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I get emails from time to time, from distraught / stressed out teachers who just are not able to cope with a class or all their classes. Many times, it is because of things beyond their control and means. Many times though, they got off on the wrong foot and didn't set their classroom up for success.

From our quibblo survey (look left on the main page), it appears that Classroom management is THE problem for many teachers. We all have this to deal with, in the classroom and it begs us all to take a look at it and learn from others.
What tips do you have to offer and what has worked in your own classroom?

Below is an example of one such conversation I had recently. Might offer some tips for others and it came after some discussion about "discipline" and some people who'd offered the advice of "come down hard, hit 'em" - to which I reacted strongly..... I've also attached my 10 top tips handout that I refer to often....Also go here for a nice quiz about finding out your own classroom management style.


1. Is there a properly introduced signalling/attention getting device?
2. Are class rules posted and have they been discussed and agreed to by all parties?
3. As another said, is there consistency with the coteacher?
4. Are punishments learning oriented, so that there is a connection between the misbehaviour and the learning process?
5. Has the classroom environment been altered with an effort towards better classroom management?
6. Do troublesome/off task students have duties and responsibilities in the class, so they feel part of the class?
7. Do students get the chance to personalize their learning and feel like a learning community? (work on the wall, study groups, extra curricular activities, portfolios)
8. Is there tracking of misbehaviour so that students can be confronted with facts, factual data and not just "I say, you say?"....
9. Have the school admin. been approached or atleast the head grade teacher? Have students been actually "talked to" and not "berated".


Just to answer your questions:
1. There is a bell in every classroom that you hit to get the students attention but they are desensitized to it and it doesn't work. I introduced something else: I say "Attention!" and they are supposed to clap twice and then put their finger over their mouths but only 2-10 students do it each time...even if i say it 3 times there are still students that just sit there and do nothing and I even give students stickers if they are the only ones who do it.

2. I discussed in my last post how the introductions of the rules went....and it's not my classroom so I can't post them.

3. There's definitely not consistency with the co-t

4. How can punishments be learning oriented? I don't understand that.

5. I can't alter the classroom since it's not mine.

6. What duties and responsibilites could I give to off-task/troublesome students?

7. I think these kids have a ways to go before they can be a learning community lol. How can I do that anyway? How can they personalize their learning?

8. What do you mean by tracking of misbehavior? Making a chart? I give the kids stickers if they are good, once they get 15 they can get a prize. But they don't seem too thrilled by the prizes- they're pretty ungrateful even though I'm spending my hard earned money to buy 400 kids prizes lol so i don't think i'm doing it next semester. my co-t had something in place when i got here. the kids have 3 hearts at the beginning. if they are bad she erases half of one or more, if they have any left they get a certain # of stars. if they get 12 stars they get a snack and movie day. i wanted to do that and my stickers-prizes set-up but she didn't want to. so we did stickers-prizes this sem. and we'll do the hearts-stars next sem.

9. I'm sure none of the head teachers or admin. have been approached about the problem. Once or twice I tried talking to the students but my co-t wouldn't translate for me!!!! she's definitely not helping the problem!

Finally getting the time to respond. I sympathize with your situation and I don't think any teacher should be roaming around the school and jumping into so many environments. As I mentioned in the previous post, this will change in SMOE, as much as central office can control/enforce it. But you should talk to admin and voice that it just isn't working and something has to be done.

1. You have to go right to the end, with the signalling device. It is most important to the classroom. If they aren't listening a) try to make a game out of it. Who will freeze the fastest? Always when signalling ring twice. Once to hold the student's attention and the next time lightly to have them slowly relax and regroup. If the game doesn't work, try having a student captain hit the bell. Appoint one in charge. They will listen to the class leader. If still, you will just have to sit down and wait em out. No punishment, no screaming, no chairs and all that neandrathal stuff. Just sit down and say we will begin when you are ready. Wait them out and make sure to look/scan the group for compliance. Sometimes, you might try the clapping game for a signal. Some schools do better with it. Clap a set and they will repeat. Challenge them again. Keep doing it until all are repeating. Also for signalling make sure you start the tone of your voice after the signal, calmly, slowly. This creates a quieter, more learning conducive dynamic.

2. Class rules. Can you suggest to each teacher, that they post the rules, even in Korean, in the class????

3. Yes, sorry about that problem with the coteacher and this is yet another problem in the coteaching dynamic that is unfortunately not resolvable yet. Coteachers should chose themselves but the reality is that they are thrown together and then have to "make do". Bad idea but that is what is.... that is where having your own English classroom is of benefit, besides also the fact you'd have it decorated and have so much extra language reinforcement.

4. Icnelly was on the right track. Punishments must make the connection to the crime. Otherwise the only thing learnt is not, "I did something wrong regarding learning / our class" but "She hates me, she has power, I don't. I will try in any small way to show I have some." What it means is that when students are not on task (in an overt way, of course students will get tired, have an off day etc...) or bothering the learning of others -- they are punished by having to A) summarize what they did wrong and make ammends [apologize, clean the floor, write a note, do supplemental work [not rote lines, this isn't learning] and undertake more class chores etc..... B) they are set aside in a time out area (in class, away from others) where they can occupy themselves with a set task. Believe me, I have tried this and it works in Korea. Korean kids don't like to be set apart from the group. This won't work back home but here it does....

5. Yes, too bad. So much can be done with regrouping/rearranging the classroom. Is there any way you can find out who the group leaders are, give them responsibility for control of some sort? Any way to maybe get kids to sit in the front of the class for part of it, change things. Probably not but think outside the box....

6. Duties can include not just giving them cleaning, erasing the board, organizing papers, collecting papers, staying 5 min. to get the chairs in place, organizing the bins of supplies (glue, scissors) but also duties where they have responsibility. So many kids who are the real fireplugs that start so much, turn around when given responsibility and a task. Being the line monitor, calling the class to order, saying goodbye for the whole class (and thank you). Being in charge of getting supplies or the computer being turned on etc.....so many...I did this by having an arm band for each job, of a particular colour. Arm bands could be earned and transfered....

7. This is too long a topic for here. But they will get motivated if they can express themselves, even in English. As I mentioned to gladfly, to give yourself time to figure things out, get them making mini books. See my Mr. Xs amazing day in my teaching folder. They cut and paste the pics and colour and write to make a great mini book. Or they can do it by drawing My favourite things. Or boys, Things I hate....... This will keep them busy, give tasks and at this time of year, is the perfect thing when their mind is elsewhere.... http://www.esnips.com/doc/a3aad1a0-75f4-4335-b4ee-ea19d7faa896/acti... Usually this and the ppt in the same folder are for members of my community only but I just uploaded it here, so you don't have to join and can use...

8. yes, you need a tracking sheet. Candies and stickers are good but can quickly get out of hand and turn into something not related to behaviour....Also, you are doing too much work. Always be thinking in what ways, the students can be doing the work....meaning, let them track themselves, you just have the book and tell them to write their name and time....also, they should put the stickers on their own sheet/poster and also get their own candy. just nod and they should be trained what to do.... but you need a tracking sheet to show students that the repetitive problem of their behaviour. they understand numbers and you'll get more response from them, respect.

9. Try to talk to someone. There is a head teacher and he/she can do a lot. Just by informing all the coteachers. They should be your allie, (along with the tech guy!) and you need their support. Get a translator but you have to do this, to change things for the better. Explain it always not about the students behaviour but about "better teaching". Keep it positive. A white lie, yes but a necessary one.

I'll try and take some stuff off my old message board where I helped a lot of teachers with advice. Might be some more that might just strike a chord. As others have mentioned, many great books and online resources for reflection too. David Paul's is more for understanding the psychology but a real good read.....Jones is the guru of classroom management and writes in a real, informal and approachable style...

Hang in there, one day at a time..


Tags: classroom_management, control, discipline, first_class, introduction, new, new_year, rules, tips

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Hi DD,

Although frowned upon by Krashen (2004) and many others in the field of ESL or EFL, I feel as though extrinsic motivation does have a place in the classroom; especially in those where intrinsic motivators have failed.

Let's face it, life is one giant quid pro quo. No matter what you do, there is always something to balance it (ying and yang come to mind). Therefore, why should it be shunned? Agreed that it shouldn't be the only source of motivation, though there is nothing wrong with it being a component of success in disciplining the classroom. Allow me to share this brief anecdote:

As many experience upon first entering an EFL classroom in Korea, I found myself wondering how I was to get the attention of students whom didn't speak the language which I natively spoke. Ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about 6-8 year-old elementary school students! After countless hours of brainstorming, I came up with the Ralph Dollar System.

The Ralph Dollar System is built off of extrinisic movitations (i.e. do the work and behave and you get rewarded by receiving a Ralph dollar.) In this system, students must do their work and they must behave. 5 points are written on the board. Fail to do the work and/or fail to behave results in points lost. However, you can regain those points if you prove yourself, that is, behave for the rest of the class or show me that you are interested. If the students miss 1 point, in other words if they have 4 or less points, then they get no dollars.

I have been employing this method for almost 3 years now and it is yet to fail. Is it the best way to motivate the students? No. Does it work? Yes. Sometimes teachers must step out of the 'theoretical' mindset and into the 'reality' mindset. Everything in life, everything we do has a reason ergo why we push ourselves so hard to do what we do. Why should extrinisic motivators carry a pejorative connotation? We live in a real word and as a result need real solutions to real problems. This is a solution to a problem.

Now, some of you may think, "yes, but, learning should be done for the "sake" of learning." I agree, but, this takes time to instill in students, especially those that aren't fluent or mature in the language in which they are learning. Currently, I have been wanning my 6th grade students off of the Ralph dollars (I have been teaching them since they were in 4th grade). Ironically enough, they are still behaved and are still learning WITHOUT the dollars! It took time, but, it worked. The extrinisic motivator helped to facilitate the intrinsic motivation that currently drives them.

Works Cited
Krashen, S. (2004). The power of reading. Portsmouth, NH. Heinemann.

I agree! Too often these "heavy weights" get carried away in their eithe idealistic or practical or doctrinaire notions of what teaching is about. Teachers know what works! [as you said, real world with real problems!]

I say that respectfully and with great respect for Krashen and the attention he has placed upon the "affective" environment (the social part of education, the world kids live in, not just addressing the subject/content but the atmosphere in which students see English, believe English, learn English.).

I had a really difficult grade 4 class 2 years ago. In Canada. The kids just all beautiful rejects. Tried to make a community but really only made inroads when I put in place Mr. D's store. I sold goods, dollar store stuff. Each student could be rewarded and I had a system. They could spend the money they got, as they wished. I eventually got kids manning the store at lunch, recess. We had great talks about stealing (yes, several stole -- natural!) and responsibility (so many lost money at first, just weren't used to valuing it). Really brough us together around a common bond.

You are right, you need a little sugar in the sauce, as my grandma used to say (she said she learn this from an Italian neighbour.).

I think it is all about being consistent. I don't reject rewards outright nor the notion that we also are motivated by them (and for the good, not the eventual negative which many state). It is a bridge and you rightly mentioned about slowly allowing for withdrawl, as the students learn to just enjoy the learning. That is key and what makes teaching an art,,,,,,the how to do it. No one way but just a right way.

A last question. What do others think about managing student behaviour through self expression? I think a lot of student misbehaviour comes from their own frustration at not being allowed to self express - given their affective needs. .....

I've added a quiz to see what your classroom management profile / type is. It's on the main page, on the left. Take it at your leisure. Also see my Myers Briggs Type Indicators tests, easy to follow powerpoint. This test, really is revealing about your personality type and lends you a lot of insight into yourself and what kind of teacher you'd probably be.

See a more elaborate (and indicative) form of this quiz on my site, along with many other learning/teaching style... Also two good learning and teaching style quizzes here.

Enjoy and by the way, I'm a infp!

I've attached a couple ppts about Myers Briggs type indicators.
I'm just posting this for other new teachers who might find some helpful tips. My quick email reply to the questions of another teacher about classroom management.

Dear Mr. D,
I have 2 quick questions for you! First, how does the yellow card/red card thing work. I know that yellow is a warning. But WHEN would you give this (like if they don't follow a classroom procedure or when they don't follow a rule...) and HOW would you give this and so forth.

Also, from your experience what rules are good for the Korean classroom? What consequences are effective? I've been told that my homeroom teacher may not be in the classroom and so I should have good authority set up so the class doesn't fall apart when they leave the classroom!

Anyway, that's all. Thanks so much for your time!



Great question(s). I had a whole half hour scheduled for going over rules and having you in groups make a chart but didn't get to it. Priorities but wish I had.

Great question and I' ll post it on eflclassroom, this is the type of question for the community, so we can all give our advice and it is referrable. That said,

Yellow card and red card is your discretion. If the student needs the time out, card them.....But play it by ear. Just make sure you have a nice time out area. Korean students as I said, don't like to be out of the group. But no quick and fast rules, you will know your students. Just be firm at first after you go over the rules.

Rules should be stated positively. Bring the students to a common area, sit them down on a carpet / floor if possible. Talk about the rules, using Korean (the only time you should) and brainstorm. For both TEACHER and STUDENTS! 5 for each. The main ones for students should be 1. Respect others
2. Look, Learn Listen
3. Clean up your area
4. Raise your hands
5. speak English, try.

Always state the rules positively. If the students suggest, "Don't...." try to rephrase it into something positive.

That is a quick over view. They will come up with them. Teacher's ones can be creative like

1. Good work = reward
3. No homework
4. Games if work is done
5. pop songs each lesson etc....

There is a nice thread about this at eflclassroom, under classroom management. Search the forums. Make sure you have a very good signalling device, like my bell and you enforce it!

Cheers, hope this helps. Sorry Im writing in a hurry. I just started new courses and have been going all day!


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