Case study: Discipline in the classroom
A newly qualified ESL teacher sent me an email asking for help with discipline in the classroom. I have written this as a case study so others can learn from this common situation. Please do write in the comments section if you have any questions.
‘I am currently teaching in Italy, where I’ve just started teaching 14 hours per week in various nursery schools (50 minute lessons with each group, ranging from 10-25 children) and smaller groups in local schools of primary school age children.
With the groups in the nurseries, there is an Italian teacher present who has (so far this week) been maintaining discipline (in what strikes as me as quite a threatening and punitive way, but I only have experience working with children as a nanny so I’m not sure of procedures in schools).’
Firstly even if the Italian teacher appears draconian to you, be grateful that he/she is keeping order in your class!
It’s one thing being a nanny, or having one or two kids, but it’s quite another having a class of 20 kids. Oh boy if you aren’t firm with them they will eat you for breakfast, and the problem with that is then you won’t be able to teach them anything, because they won’t be listening. They will be messing around, being too noisy and you’ll pass off as not being able to do your job. The class will not learn anything!
I think start strict, too strict, and you can always be more lenient. But if you start too lenient then you can lose the respect of the pupils. One doesn’t have to yell to be strict, but you should be firm and mean business, and tell kids off who don’t behave. Follow all my discipline tips because they work. Click here to read more specific tips on discipline in this blog post. Using one of my fun games books will help keep a focused classroom since children will be enjoying your lessons more, and hence will be less likely to behave destructively.
The teacher's feedback
‘Many thanks for your helpful tips in response to my email earlier this year about discipline problems. I feel things are improving and I am now more confident about insisting on excellent behaviour all the time. If only I had found your materials before I started, as I’m sure it would’ve been easier to start strict and then ease up a little!’ Kristina Maki, ESL teacher in Italy.