There’s a room with tables and chairs, a board, students and you. You have a book, a pen and various technologies at your disposal. It’s up to you how you spend the next hour. Many decisions will have to have been taken earlier because they are crucial to how the actual lesson goes. Here are some questions to ponder.
1. Who goes into the classroom first?
If the teacher is already there, she can welcome the students and control where they sit. If the students are there first, there may be a noisy atmosphere which the teacher has to deal with before the lesson starts.
2. How do you start the lesson?
You may like to have a routine such as all students stand up and are silent when you go into the class. You do not start anything until they are all silently standing and are attentive. Part of the routine may be that students have their books and pencil cases on their desks with their bags on the floor ready before you enter.
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3. Where do students sit?
Can they all see the board? Can they see you? Does the sun shine in the students’ eyes or on the board?
Do students sit in rows or around tables? Do you let them sit where they like, seat them alphabetically or change the seating arrangements so students have turns being in the front?
4. What are the rules?
Children like structure. Raise hands if you want to speak. Speak English in the classroom. If you’re late, come in and go quietly to your seat.
5. How do I view a lesson?
Is it like a symphony / birthday party / football game / meal / shopping with a friend / medical consultation / chat? All these are collaborative enterprises, as is a lesson. You have different roles: conductor, organizer, and referee. You plan the menu, select the recipe and give your guests a choice and variety of experiences in a certain order. You and the students pick out and try on what fits and suits you; you advise and provide opportunities for free, improvised speech.
6. What do I do in a lesson?
You have your lesson aim. Your coursebook tells you so. The lesson plan should have a variety of activities and ways for students to get involved in learning. They can be quiet (reading / writing) alone, noisily talking in pairs or groups; they can repeat the teacher or write a dictation as a class or give their own presentations on a topic. Many lessons may follow this format:
* Check homework
* Present new language
* Practice language
* Produce language
* Set homework
Always put yourself in students’ shoes. They should always know what they are supposed to be doing at any particular time in a lesson. You can be the focus of attention or go around helping groups depending on the activity.
7. How do I project myself?
You’ve just had a row with your boss / partner/ child. You’ve been called in last minute to take over a missing colleague’s class. You don’t feel well. Unless your classes are adults with which you feel it’s ok to share personal events and feelings, you have to be seen to be in charge. You are confident in your knowledge and ability to handle your class. Leave personal issues in the classroom door.
There are endless classroom management tips. But there must be a place to start from!