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Classroom Management and Young Learners

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Group of oriental children crowding around a model globeClassroom management is more important than English. Discuss!

by Naomi Moir.

I believe the above statement 100% – without good classroom management you have no chance of teaching English successfully! A new school year is about to start for many teachers, so it seems to make sense to focus on this topic. However, it really is too big an area to cover in one blog, so I’m going to split it over three:

  1. The benefits of a well-managed classroom and a few tips
  2. The importance of routines and some practical suggestions
  3. Dealing with problematic situations

So what are the benefits of a well-managed classroom? Here are a few from me, but I’m sure there are more, please feel free to add to this list by leaving a comment below.

1. Children learn best in a safe and secure environment:

It’s important to create an atmosphere where the children feel sure, confident and relaxed, thus lowering the ‘affective filter’ (Krashen). This means students having an idea of what to expect when they’re in class, it’s the shy, quiet one knowing that they won’t get drowned out by the boisterous, rowdy ones and it’s about receiving praise not only for succeeding but also for trying and making an effort.

2. More time for the teacher:

If less of the lesson time is spent on ‘crowd control’, there’s more time for you to take stock during the lesson, to see where you need to go next and also to interact with the individual, find out how they’re doing and provide more support or challenge where needed.

3. Easier to engage students and get them on task:

Every transition from one stage/activity to another, shouldn’t start with a battle to get and keep their attention. This wastes valuable lesson time and is draining for the teacher. Students quickly pick up if they don’t need to listen/respond immediately and are well-known for having ‘selective listening’! Getting them engaged and on task efficiently increases opportunities for learning.

4. Invaluable life/learning skill:

Children need to know that teachers (and adults) should be respected. They need to know what constitutes good behaviour in the classroom (and out!) and what is/isn’t acceptable. Working with children means you are responsible not only for the subject you are teaching, but their education and development in general.

All well and good in theory, and of course so much easier to talk about than actually implement! The next two blogs will give more practical ideas, but here are my top tips to get the ball rolling, what are yours?

  • Don’t cram too much into lessons – it creates a frantic, rushed atmosphere
  • Factor in time for classroom management when planning lessons – if you teach a 45min lesson, 10-15mins can be used on managing the class
  • Establish clear routines for starting and ending lessons and transitioning between stages/activities
  • Have clear and agreed consequences for both positive and negative behaviour
  • Plan instructions carefully and break down into stages so as not to overwhelm
  • Remove distractions (bags, coats, pencil cases, books) when not needed – out of sight, out of mind!
  • Allow them some breathing space – time to wriggle, time to chat with their friend, etc. Factor this in rather than try to stamp it out – that’s a losing battle!

Remember, there’s no such thing as perfection and there’s also no easy solution! Good classroom management takes time, patience and consistency.

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Author: Oxford University Press ELT

The official global blog for Oxford University Press English Language Teaching. Bringing teachers and other ELT professionals top quality resources, tools, hints and tips, news, ideas, insights and discussions to help further their ELT career. Follow Oxford ELT on Twitter. Find Oxford ELT on Google+.

3 thoughts on “Classroom Management and Young Learners

  1. re: if you teach a 45min lesson, 10-15mins can be used on managing the class

    I would disagree – I think spending 1/4 of the lesson time on classroom management is a bit too much – unless you’re suggesting to do it once a week or so.
    Of course, it’s essential to establish a routine for starting/ending your lessons etc – I’m completely with you on this one – but the main point of establishing it is to have YLs focus on learning – without distractions, right? 2mins in the beginning and 2 at the end sounds just right.

  2. Really i completely agree with you and thank you for your good and useful ideas.

  3. Pingback: Classroom Management and Young Learners (Part 2) « Oxford University Press

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