10 Classroom Management Techniques

Plans are nothing; planning is everything. -Dwight Eisenhower

I was recently asked by a fellow teacher, what were some of the techniques that I use to manage my class. I shared some of the strategies that I employ, then thought I’d post them for other teachers to benefit as well.

To survive and be effective in the classroom, especially for English teachers who are not allowed to discipline students, it is essential to plan your lessons properly and practice good classroom management skills. Bear in mind that an average class size is about 35 students. ESL is all about fun and engaging lessons that consist of games, activities and songs, and if you are not careful, classes can get chaotic and out of control quickly and easily. This is more so at the elementary and kindergarten levels and to a lesser extent at the secondary level.

Below, are some of the classroom management techniques I have used that have resulted in varying degrees of success:-

  1. Expectations. It is important to set out your expectations of the class/students from day one. If they are big enough, they can also help in formulating the expectation/rules of the class. Students will thus have a vested interest in following the rules and ensuring that you and their fellow classmates adhere to the rules.
  2. This is an extension of number 1. Stick to the rules, no matter what. And no partiality or favoritism. A loophole here or there, no matter how small, will undermine your credibility. Moreover, you will lose their respect, trust and support.
  3. Monitoring/walking around the classroom. Don’t just stand at the front of the class for the entire period. Walk around. Keep the students guessing where you will be next.
  4. Change the pattern/format of the lesson. While structure is important, it is also important to keep the lessons interesting. An element of surprise goes along way in maintaining students’ interest.
  5. Silence. When the class has gotten very loud and rowdy, stop talking and wait on the students to become quiet. Don’t waste your voice and energy shouting at them be quiet. They will stop what they are doing to see why it is that you stopped talking, hereby gaining their attention. Additionally, the students who are paying attention, will assist in getting the noisy students to stop talking and pay attention.
  6. Modelling. This is a no brainer. Behave the way you want your students to behave. For example, dressing appropriately, having a good attitude, being on time, prepared, polite, saying thank you, excuse me, sorry etc.
  7. Count down method using numbers, rhythm or hand claps. For the smaller students index finger on the lips and opposite fist raised in the air is very effective. I also use 2 mins of silence. I bet the students to be quiet for 2 mins using a stop watch. If there are outbursts and/or noises during the 2 mins, I add an additional minute. And I am the winner. If they are perfectly quiet in the 2 mins, they win, and I lose.
  8. Points system. Points are given to rows/groups or boys/girls, etc, who are not listening, paying attention or following instructions. When it is time for the game, points are added and then deducted from the total game time. Students enjoy playing the games and do not want to shorten their game time, so they will try to be good so that they can have a long time playing the game. Additionally, the points system can also be used to give awards/prizes at the end of month, semester, school year, etc.
  9. Have students lead out in some of the activities/class segments. Or ask the hyperactive, talkative or mischievous students to be your assistant for the duration of the class.
  10. Change the format of the lesson plan sometimes. Do something different. For example have an English cooking class in the kitchen, or nature walk outdoors etc.

Please note that every school and class is different. As a teacher, you will need to know your class/students, and have an idea of what will work, or not work. If the class is a new class, try different techniques until you find one, or some that work. What are some of the strategies/techniques that you use in the classroom?

That’s it folks. Thanks for reading!