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Classroom Management and Young Learners (Part 2)

Children raising their hands in classRoutine! Routine! Routine!

by Naomi Moir, author of Starting and Ending Lessons, part of the Oxford Basics for Children series.

In my first blog about classroom management, I mentioned the importance of creating a safe and secure learning environment – one way of doing this is through establishing clear routines. There are 3 points in a lesson where routines are particularly important:

  1. Starting the lesson
  2. Transitioning between stages/activities
  3. Ending the lesson

Starting lessons:

The obvious reason for using a routine to start your lessons is of course ‘start as you mean to go on’! If you want a calm, well-managed class, this expectation needs to be conveyed from the very beginning. There’s also another reason…when exercising the body it’s important to warm up, if you jump right into the main physical activity you might hurt or strain your muscles, and this can stop or discourage you from doing more exercise later. Well, learning is like exercising the brain! Without a proper warm up, the brain will feel the strain, which can put children off learning – the last thing we want to do!

Here are a few practical suggestions to help ease students into their English lessons:

  • Have the children make a line outside the classroom door, greet and make eye contact with each one as they enter the room. If lining up outside the class isn’t possible, get them to form a line down the middle of the class instead. Then walk along the line, greeting and making eye contact before directing them to sit down.
  • Ask the children to sit/stand in a circle on the floor and to greet each other in turn.
  • Start the lesson with an activity that’s familiar and relatively easy, such as a game they particularly like.
  • Put a word or number puzzle on the board for students to sit down quietly and try to solve as they come into the class.
  • Ask a different child each lesson to write the date on the board.
  • Encourage the children to be involved in any set up that’s required (moving furniture, handing out supplies etc.)
  • Establish a routine for where they should put their books, pencil case and bag etc. Children are easily distracted by ‘things’, so it’s better if they can be somewhere out of sight/reach until they need them (e.g. along the back wall, or the windowsill).

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Classroom Management and Young Learners

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.

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School’s out! But not for everyone…!

Empty School Hallway

Oxford Teacher Trainer, Naomi Moir, offers some lesson ideas for those ‘less than ordinary’ summer schools.

Many teachers round the globe are right now breathing a sigh of relief as the school year draws to a close, that’s it for another year, schools out! But for many, there’s a whole chunk of teaching still to be done! For me, for a number of years, the end of term signalled the start of my busiest and most challenging teaching period – summer school/teaching!

For some, summer means a 6-8 week stint back ‘home’ teaching flirty, chatty, sulky teens. For others it might mean a couple of weeks out in the countryside teaching on a summer camp with kids from as young as 7 or 8 up to the ages of 15 or 16, and for some it’s hot, sweaty days in a stuffy classroom with a bunch of kids in need of extra help. Whatever summer school/teaching means to you, it usually has some of the following elements:

  • Few(er) resources
  • Little or no ‘set’ syllabus/curriculum
  • More varied abilities and ages in a group
  • Longer lessons
  • Extra-curricular activities

These factors all contribute to summer school/teaching being ‘different’ to general term-time teaching. It therefore, requires more creative planning on behalf of the teacher – something that can be tricky to find the energy for on the back of a busy school year!

Here are a couple of ideas I’ve made use of (many times!) over my summer teaching days, I hope they’re useful to you. I would love to hear your thoughts on how they go if you use of any and, of course, it would be great if anybody wanted to share an idea or two of their own!

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Understanding Teenagers

Written by Naomi Moir.

Hands up who would happily go back to being 14 or 15 years old? My hand is staying firmly by my side! Although most of us would love to turn the clock back a bit, I think for the most part, we wouldn’t choose to go back to being teenagers.

Being a teenager isn’t easy – it’s a really awkward period of transition. For boys, their limbs are suddenly long and gangly, and their feet 3 sizes bigger. They can’t move without knocking into something or banging a knee or an elbow. For girls, well there’s the fact that they’re now towering head and shoulders over most the boys, not to mention the development of other aspects of their bodies! No wonder they moan and groan when we ask them to stand up and move around in class – there’s all sorts of opportunities for embarrassment!

bored teenager

Image source: bbc.co.uk

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Three Question Interview – Naomi Moir

We have asked top ELT authors the following 3 questions:

  1. What’s your favourite ELT book?
  2. What or who has had the biggest impact on ELT in the last 25 years?
  3. What do you wish you’d known when you started out in ELT?

Here, Naomi Moir answers these questions in a short interview:

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