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While teaching English abroad your inevitably going to encounter disruptive and shy students that will have you thinking twice about this profession you’ve entered. So, to help counter these behavioral problems, I’ve provided some useful techniques that'll help manage your classroom. Let's take a look:
But First ...
But first, let’s review some no-brainer techniques that you should already be aware of. You know, things that are standard practice for maintaining a positive, interactive and entertaining classroom environment that every ESL teacher wants in the first place:
A.Organization: Lesson Planning and implementation its process is the first step to maintaining order in the classroom. After all, confidence in your teaching strategy will lead to better flow in the classroom. Make sure it's clear, concise, and easy to follow.
B. Decorations: Keep your classroom decorated with posters, photos, charts, words, and bright colors. This will help keep your students positive, attentive, and engaged.
C. Classroom Rules: Keep a list of rules posted on the wall in your classroom so students are aware of what not to do.
D. Rewards: Rewards are a great way to help keep students motivated to learn and well-behaved. Everybody digs a treat for their hardwork.
E. Games: Games make learning fun and can help improve students’ memory of the content. Team building and collaborative games work best.
F. TPR: Total Response Actions. In laments terms, using gestures to represent words or grammar. This allows for a more fun and interactive learning experience, and that works best with kids.
G. Creative Learning: Everything from arts and crafts, using technology, memorizing proverbs and tongue twisters, to sharing your own knowledge and experiences, will help keeps students interested and using their minds.
And Now ...
Now that those are out of the way let's get to specific techniques you can use to control the behavior of your ESL students:
Timeout Chair: Setup a timeout chair on the side or back of the classroom. Let students know that if they act up, that's where they'll end up. And by the way, their kids, so don't leave them there the entire class!
The Walk Around: How about walking around the classroom instead of teaching in a stationary position. Put yourself right next to the troublemakers, too.
The Countdown: A classic technique everyone experiences when they’re young. You know, when your mom or dad tells you to do something, you refuse, and they give you a “5,4,3,2,1..” count or you'll feel the hard end of their leather belt. Your ESL students will understand this concept even if they’ve yet to learn their numbers in English.
Specific Actions: Try teaching your ESL students specific actions early on that equate to “Stop everything you’re doing, behave, sit-up straight, and listen up.”
The Stare Down: Dun, dun, DUN. Work on your “mean face.” You have one? It's that look that let’s students know they are misbehaving, you're pissed off, and you want them to immediately stop or they’ll be consequences. Remain calm, keep your composure, and just wait. Give them the ‘look.’ When you think it’s time to move on, wait a few more seconds, just to let it sink in and have a deadlier impact.
Joke Around: Sometimes joking around with students can help counter their disruptive behavior. Instead of being angry, try making a few gentle, non-verbally abusive jokes aimed at the bad students.
Call & Response Chants: Create a call-and-response chant that lets students know to sit-down, sit-up straight, place their hands on the table (or on their knees), stop talking, and focus. For example, the teacher says “1,2,3,” and students react by behaving and calling out “Hands on knees.” I've always like shouting "Attention!" and the students respond "1,2!."
Give Warnings: Threaten to punish the student before actually doing it, especially with younger kids. Put your hand next to stars or point to that timeout chair.
Take Away Individual or Team Rewards: Enough said. They're continuing to act up? Well, go ahead and take away those stars or points.
Better Rewards: But maybe stars or points just ain't cutting it. So, try bringing in some more enticing rewards, such as play money that could get them toys, or, give them opportunities to be classroom monitors, be the first in line, collect books, and so on.
Start High: At the beginning of class give each individual/team a set amount of stars or points. During the class, if the students misbehave, simply deduct the points.
Put student’s name in a “Naughty” box: This box can represent everything from being unable to participate in games, or receiving a phone call at home.
Don’t let student participate in games: That's right, make em' jealous of all the fun action the other students are having. They'll cave eventually.
Game Over, Start Over: Let's say you’re actively playing a game and your students just keep being disruptive. Know what you can do? Cancel the game immediately, and once they're quite and attentive, have them start again.
Ignore the student: This one's risky. We all know that some students thrive off the attention they receive when disrupting the class. You can counter by rewarding good students and allowing them to play games. Don't even show him/her you're bothered. Eventually the student may recognize that his/her behavior is the reason they are missing out on all the fun, and they'll seek to adjust.
Rearrange students’ seats: A classic way to separate naughty students.
Punish, then Return: Punish the student by taking away their rewards. When the student starts behaving well, give him/her the opportunity to participate and earn rewards again.
Detention: If possible, have your naughty students stay after class for a designated time as punishment. Detention's not common in every part of the world, so make sure to check with your local teachers or administration if it is ok to do so. OR, how about sending that student to the class of a teacher that students are scared of?
Speak with Teachers: Discuss the student’s behavior with the local teacher(s) at your company. They can offer their own knowledge, expertise or resources to deal with the situation.
Keep an assistant teacher in the class. Let them stand or sit next to the naughty student in question.
Write Comments: Some schools may have a form or booklet that is used to notify parents of their child’s progress throughout the semester. If possible, have a local teacher translate some comments you have regarding a student’s behavior.
Speak directly with Parents: If all else fails, speak to the parents. If the parent cannot speak English, have a local teacher assist you. I suggests that you 1. Acknowledge the student’s behavior/actions, and the steps you took to discipline them, 2. Reassure the student & parent of his/her positive attributes & characteristics, and hopefulness in the future, 3. Inform the parent & students of the steps you’ll take in the future, 4. Have the student agree to the terms, 5. End with positive reinforcement.
Jamie Foxx: I once read that Jamie Foxx, a famous American comedian, actor, and singer, began telling jokes as soon as elementary school. And although a bit naughty, he was so good at it that his teacher would allow him to tell jokes at the end of class as a reward only if all students behaving well. With that in mind, try to figure out your students. Create advantages from disadvantages. Make the best out of your worst situations.
Who knows, maybe you’ll help to make the next Jamie Foxx!
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