Tips on classroom management
When I first started out teaching children I never bothered explaining any ground rules naively thinking that my bubbly personality and incredibly interactive ESL drama games could win over even the most undisciplined child …little did I know!!
After one very boisterous 7 year old created havoc in one of my lessons, ruining the enjoyment of others and almost giving me a nervous breakdown, I soon started thinking of better ways I could manage myself and my class.
Classroom ground rules are extremely useful when using ESL Drama especially when many children are up and moving around together. They really can make a huge difference to the whole atmosphere of the lesson, prevent any child getting over excited and losing focus or maybe even unintentionally harming another child , they encourage group collaboration and above all give you more control of each exercise without struggling to be heard.
I learned the hard way….I recommend you avoid it!!
It is important for the children to understand that drama is of enormous fun for everyone but it is structured fun.
Just as football is more fun if everyone follows the rules, ESL Drama is more fun if everyone follows the rules.
Here are a few initial suggestions for classroom rules:
1. Try to go to the bathroom before the lesson. (obvious one but , when you’re in the middle of a group or pair activity it can become an extra disruption with children trotting off to the bathroom – although it often can’t be avoidedJ)
2. Always listen carefully and follow the rules of any game or activity.
3. When you hear the drum beat “freeze” (this one I’ve found very useful in getting the whole class focused and listening in an instant. I personally use a drum but you can also use another loud instrument or even a whistle. When you beat the drum once the children stop whatever they’re doing and “freeze” like ice statues which children love! 2 drum beats indicates the children to quickly and silently form a circle. )
4. Always raise your hand, and wait to be invited before speaking (avoids unnecessary noise and keeps children focused and encourages listening and respecting others children’s’ opinions)
The following rules are can be added on for older children 7-10 year olds:
5. NEVER, EVER intentionally hurt someone else. This means no hitting or pushing but it also means no name-calling or teasing. A Drama lesson can only work if everyone feels safe.
6. Everyone is responsible for his own actions. Just because someone else does something wrong does not give you permission to make things worse by doing the same thing. “He did it, too,” is never an excuse.
7. If you don’t want to play …then sit and watch. (With ESL Drama occasionally some children will react differently to a particular game or activity. Try never to force anyone to participate especially if you see they are uncomfortable about joining in as this could block their spontaneity and fun with other games. With my private groups I suggest that children may sit at the side and watch quietly (without disrupting the rest of the class) if they really do not want join in a game. Saying this I very rarely see anyone taking up the offer.)
In one of my next tip posts I will be talking about some great ways of motivating your children using “rewards” …with no chocolate treats anywhere to be seenJ