Welcome: Renan Herrera  
Certification Program

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 classroom situations.

Phase 4 - Classroom Management

Classroom Management

Try 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.

Classroom 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.

With 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

Some general principles

- Make 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 making judgments.

- 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.

Approaching the classroom – Some basics to consider.

Professional 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.

Encouraging 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.

Be 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,

1. The context of the lesson in the learner"s terms
2. Modeling and target language
3. The objectives of the lesson in student terms
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

Lesson planning is the first consideration in classroom management since engaged
students seldom require “problem management.”

Make 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.

Establishing 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 materials.


Knowing the students' names is one of the most effective ways of establishing rapport with your class, and maintaining control during the lesson.

Here are some ideas.

1. 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.

Eye 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.

Some typical gestures are:

  • Listen - hand cupped behind the ear
  • Repeat in chorus - sweep of the hands like an orchestra director
  • Stand up - raising the hands palms upward
  • Sit down - motioning downwards with the palms down
  • Get into pairs - hand or finger movements to show getting together
  • Stop - clap or time out sign
  • Good - thumbs up or smile and nod (Watch out for...!)
  • Not right - facial expression, plus shake of head or finger
  • Nearly right - outstretched hand rocked side to side or thumb and fore finger lightly apart
  • Interesting idea - raised eyebrows and nod
  • Eliciting - beckoning with the cupped hand
  • Say again - circling motion with hand to one student
  • Missing word - “fingers” – one finger for each word indicating that one word is missing

Remember, 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.

What 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 other repeatedly.

Seating Arrangements

Things to consider:

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?

To 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

• Teacher talk can be one of the best sources for authentic language in the classroom.
• Clear instructions by the teacher are “real” language communication and are
essential for good classroom management. Discuss:
• 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 meaning
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 areas
  • Personalize the lesson with student input
  • Encourage initiative

At 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

Pair work
Pair 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 participate
  • 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 student.

Group work

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.

Things to consider

Preparations. 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 English.

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.

Choreography. 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 or task.

Sharing. Another feature to be choreographed is sharing group information and products. Some possibilities.

  • Poster sessions. Put posters on the wall and walk around
  • Spies. Each group sends “spies” out to find out and report on what the other groups are doing
  • Pyramiding. Putting two groups together to exchange or present what they have done
  • Class presentations
  • 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.

Products. 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 presentation
  • 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.

Timing. 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.

Management. 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.

Some points to consider.

  • Back 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.

Activities –to help teachers manage class well

• Introducing the Class Syllabus

Aim- Reading, Understanding Personal and class goals

Level – Intermediate and advanced.

Time- 30 min

Preparation- Write out anticipated syllabus for the course. It should be realistic. Should include approximate weekly plan, material needed, and expectation from students.
Procedure –

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 them.
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 have incorporated.

The Daily Plan
Aim – Reading and Review
Level – All Levels Time – Fluid
Preparation – Write a brief outline of your lesson plan on the board before each lesson.
Try writing it in the same place each day.

1. 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.

The Absentee’s Notebook
Aim – Writing, Homework, Reminder, Review.
Level – All levels Time – Fluid
Preparation - Prepare a loose–leaf notebook.
Procedure -

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.

Today’s Special Student
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 ready.
3. Return and introduce the „today?s special student? and reply to questions asked.

  A 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.

  Large and Mixed Group Management

Once 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.

There 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 crowd.
  • 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 writing work.
  • 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 load.
  • Set up a small area in the room where students can do individualized work.
  • Organize informal conversation groups and study groups.

There 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 institution.

- 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.

Assignment I

Rate yourself on the continua of teacher styles below:

Teaching Styles: (Courtesy Teaching by Principles by H. Douglas Brown)

Shy 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

Check 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.

Now, 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?

2. Potential Problems
Consider any 3 of the following situations and discuss how you might handle them.

1. 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 are fighting.
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).


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