If you remember Amy from her TEFL Logue interview a few days ago, you probably realize that she might just be in a position to offer some insight on discipline; she’s taught English both abroad (teaching business and general English to doctors and university students in Thailand for a term) and at home (for the past two and a half years, teaching seventh grade English to students with disciplinary problems).
What advice can she give about classroom management for kids’ teachers?
“Teaching at a disciplinary school, classroom management is where I live. It’s not all that difficult.
First, keep the rules to a minimum. Right now I have seven, but next year I’ll have four:
- Keep your hands, feet and all objects to yourself.
- Raise your hand if you have a question.
- Respect your teachers (accept their decisions, etc.), respect others (no put-downs), respect yourself (try, don’t give up, etc.).
- Do as you’re asked the first time.
That’s it. That encompasses everything.
Second, don’t try to be buddies with your students! Kids can smell a pushover about 20 miles away. You’re there to be the teacher. Teach. Don’t be mean or nasty about it, but establish your authority through the key word: CONSISTENCY! Be consistent. Keep the rules simple, don’t give in to the whining and begging and deal-making (Miss, I’ll be quiet if you let me play on the computer; Miss, if I finish my work, will you take minutes off my detention?).
Next, LOVE what you do, and love your students. Even the ugly ones, the mean ones, the dumb ones (and you’ll have them), the smelly ones. Encourage them, share in their world, be accessible. It’s hard to match that with not trying to be their friend, but whatever. Live in a constant state of tiptoe-ing along the edge between friend and teacher. A little tension is good for you.
Finally, don’t be afraid to issue consequences. Never threaten (it never works), but let your kids know that you are performing a service, and should they choose not to follow the code of conduct, their behavior has consequences.
Oh, one last tidbit. Document everything. Everything, everything, everything. There will come a time when you need that documentation. Trust me.”
I don’t know Amy, but I get the sense she knows what’s what with discipline. I think it’s notable, and a sign of a good teacher, that alongside this necessary attention on discipline, she has a positive attitude and plenty of ideas and suggestions. I’ll end with this comment Amy made about her students and the rewards of teaching them:
“Whatever their background, whatever their first language, I can teach them English! It’s good fun encouraging my non-readers to try just one new word. It’s great watching them take charge of an assignment and encouraging them in their improvements. When a student learns a new word – AND how to use it – the child is one step closer to achieving real communication with the English-speaking world.”
Thanks to Amy for taking the time to share her experience and advice with the TEFL Logue.