Classroom Discipline. This discussion forum thread (click here) is a very interesting discussion on discipline in the ESL classroom. It shows different teachers using different discipline techniques in their classes and highlights a huge variety of methods to deal with and prevent disruptive or unresponsive students.
Classroom Layout. Although younger kids like to have the security of a routine lesson many older children (7+) need variety to generate and maintain interest. One thing you can try is different classroom setups. Re-arrange desk/seating positions and make sure kids have the chance to sit next to different friends. Change the positions of well established things - the toy box, posters, board, etc. Make the rearrangements into a challenging game: "Where is the tape recorder?" "Whoever can find the pencils first wins a point!" and so on.
Cushions. Cushions (to sit on) can really help with classroom management as they make student arrangement a quick and easy task. If you want students to sit in a circle, for example, just arrange the cushions in a circle and tell your Ss to sit on them. This is a particularly useful resource in classes with very young kids.
Energy Burning. Kids have so much energy they sometimes need to just burn some off if they get restless. Try a 3 minute exercise routine (good for basic verb learning too!): T says "Jump (8) times" and students jump together. Then move on to "Run on the spot", "Turn Around", Hands up and down" "Hop" and "Star Jump". This activity can be made more challenging by making it a 'Simon Says' game.
Homework Marking. Young learners take a lot of pride in their homework (even at 2 years old!). When marking you should be very positive and encouraging. Finish off with a sticker, stamp or happy face drawing and a comment - for younger learners comments like "Great", "Wonderful", "Good Job", etc. are really appreciated. For older students a couple of lines, often giving your (positive) opinion of what has been written or drawn, can go a long way and also encourage reading practice!
Points system. If you don't mind a competitive element to your lessons - write your students names on a piece of poster paper. During the class if a student does something special (gives a correct answer, wins a game, helps another student, uses English independently, etc.) s/he gets a point - symbolized by a stamp or mark next to their name on the poster. At the end of the lesson the student with the most points wins a prize (a sticker or candy). Try and make sure that each lesson a different student wins.
Student Choice. Involving your students in deciding the content of the lesson can really help motivate them and avoid disruptive behavior. Here are 5 involvement strategies that allow student choice in the lesson plan: 1. Allow students to decide the order of activities. 2. Give an 'either or' choice, this can between like and like (e.g. this game or this game), or between different activities (e.g. bingo or a crossword puzzle?). 3. Have a class where each child in turn gets to choose what to do. 4. List the activities up on the board and ask the children to choose one (you can nest activities that build on each other). 5. Take a survey, ask children to rank some themes, pool the results and then base next month's classes on the most popular theme.
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