually make the others in the group give up even trying to answer a question. There are a couple of things you can do to put a stop to this. First you can simply address your questions to specific people. The main drawback of this is that it puts people on the spot and they may fee humiliated if they can’t answer. But certainly it’s worth a try. To diffuse the intensity you could have students work in groups and ask each group a question. Even if the smart Alec answers for his or her group, at least the other groups will get their chance and, you can change the composition of the groups regularly.

Then there are always students who are especially lacking in confidence and clearly feel at a disadvantage in comparison with the other students. One way to help these learners is to organise group work in which everybody needs to contribute something before the group task can be completed. This gives the timid student a specific role to play and each new successful step in helping with the group task is a boost to their self-esteem.

Every group has one or two students at the back of the class who just don’t pay attention.
I think the answer to this is to take control of the seating so that they never have the chance to choose where to go. Putting them near the front means it will be easier to keep an eye on them and you can fire the occasional surprise question just to keep them on their toes.

Persistent latecomers are very disruptive. If you can’t get them to mend their ways, then try having a ten-minute warm-up activity at the beginning of the lesson. This means that you can start the main part of the lesson when everyone is there.

Students who come to class without their books, pens and notebooks are another bane of the classroom. Have a pot of extra pens on the desk and loose sheets of paper and, if possible, some spare course books you can lend them.

If these problems don’t clear up, then try having a class discussion about how to behave and let the students set their own rules.

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  1. rafael brayan Says:

    currently, i am teaching esl in the dominican republic. i enjoy my work because i like working with people. however, i must admit that its not an easy task. especially when my student are enrolled in a spanish speaking high school. my rule is no spanish in class. but its difficult not to when all their other classes are in spanish. any input would be greatly appreciated

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