ESL Classroom Management

If you are an ESL teacher who is having problems with classroom management, there are ways of taking back control and maintain order in your classroom again. There are methods to deal with a few troublemakers and approaches to dealing with an entire class which is out of control. First you need to assess why you’re having ESL classroom management issues. (click here to know more about ESL)

Let’s take a look at why children might be misbehaving. Are the children bored? Are they tired of sitting in their desks? Do some of the children have behavioral issues such as ADD or ADHD? Some children might find learning English difficult so they end up misbehaving rather than admitting they do not understand. Perhaps they have not been praised enough and feel the teacher doesn’t like them.

The most effective way to regain control of the ESL classroom is to be the boss. If you don’t step up and take control the children most certainly will. There’s a fine line between being friendly and kind and letting the children take control of the classroom. You really can be both the friendly helping hand and the boss. Ideally, you must take control of the class from the very first day you enter it. Unfortunately, many newly certified teachers don’t realize this right away and are shocked that they’ve lost control of the group.

Ultimately, you must find your own personal style in teaching but there are many proven techniques and strategies for good classroom management. Of course, you must comply with the rules of the school you work for. Your school should always be your ally and not your foe.

The first key to ESL classroom management is your attitude toward the students. Students who respect and love their teacher will be more apt to behave in the classroom. Here’s how to make that happen!

 Are you trying to be hip and cool?

esl classroom management

Do you want to be friends with your students? If you try to be the hip teacher who is a friend to all, more than likely the students will laugh at your expense the moment you are out of the earshot. Be their mentor. Teach by example not only how to speak English but how to behave in general.

In class behave as a role-model for ideal classroom behavior. The children will at least have the example to follow. If you cannot control your temper, why should they? If you find yourself barking at your pupils something is wrong!

Are you predictable?

I’ll never forget Miss Bain. Oh a truly terrifying woman with spectacles and a cardigan who dished out detentions for real and whose name one only mentioned with dread. I only had her in the sixth form but her reputation proceeded her. In fact she was a nice old lady! She never raised her voice, she wasn’t even bossy! I could not believe it actually. She just EXUDED the fact that we were there to learn and messing about was not tolerated. Full stop. Really an outstandingly simple formula.

Earn trust by being fair, consistent and firm. Establish rules from the very first day and do not bend. Lean more toward being overly strict in the beginning as it is harder to become strict if you’ve started out being lenient. If rules change on a day to day basis the students don’t know what to expect and cannot trust you.

Are you trustworthy?

esl classroom management

Oh yes there are teachers out there who lash out at pupils and put them down in a futile effort to feel important. When people put others down they are trying to elevate their own self-esteem. This systematically backfires as putting others down truly undermines ones sense of self-worth, though some people have such low self-esteem that a bit more self-degradation hardly notices!

Thirty one years ago an English teacher in France put me down in front of his class and I can still see and hear the scene today – that is how much it marked me at the time. He was scared of the fact that he had a native speaker in his class and was too stupid to use me to enhance the class.

Another important point is not to belittle your students. Avoid losing control and yelling. Never call a student names, put them down, use sarcasm or embarrass them. They will never trust this kind of behavior. In addition in the worst case scenario you could put them off wanting to learn ANY subject, and not just your subject.

Show them you care

Take the time to ask questions about their lives. If you can talk with them, informally, outside of the classroom, such as walking from one class to another, you’ll find an opportunity to get to know them. Your students will feel special if you take the time out to find out about them and who they are. It will be much harder for someone you’ve had a conversation with, on a personal level, to act up in the classroom.

Eye contact will help let your students know you are paying attention to them. Think about how they may be feeling. They might not want to take this call but have to. Put yourself in their shoes and try to come up with positive ways to see your students. (Read more about the Benefits of Teaching English Abroad in 21st Century)

By using these tips, you’ll keep order in your room, your students will respect and trust you, you’ll have an impact on their self-esteem and you’ll teach them much more than just how to speak English.

esl classroom management

If you are an ESL teacher who is having problems with classroom management, there are ways of taking back control and maintain order in your classroom again.


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