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Language assistants' answers


Question: Discipline 1

I'm teaching in a school, where I take half of the class and teach them English and then swap the group over and take the other half, therefore there is no teacher supervision. I was told at the start that some of the classes were a bit uncontrollable and it was suggested by a few teachers that if a pupil was naughty I could send them back to the class. I've done this a few times reluctantly but the problem I found was that with a couple of classes, this isn't really punishing the child because they just rejoin the class like nothing has happened the following week and continue to disrupt the class. I've also tried separating pupils, and have spoken to the head teacher and class teachers about the problem because it got to such an extent that the whole class were messing around and not listening to me. What should I do?

 

     
 

 

Answer:

I can sympathise with your concerns about rowdy groups. You wonder if they will learn anything and your own motivation to teach them is tested to the limit. I am glad you can turn to the teachers but wonder if you yourself could start exploring different ways to get round this problem. There must be some factors influencing this rowdiness. What could be making the difference? What are their main interests? If they are bored teenagers then there might be a little value in trying to persuade them that their English will come in handy. This might not be the case or immediately apparent to them.


Answer:

One strategy is to evaluate means and ways to deal with the rowdiness. Is anyone else having similar difficulties? Have you made any progress? What approaches are working or not working for your classes? Clearly you cannot altogether rely on your class teacher's strategy as that doesn't work. Number one discipline point, never make a threat which you do not intend to carry out. Secondly, never expect your strategy to work overnight. Rowdiness is not cured in a day so don't despair if you don't get immediate results!


Answer:

Don't blame yourself and think the problem is you. The problem is the strategy used to deal with rowdiness. Not you. It's their loss if they don't learn, but I know it must be frustrating and demoralising for you.


Answer:

Try the silently disapproving approach. When noise builds sit in a prominent position on the main desk or stand at the centre of the room and keep calm and silent. Catch as many eyes as possible and see if they gradually calm down. It has been shown that the sheer embarrassment factor stops many and leaves only the troublemakers making the final bit of noise. It is true that the more you shout, the more they will shout. This is called by one of my friend's "the silent boss approach". Do not think it is passive. You need to impress upon them that you are in control of the noise level, not them.


Answer:

Improve your management of who speaks and when. You need to introduce from early on some basic rules regarding how to speak and when. Hands up to answer a question (not all shouting at once), no talking over someone else, listening to what others say. Rowdiness indicates they have not been trained to listen to each other. Apart from the basic ground rules of not interrupting, speaking when teacher says your name or nods in your direction, you can do tasks to practise listening to others.



Answer:

First stop is to evaluate the content of lessons. What topics could you use to motivate them? They need themes that are intrinsically interesting and also tasks which are achievable. Are they used to hearing a lot of their mother tongue in English lessons? They may need a lot of time to get used to your voice and to understand what you want them to do.

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