LTL DISCUSSION: Six of the Best

Top Tips for Classroom Management


I was going to rank these six tips in ascending order, but maybe my classroom management style is different from yours. Which of these top tips would be in your top three, and which would be in your bottom three?

TOOL UP: Make sure your students have the equipment they need in order to participate in the lesson.

Keep a small collection of pens and pencils for students who come to class without anything to write with. If you use a text book, have a photocopy or two of the pages you wish to cover so students who didn’t bring their books can also join in. Students with nothing to do will want to talk with their friends, so make sure that even the unprepared students have the tools they need to join in and do the job.

DO AWAY WITH DOWN TIME: Question: What happens while the teacher is writing on the board? Answer: Nothing.

If you have a spelling list, or a chart or table to share with your students, don’t waste classroom time by copying it onto the board. Prepare a PowerPoint or photocopied handout instead. Computers, screens and projectors should be connected and checked well before they are needed in class. Don’t make more downtime by handing out any worksheets, marked homework or vocabulary lists yourself; allocate these kind of tasks to the students

MAKE AN EARLY START (AND KEEP AT IT): Spend some time early on setting classroom standards in order to make more time for learning later on.

Be clear from the start about what kind of behaviour is most appropriate for learning. First impressions are very important and bad habits are hard to shake, so start off by making sure that everyone knows how to behave. When everyone knows the rules for classroom management, it is much easier for the teacher to stop inappropriate behaviour by using a reminder rather than an explanation.

FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE: Classroom management is about managing learning; focus on what the students should be doing in order to learn, not what they shouldn’t be doing – because that list is endless!

Rather than tell ESL/EFL students that they must NOT speak their first language, make a classroom rule that says ‘say it in English’, or ‘try to say it in English first’. If you have a performance chart to reinforce classroom rules, make sure you record the positive behaviour. A hall of fame is better than a hall of shame.

LEARNING IS ITS OWN REWARD: Your students are there to learn English, not to win prizes. Besides, there’s no greater prize than proficiency in another language.

Don’t shower your students with sweeties and prizes if they win the bingo or get ten out of ten on their spelling test. A pat on the back, and maybe a comment on how their good work has paid off is not just an acknowledgement of a job well done, it also motivates students to keep up the good work. Recognise good learning behaviour with rewards like being allowed to choose the next day’s reading (or story).

KEEPING BUSY: Don’t make the activities or worksheets too long, but have several shorter activities to cover the same material. Keep everyone busy with different tasks.

Spend time using different combinations of the four skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening). Students who don’t like one or other kind of activity won’t have to wait long for a style of learning that they do like. As well as keeping students learning through a variety of learning skills and styles, there should also be a frequent change of pace. Warm-ups and more active tasks need to be interspersed with quieter and more studious ones as well.

What is your best tip or trick for classroom management?

How about Six of the worst?

Click here to read about classic classroom management fails!


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