The Current Phase:
It is not so much what to teach that concerns teachers but
how to manage a class that worries them. In this phase we
have tried to illustrate ways and means to manage a class
better. However teacher training is a life long process
and each teacher develops his\ her techniques to deal with
4 - Classroom Management
and answer the question: “what is classroom management”
Is it having control in class? Is it organizing material?
Is it planning course content? Is it time management?
Is it meeting expectations? Is it maintaining discipline?
Is it organizing the room setting? Is it dealing with
mixed abilities? Classroom management (CM) is all of these
and a lot more. It is difficult to define CM in the way
one would define biology or chemistry because it deals
with the dynamics of interacting with human beings, each
as different from the other as they come. Sometimes CM
seems to be more difficult than Business management.
management means “people management” while
teaching, or, in other words, how to direct the students
to do what you want them to do. There is a clear relationship
between the content and process of the lesson, and the
management of the class. Overall, well-planned lessons
that meet the needs, interests and pace of the students
work the best in terms of getting the students to do what
you want them to do. This should include anticipation,
even expectation, that students may diverge from the teacher?s
lesson plan in directions that might be followed, as well
as, potential diversions to be avoided. A lesson that
engages the students in activities that interest and challenge
them seldom presents the problems that require us to resort
to „`extraordinary' management methods.
that in mind and recognizing that it is not a `perfect
world,´ classroom management also must consider
the spectrum of tolerable behavior based on the:
Teacher´s patience with disorder
Requirements of the institutional
Expectations of the learners for a safe
and comfortable learning environment
a distinction between “behaviors” and “judgments.”
Students “talking” may, or may not be “disrupting
the class.” Non-participation may mean that the
student is not paying attention, or it may mean that the
student is reflecting on the lesson. Two boys fooling
around might interrupt the class, but it is not necessarily
“bad.” It may merely be a sign that the teacher
is moving too slowly to engage them. The main point is
that dealing with classroom behaviors is more effective
if the teacher can keep emotion out of the dynamic. This
does not mean that there is never a time to indicate that
certain behaviors are unacceptable or wrong. It does mean
that dealing with them is usually more productive without
- Deal with classroom order and discipline at a level
appropriate to your own feelings and beliefs. Some people
can simply stand more chaos than others. You have to establish
a level of discipline and order you can live with. What
is “right” in the classroom is closely connected
with each individual?s values, attitudes and beliefs.
Thus, a noisy chaotic classroom atmosphere may be “right”
for one teacher, but “wrong” for another.
As well, our choice for dealing with classroom discipline
problems are related to our own personal lists of “rights”
and “wrongs.” Being aware of our individual
“values” is critical for making appropriate
decisions about classroom management.
To the degree possible, negotiate classroom rules and
procedures with your students. This might start with groups
or a committee making suggestions. Regular, or, „as
needed? returns to the groups should be included to revise,
add or delete rules. That does not mean that the teacher
will be ruled by student recommendations, but that the
teacher will solicit students' ideas, respect them and
include them as appropriate. Ultimately, the teacher must
be the final word.
the classroom – Some basics to consider.
behavior and dress. While this varies
from place to place, in general, teachers are expected
to represent conventional and relatively conservative
models of behavior and dress. Students have expectations
about how their teachers should act and dress. `Making
a statement' as a teacher may cost more than it's worth
in terms of credibility and respect, most particularly
overseas where the native-speaker may not really understand
the student's expectations.
learning vs. entertaining. The rule
of thumb here is that a teacher should be entertaining,
but not an entertainer. There is no doubt that many teachers
can be very effective in drawing the attention of their
students through humor, entertaining behavior and being
engaging personalities. This is useful to focus the student's
attention during some modeling and practice activities.
However, it is equally important for the teacher to know
how to step out of the limelight, literally, to get out
of the students' way. As we move through the basic lesson
paradigm of model to practice to communication, it becomes
increasingly important for the teacher to step back. The
“teacher as entertainer” role can get in the
way of the essential fact that ultimately, it is the students
who have to “do” things to become competent
in a language.
prepared – lesson plan, materials, and resources.
This is self-evident, but often forgotten in the everyday
routine of teaching. Sometimes, familiarity with a class
can lead to lack of preparation since the teacher falsely
believes that he can work something out as the class goes
along. Another common diversion from planning, is re-teaching
a lesson that has been done with other classes. Whatever
the case, there is no doubt that the best classes are
preceded by the best lesson plans. This means that the
teacher has carefully considered,
The context of the lesson in the learner"s
2. Modeling and target language
3. The objectives of the lesson in student
4. What the students will do at each stage
5. How the teacher will facilitate what
the students „do"
6. The potential problems that might arise
at each stage
7. Approximate timing for the lesson activities
8. The sequence of activities in terms of
learning and student engagement
9. The amount of material needed to fill
the allotted time and offer alternatives
planning is the first consideration in classroom management
students seldom require “problem management.”
your commitment and enthusiasm obvious. Students
respond with enthusiasm when they are led by an enthusiastic
teacher. You are the „energizer rabbit? in your
classroom. The students will be as animated and committed
as you appear to them. Do temper your enthusiasm with
a level of decorum appropriate to your role as a teacher.
Don?t behave in a manner that will offend or discomfort
students in the that culture – for example, overly
loud voice or sudden actions.
your presence in the classroom
Convey a need for order by your body language
in entering and organizing the classroom
- i.e. clean board, lay out materials, check
on seating arrangement, etc.
Recognize each person in the class with
eye contact, gesture or speech. You initial
movement around the class at this point
can be helpful in establishing this.
Establishing order may involve telling students
to put things away, or to take out class
Knowing the students' names is one of
the most effective ways of establishing rapport with your
class, and maintaining control during the lesson.
are some ideas.
Name games. Get students in a circle. Each
student says their name, and the name of
the previous students who have spoken as
you go around the circle. It gets harder
as you proceed, but it does focus everyone
on the task. A variation here is to have
a name association like “Dan the man”
to assist the memory process.
2. Taking role. Sounds pretty traditional,
but I expect has been the mainstay of teachers
for years to remember and use names in the
classroom. This can be made more fun with
something like “bullet questions –
i.e. quick questions fired at each student
that relate to the previously studied or
known language. It can also be fun to involve
the students in taking role so it is not
just teacher-centered activity.
3. Picture. Some teachers make a photo album
at the beginning of every class semester,
and keep it handy for reference. With digital
and computer technology this is becoming
an even handier option.
Contact and position
Use eye contact to recognize the presence of
everyone in the class, both at the beginning of the class,
and during the class so that all the students know that
you are interested in what they are doing.
• Obviously, your eye contact must
be friendly and brief enough not to embarrass.
This is particularly important in some countries.
• Eye contact is a way to keep in
touch with other students in the class when
you are addressing an individual, or a group.
• You should combine eye contact with
position in the classroom by standing close
to some students while using eye contact
to maintain contact with others.
• Changing your position helps you
to check on everybody in the class, and
makes sure you don?t ignore someone.
• Remember, getting close to someone:
1. Doesn't mean you must „confront?
them (demo), and
2. Can be an effective way to “reign
in” students whose attention has wandered.
Most effective teachers have developed
a set of classroom gestures to indicate what they want
students to do. These gestures are often more effective
than voice directions, and at least reinforce voice directions.
Unnecessary teacher talk and directions actually tends
to raise classroom „hubbub? and „clutters?
the atmosphere with unneeded noise.
typical gestures are:
- hand cupped behind the ear
in chorus - sweep of the hands like an orchestra
up - raising the hands palms upward
down - motioning downwards with the palms down
into pairs - hand or finger movements to show
- clap or time out sign
- thumbs up or smile and nod (Watch out for...!)
right - facial expression, plus shake of head
right - outstretched hand rocked side to side
or thumb and fore finger lightly apart
idea - raised eyebrows and nod
- beckoning with the cupped hand
again - circling motion with hand to one student
Missing word - “fingers” – one
finger for each word indicating that one word
when you meet a class for the first few times they will
be unaccustomed to you and your gestures. You will have
to reinforce your gestures with spoken directions, and
there may be some initial hesitancy or confusion.
is to be avoided
1. Be careful not to use any words, gestures
or body language, which is offensive to your students.
2. Be conscious of, and try to control, any “tics”
which might irritate or distract the class – for
example, rapid movement around the class, saying “OK”,
“Right, right”, “Good job” or
1. Who sits next to whom?
2. Are seating positions fixed?
3. If they change, when and how often?
4. What are the advantages and disadvantages
of fixed vs. flexible seating?
create a learning community in your classroom you may want
to move students around quite often. Once they become accustomed
to this, it should contribute to the level of interest and
engagement in activities since students do not keep talking
to only a few people. Even in a classroom where fixed seats
may be required or desirable, it is useful to move students
around temporarily a few times during the class to create
more interesting communication dynamics.
Re-seating students as a classroom management
tool is also an option. Separating two unruly boys, or
girls, is often the least disruptive way of dealing with
fooling around or excessive talking.
• Teacher talk can be one of the best
sources for authentic language in the classroom.
• Clear instructions by the teacher
are “real” language communication
essential for good classroom management.
• The teacher can provide invaluable
input for the class with:
1. Authentic listening texts - a tape cassette
is not always needed
2. Anecdotes and stories, particularly for
cultural exploration and personalizing
3. Modeling for form, pronunciation and
4. Correction of errors
5. Explanations of language points
This is a common activity in classrooms all over the world.
It is used to:
Get students involved and interested
Check on student level
Focus on topical, situational or functional
Personalize the lesson with student input
the same time, it is important to realize that eliciting,
in itself, is not teaching. In other words, if the student
can answer and provide words or ideas in English, then
they are already known. Getting partial responses or individual
words, may be a starting point to build on. Alternatively,
it is a way that students in a class can share and build
their store of vocabulary and expressions. For this reason,
it is important that the teacher choreograph the situation
so that the vocabulary and expressions offered by the
students are recorded and shared. This is done by:
Eliciting to the board
- Brainstorming on poster paper
- Students writing no the board
work is an important interactive activity because it:
Gives the student a chance to practice,
and experiment with what they are learning.
Allows the teacher to withdraw and monitor
student performance and progress
Encourages rapport and collaborative learning
Builds affective competence (confidence)
Encourages shy or withdrawn students to
Encourages learner autonomy
Adds variety to the lesson
Allows the student to “invest”
in the lesson and personalize
Mini-groups of three?s is a great alternative
to group work since it focuses the speaking activity more.
It is an improvement on pairs since one of the students
can watch and listen, while the others speak. The observer
in the trio may in fact be learning more than the participants.
At least, the individuals get to make some choices about
who speaks and when, plus the additional input from another
Group work is an extremely useful, communicative
learning activity. It is natural and engaging for most
people to exchange and develop ideas in a group. If the
teacher encourages a collaborative, helpful atmosphere,
the peer exchanges in groups can be of critical importance
in developing language competence. It is likely that much
of the “scaffolding” dialogue between students
occurs in this format, with the sharing of ideas, vocabulary,
language form and usage. Group work is often the best
answer for large classes and difficult students. The activity
itself is engaging, and it allows the teacher to focus
attention where it is most needed for both input and control.
Group work needs to be carefully planned and executed.
Group work needs to be linked to the context and target
language that has been modeled and practiced with the
class. The students should know clearly what they are
expected to do, and have language models and resources
available. For example, in the “Expanded Lesson
Framework” the group work stage is modeled by the
listening activity – i.e. the students are expected
to produce their own dialogue that matches the fill-in
listening dialogue they have just completed. Another possibility
is for the teacher to show a completed, or partially completed,
example of the work that the students are expected to
do. Working group size is normally between 4 and 7 students.
Do not be overly concerned if the students use L1 in the
group, as long as the “product” – for
example a poster of presentation – has to be in
Focus or “tasking ” of ac t
i vi t y. It must be clear to the students
what they are doing in the group. They must have a clear
task – for example, making a poster, preparing a
group dialogue, drawing and labeling pictures, or writing
a story. One of the easiest devices for doing this is
poster paper. Asking students to develop dialogues, lists,
mind maps or writing on posters gives the group a visual
focus, and at the same time, provides the teacher with
clear evidence of what the group is doing. Using poster
paper and markers makes the task large enough for the
entire group to see and contribute to. The teacher can
often elaborate the poster focus by providing a picture,
symbol or format (like columns) for the students.
Setting up the group. The most common practice is probably
“bunching” – the teacher groups together
4-5 students sitting close to each other. While this is
OK, it may be better to count off the students and then
group them by
number – i.e. all the 1's together, all the 2's
together, etc. This has the advantage of separating friends,
which often makes the groups work better. Changing group
make up occasionally is also recommended, although groups
would normally remain consistent for a given activity
Another feature to be choreographed is sharing group information
and products. Some possibilities.
Poster sessions. Put posters on the wall and walk
Spies. Each group sends “spies” out
to find out and report on what the other groups
Pyramiding. Putting two groups together to exchange
or present what they have done
Immigrants. One member of each group “emigrates”
to another group taking along information about
what their original group was doing.
Teacher elicitation to the board.
Focused group work needs a task, as mentioned
above, but there must also be a product, or result, that
puts the students the spot to do something with what they
have produced. This could be,
A role play
An audio or video tape
A fishbowl discussion (the rest of the class observes
but does not participate)
Interviewing native speakers outside of class
A simulation – an elaborate role-play involving
multiple characters and roles.
This will depend upon the class, but something the
teacher should plan careful and review as the class proceeds.
In some classes the group activity may take up less than
10%-20% of the class period. In other classes the majority
of the time may be spent in groups. Some of this will
depend upon level. Usually, lower levels need more modeling
and controlled practice time, and thereby, less group
time. More advanced classes may spend most of their time
in groups with the teacher coaching each group individually.
The critical question is how much input is needed for
the groups to function. If a lot of input is needed, then
the teacher will have to spend “whole class”
time doing this with models and practice. Group time will
follow other class activity. The proportion of group time
will increase, as the need for input becomes less.
When in the lesson? Just about any time
is fine. A class could begin with students brainstorming
ideas and vocabulary, and then go on to modeling of core
materials and controlled practice activity. Brainstorming
could follow the introduction of a core dialogue to develop
additionally vocabulary in the middle of a lesson. Groups
could come at the end of the lesson to prepare for presentation
or role-plays in the following class.
Once the teacher has established the group task and checked
with each group to assure understanding, the best step
is probably to step back and take stock of what is happening.
Teachers often feel compelled to be doing something, and
this may translate into getting involved with the group
work. While this may be
helpful, initially it may be best to let the groups work
a bit on their own while the teacher observes, monitors
and determines when and where intervention is needed.
If things are going well the hardest job may be to do
nothing. Teachers need to encourage independence and self-sustaining
group activity. Another factor is the need for the teacher
to encourage and show appreciation for what the students
are doing. Thus, while the teacher should intervene only
as necessary, careful monitoring and attention are important.
All classroom activities require teacher
monitoring. While classroom management involves “controlling”
the class, and maintaining order and focus, it also means
monitoring - constantly checking - on the progress of
student learning. One of the first things that teachers
need to remember is to pay attention to what their students
are doing. This may seem obvious, but it?s not just watching
over the students, but looking carefully at what they
are doing. First and foremost, students are doing things
to please the teacher. If they don?t think the teacher
is noticing and interested in what they are doing, then
they won?t be.
points to consider.
off a little bit in the beginning of group or
pair work to emphasize that students should work
on their own, and to assess where your intervention
might be most needed.
Consider how you are going to check on progress
with students who are not responding vocally.
This often means having them write things, both
as part of the `task' involved, but also so the
teacher can `see' what is being done.
Move around the classroom so you have a chance
to check on each student, and keep an eye on the
rest of the class as you. The problem here is
that teachers often get so involved with one group,
that they ignore what is going on in the rest
of the class.
–to help teachers manage class well
Introducing the Class Syllabus
Reading, Understanding Personal and class goals
– Intermediate and advanced.
Write out anticipated syllabus for the course. It should
be realistic. Should include approximate weekly plan,
material needed, and expectation from students.
1.Greet the students, read their names,
do introductory addresses.
2. Students form small groups to talk about
and write their expectations. A spokesperson
from each group writes them down and reports
3. Validate the expectations by pointing
out which ones will match the syllabus.
4. Give tentative outline of the syllabus
and say it is flexible.
5. Give out the syllabus and read it.
6. Promise to look over the suggestions.
7. Let the class know the suggestions you
The Daily Plan
Aim – Reading and Review
Level – All Levels Time –
Preparation – Write a brief outline
of your lesson plan on the board before each lesson.
Try writing it in the same place each day.
Go over the day?s plan with the students
2. Check off the items as they are covered.
3. At the end briefly review the points
covered, items added and points that could
not be covered.
4. Make noting of the absentees in the register.
Aim – Writing, Homework, Reminder,
Level – All levels Time –
Preparation - Prepare a loose–leaf
1. Appoint a student to write up the page
for the students who have been absent.
2. The appointed student copies the daily
plan from the board, makes notes, handouts,
checks out the activities done in the class.
3. Place all handouts in a place accessible
by the students.
4. Students who were absent check the book
to make up assignments.
Aim – Speaking, listening, building
of a cohesive classroom environment
Level – Intermediate – Advanced
Time – 10 – 15 mins.
1. Alternate day choose a student who will
be today's special student.
2. Any other student may introduce him/her.
They leave the class to make an introduction
3. Return and introduce the „today?s
special student? and reply to questions
word about Disaster Management
A teacher spends considerable amount of time in the school
in the company of students. Therefore, when there is an
emergency the students turn first to the teacher for help.
In most teacher training courses, this fact is overlooked.
But in the day to day functioning of the school, the skill
of the teacher in handling emergency situations is always
called for. It is important for teachers to have a preliminary
training in first aid. However remember
not to treat the student's ailment in anyway but just
administer first aid till the time medical help arrives.
Also an awareness of survival skills during a natural
calamity like a flood, earthquake, fire etc will
help in not only being unharmed yourself but also play
a key role in saving others without panicking.
The teacher is the first person to identify deviate
behavior pattern in a student because he/ she
spends regular and prolonged stretches of time with students.
If the teacher is approachable and has built a rapport
usually the student will open up to the teacher. In such
circumstances it is advisable to take into confidence
other senior colleagues or administrative head before
addressing the parents.
and Mixed Group Management
you start teaching you will realize that no teaching-
learning context is perfect. There are always imperfect
institutions, people and circumstances to deal with. And
some of them are beyond our control so we have to make
do with what we have and in the best possible way. One
of the main concerns of teachers is class size in certain
countries. Ideally a class should have a maximum of 15
students but in many schools especially in Asia class
sizes vary from 40 to 80 or at times even more. Classes
should be large enough to provide diversity and student
interaction and small enough to give students plenty of
opportunity to participate and to get individual attention.
Unfortunately, this is not always so. While you need to
keep reminding administrators of the diminishing returns
of classes in excess you nevertheless may have to cope
with the reality of a large class for the time being.
The problems presented by large numbers are many - Proficiency
and ability vary widely across students. Individual teacher-
student attention is minimized. Student opportunities
to participate are lessened and teacher?s feedback on
student?s work is limited.
may be some ways of dealing with this problem which may
apply to one or several of the above challenges:
Try to make each student feel important and not
just a number by learning names and using them.
Assign students as much interactive work as possible,
including plenty of “get acquainted”
activities at the beginning so that they feel
a part of the community and are not lost in the
Optimize the use of pair work and group work to
give students chances to perform.
Use a lot of listening activities and through
them lead to them to other reading, speaking and
Use peer- feedback whenever appropriate.
Give students a range of extra class work, from
a minimum that all students must do to challenging
tasks for students with higher ability.
Do not collect written work from all students
at the same time. Spread it out to lighten your
Set up a small area in the room where students
can do individualized work.
Organize informal conversation groups and study
is often a wide range of proficiency levels among students
in the same class, especially in large groups, but even
relatively small classes can be composed of students who
may have mixed ability. You are then faced with the problem
of challenging the higher-level students and not overwhelming
the lower-level ones and at the same time keeping the
middle group well paced towards their goals. Here are
some suggestions to consider:
- Do not over generalize your student's proficiency
levels by making blanket classifications of good
and bad students. Teachers have to be aware of
the issue of proficiency vs. ability.
- As much as possible identify the specific skills
and abilities of each student so that you can
tailor your techniques to individualized needs.
- Offer choices in individual techniques that
vary according to needs and challenges.
- Take advantage of whatever learning centers
or tutorial laboratories may be available in your
- Group work tasks offer opportunities for you
to solve multiple – proficiency issues.
Sometimes you can place students of varying ranges
in the same group and at times students of the
same range in a group together.
yourself on the continua of teacher styles below:
Styles: (Courtesy Teaching by Principles by H. Douglas
A B C D E Gregarious
Formal A B C D E Informal
Reserved A B C D E Transparent
Understated A B C D E Dramatic
Rational A B C D E Emotional
Steady A B C D E Moody
Serious A B C D E Humorous
Restrictive A B C D E Permissive
one box for each pair of adjective. Boxes A and E indicate
that the adjective is very like you. Boxes B and D indicate
that the adjective somewhat describes you, while Box C
indicates that you have no inclination one way or another.
answer the following questions:
Do you feel that you need to change some of those natural
styles when you enter the classroom? If not, why do you
feel your present styles are adequate? Are there any tendencies
that might work against you? What should you do to prevent
such a problem?
Consider any 3 of the following situations and discuss
how you might handle them.
One or more students are not participating or engaged
in the lesson.
2. A group of students come into the classroom after the
lesson has begun.
3. One student has her head down on the desk and other
students are looking at her.
4. The beginning of the class is delayed because two students
5. You have assigned a task, and some of the students
have already completed it, but others are still working.
6. You have purposely counted off students to work in
random groups of 5, but some students want to stay with
their friends and don?t go to the assigned group.
7. One student is causing disruption (acting out).