When you are confronted with a class of thirty-odd students in a single ESL lesson, the prospect of classroom management can be a little daunting.
In classes this large, there are two types of classroom management that you need to deal with: the first is maintaining the behavior and interest of the class as a whole, and the second is dealing with disruptive students.
It is important to have systems in place to manage whole-class behavior before you enter the classroom.
The first thing you need to be aware of is the lesson plan and content; if the lesson material is not appropriate to the students’ level, then they will likely get bored (if the content is too easy) or distracted (if the content is too difficult) and will therefore start to act out.
To avoid this, assess the students’ levels in the first lesson and create engaging and level-appropriate material to keep them focused on the tasks so they are not misbehaving.
Incentive Scheme – Classroom Management Hong Kong
Another way to manage the behavior of a large class is to provide an incentive scheme so that students are rewarded for positive behavior.
For example, have the class divided into groups so that when they answer questions they can earn points for their group. At the end of the lesson/week/month etc., the group with the most points can get a prize.
This kind of incentive scheme not only encourages good behavior but also encourages teamwork and whole-class cooperation.
Silence Cues – Teaching Large Classes in Hong Kong
Finally, in order to regain control in a rowdy classroom, it is often necessary to implement physical silence cues.
Some such examples are having students place their hands on their heads before they can answer a question, using a clap that students must repeat after you, saying “one, two, three, eyes on me,” and having students respond with “one, two, eyes on you,” or silently counting down from ten on your fingers and rewarding students who are ready at the end of the countdown.
Physical cues are especially useful with younger students as they find them fun and engaging and are thus eager to participate.
While these whole-class management techniques will help with the majority of students, there are sometimes disruptive individuals who may require more attention in the classroom. These students are usually either very high or very low ability and act out because they aren’t following the lesson.
If you have extra planning time, it could be beneficial to their behavior to create lesson material specific to them and the learning level that can be given to them individually to keep them engaged.
Alternatively, giving disruptive students a role of responsibility (such as a teacher’s helper or a group leader) often drastically improves their behavior as they feel like they are doing something important.
Finally, it is extremely important to get to know your students outside of the classroom; if you get to know your students on an individual level you will create a sense of mutual respect and they will be much more likely to cooperate with you and follow your instructions in the classroom.