Classroom management, although rarely explicitly taught in education classes, is an essential (if not THE most essential) component of a successful classroom. Like any classroom, students in an efl
class come with some basic needs apart from the need to learn something: the need to be respected, the need to be treated fairly, and the need to be heard. If these basic needs are not met by the teacher
, he or she will have a hard time getting the students to work. Therefore, with the help of ideas from authors Wong & Wong and Fred Jones, I offer
these practical suggestions for successful classroom management.
First of all, it is important to establish a sense of rapport with students from day one. In the efl
classroom, students are required to take risks and practice their speaking often. Students must therefore be comfortable in their surroundings. This comfort level can be created by familiarity with peers and with the teacher
. Playing warm up and get-to-know each other games is important especially at the beginning of a course. Different kinds of groupings including whole-class, partner, and group activities allow students a chance to get to know each other and the teacher
. Rapport with students is also established through the teacher
's style and tone. Students will respond well and feel comfortable in a classroom in which the teacher
is positive, calm, and has a sense of humor.
A classroom with clear structure is also essential to successful management. The teacher
needs to spend time thinking about and committing to his/her classroom structure before the first day of the course. Structure means rules, routines, and the arrangement of classroom space. Rules should be established on the first day of class. These rules need to be simple and explained clearly. The teacher
has to commit to upholding these rules with consistency or they become pointless. Routines like distributing supplies or what to do upon arrival to class should be established during the first few classes and upheld consistently. Finally, student desks should be arranged in a way that allows a teacher
to walk the room and touch base will all the students. It is also important to keep in mind how desks can be arranged easily into different groupings. Having a clear structure, which is set up at the beginning of a course, offer
s comfort to students who want to meet the expectations of their teacher
and enables learning to be the priority.
In the efl
classroom, discipline may or may not be a potential problem depending on the group of students. It is more likely to be a problem when the students are children
. Therefore, if creating rapport and establishing classroom structure are not enough to maintain discipline themselves, it is worth taking a look at what Fred Jones calls, “limit setting”. “Limit setting” is more the establishment of a teacher
in control than anything else. The teacher
needs to demonstrate that he/she is in control of the classroom, not by force, but by simple, patient, calm confidence. A student who misbehaves should be sent a clear message that their behavior is unacceptable and that they need to get back to work. Therefore, the teacher
should make eye contact or increase proximity to a student who misbehaves or even say his/her name. The goal is to get the student back to work and any consequences can be talked through after class. The teacher
should not raise his/her voice or try to embarrass the student because this often escalates the problem more than helps it. Students need to be respected and “limit setting” should be done in a way that maintains that respect while also demonstrating that the teacher
is in control.
Successful classroom management takes work and planning. It may come to a relief for some, though, that it does not need to entail coercion, yelling, or anger. The most successful teacher
s are those who understand the basic needs of their students and create a classroom of comfort, structure, and positive feelings.
Jones, Fred. Tools for Teaching. Santa Cruz, CA: Frederic H. Jones and Associates, Inc., 2007.
Wong, Harry K. and Rosemary T Wong. The First Days of School. California
: Harry K. Wong Publications, 2004.