Classroom management for young learners

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Classroom management refers to the ways in which student behaviour, movement and interaction during a lesson are organized and controlled by the teacher” Richards (1990, 10) .



Definition of Classroom Management

Classroom management refers to the ways in which student behaviour, movement and interaction during a lesson are organized and controlled by the teacher” Richards (1990, 10) .

Definition of Discipline

  • To maintain order and to keep the group on task and moving ahead, not to spot and punish those students who are misbehaving.“( Greenwood and Parkay, 1989)

The best teachers anticipate when misbehaviours are likely to occur and intervene early to prevent them. The most effective interventions are subtle, brief and almost private. They do not, therefore interfere with classroom activities.

  • Causes of deviant behaviour (Cole and Chan, 1987)

Class Rules

  • At the beginning of the school year, establish the class rules.
  • Discuss Classroom rules with the students and consequences of misbehavior.
  • Post room rules and consequences of misbehavior.

Students’ Seating

The way the students are seated in the classroom will often determine the dynamics of the lesson. Indeed, a simple change in the seating pattern can make an incredible difference to group coherence and student satisfaction.

In many cases the seating has been a crucial element in the success or failure of the lesson.
In some cases, the desks are fixed to the ground or the school has strict rules about not moving the furniture.

Student numbers are also going to be an issue.

Teachers have different preferences for seating arrangements – each group is seated round small tables is often one choice. This is probably the best option for the larger classes.

For smaller numbers and with adult or teenage students I think the horseshoe shape, which I find has all of the advantages of groups, and none of the disadvantages. A horseshoe may be desks in a U-shape with a hollow centre, students in a semicircle on chairs with arm-rests and no desks, or students seated around three sides of a large table, with the teacher at one end.

In any case, whatever seating pattern you choose or is imposed on you, the class is likely to be more successful if you keep the following principles in mind:

Try and maximize eye contact.

Make sure students are seated at a comfortable distance from each other.

Think in advance about how you will organize changing partners or changing groups.

Students’ Names

  • Make two sets of name tags – one for the child's table space or desk, and one for the child to wear around the neck to special classes.
  • Hang name tags on a hook by the door.
  • Make it private: call to desk, whisper, nonverbal cues.
  • Briefly talk to student/assess penalties.
  • Time out at desk or another room.
  • Communicate positive expectations to students: convey confidence in students’ ability to do well and maintain high expectations.

Teacher Talk & Drawing Attention

  • Don't speak when children aren't listening and ready. Wait.
  • Establish a signal for getting the group's attention:
  1. turn off the lights
  2. clap a pattern with your hands
  3. Say “Freeze!” and everyone halts right where they are, like a statue. Then say “Melt!” when you are ready for them to move again.
  • Practice numbers, in the beginning, even when children are doing well, just so they get the idea of how to respond to your signals. Then praise them.

Example: “One, two, three

eyes on me”

  • Establish good listening habits for story time. Sometimes we read and listen, and sometimes we read and discuss, but we always listen.

Giving Instruction

  • It is better to make your instructions for primary students precise and concise.
  • Use puppets to help with classroom management. Puppets can whisper in the teacher's ear, and they can write messages to the class.
  • Compliment leadership in students. "Oh, I like the way Antonio is ready!" will cause everyone to turn to look at the ready student and to get ready also.
  • Use the same standards for everyone – no favorites!

Using Pair and Groupwork

  • One of the successful ways, if the teacher is resourceful and skilful enough, to motivate his/her students to participate in the lesson is to use “pair work” or “Group work” appropriately.

Language is best learned through the close collaboration and communication among students. This type of collaboration results in benefits for all or both learners. In fact, learners can help each other while working on different types of tasks such as writing dialogues, interviews, drawing pictures and making comments about them, play roles, etc…

Setting Time Limits

1) You should set time to each activity when you are planning your lesson so that you would know if you would be able to finish your objectives or not.

2) You should tell your students about the time assigned for each activity when you give them a task to do in class.

3) Your students should gradually be aware of the importance of the time issue and respect it.

Role Play

  • This is a technique to vary the pace of the lesson and to respond to the fundamental notion of variety in teaching. Teachers are advised to use the role- play activity in order to motivate their students and to help the less motivated learners take part in the lesson. Besides, certain tasks in the student’s book are followed by a role- play activity where it becomes a necessity to undergo such an activity. As good examples of that we can state: the hide (item) and guessing game, dramatizing an interview of customer and shop assistant, doctor and patient conversation, etc…

Tasks for Early Finishers

  • This especially happens when students finish an assignment while other students are still working on it. That’s why you need to include an “early finisher” activity with every assignment.
  • Think in advance for possible activities, options including extension activities related to the current topic, journal writing, silent reading, and educational games

Whole Class Feedback

  • Take a look at the following classroom exchange:

Whole class: He bought a sandwich. (Sea of noise in which the teacher hears the answer)
Teacher: And number 4?
Whole class: He drank orange juice. (Sea of noise in which the teacher hears the answer)

  • Sound familiar? How many times have you done feedback like this? Probably many. Why do we fall into the pattern of getting feedback in this way? Is it the easiest way? The quickest?
  • I began to realize that generally it was only the stronger or the more confident students who would shout out the answers. When I looked at individual student’s work, I saw that they didn’t always have the correct answer and, more importantly, they didn’t know what the correct answer was.
  • Feedback is better checked through each student’s response on a written form paper.

Using Whiteboard

Make sure students easily see the board.

Have your lesson objectives clear for your students. Write them on the board or get the kids to know them at the beginning – by the end of this lesson I will have learned……

These clear objectives provide a guide to what you want to achieve and can be the basis of the lesson structure. A map on the board can help to show the kids where you are going with the lesson.





Cole and Chan ( 1987), cited by Gary Sturt

Elementary Classroom Management Survival Tips

Emmer, Edmund & Evertson, Carolyn, Teach a Book: Classroom Management forMiddle and High School Teachers, PowerPoint presentation.

Greenwood and Parkay (1989), cited by Gary Sturt

One stop english

Richards (1990, 10), cited in Encyclopedic Dictionary of Applied Linguistics, edited by Keith Johnson and Helen Johnson.

Prepared by Noamen Amara