Classroom ManagementIn the 1970’s, classroom management was by definition separate from classroom instruction. This view held that a teacher first dealt with management issues before beginning instruction. In the early 1980’s this view began to change. Classroom management and instruction are now seen as “inextricably interwoven and complex (Everstone, 1).” It follows that in the TEFL classroom, where interaction and speaking are indispensable, the old definition of classroom management, “achieving class control and order” through discipline and punishment, should no longer be implemented (Doyle,1979) (Professor, Fan Yi, 2). Control should shift to a classroom management style that creates a learning conducive environment where the student’s anxieties are relieved, they are motivated by necessity to communicate and fluency is promoted over accuracy. This can be achieved by creating a relaxing environment where punishment is the last resort and preemptive action is taken through relationship building with the students and strategic movement of the teacher throughout the lesson is applied
The majority of the time, the TEFL teacher is in a situation where his/her students only opportunity to use english is in the classroom. This puts the students in a limited position because learning a language is best done though “the actual use of the language” (Chomsky, 1959) (Professor, Fan Yi, 2). For this reason the TEFL classroom needs to be a place where students feel motivated, where they receive personal attention in student-centered activities and where they can relax and not be fearful of making mistakes.
The motivation of the students rests on the teacher’s shoulders. To motivate students the teacher needs to create a necessity for communication. If students feel a strong urge to communicate they will implement the target language spontaneously without regard for accuracy or fear of making mistakes. Challenging the students is an effective way of accomplishing this. However, it should be noted that making a lesson overly challenging can make students feel that their communicating skill are inefficient. This will make them withdraw. Make the lesson challenging to the point where the students feel absorbed in the material, not to the point where they feel overwhelmed by it. “Fantana (1985) points out that “a class that is absorbed in its work will not want to cause trouble. (Professor, Fan Yi, 2)”” Lesson plans should include interesting, engaging activities that absorb the student’s attention and make use of their interests through student-centered management.
Having student-centered lessons will provide students with the opportunity they need to use both the target language and create their own ideas. No student will take chances with a new language if he/she is fearful of making a mistake or is over come by anxiety. Therefore, in order to achieve strong motivation and successful student-centered activities, the teacher must create an effective, comfortable learning environment where the students can express themselves. To do this the teacher should actively build their student’s confidence and self-esteem through praise and encouragement. Language is a personal expression and if the teacher is critical each time a student makes a mistake he/she will develop anxiety and no longer actively participate; but, instead, will retreat within himself/herself and treat english as a knowledge gather exercise. When the students feel scared or anxious they do not learn as well. This can happen if the teacher is too critical of the student's mistakes. As it turns out making mistakes is part of the learning process.
Making mistakes is part of the learning process in every aspect of life. Language learning is no different. That is why it is important for teachers to focus on fluency prior to accuracy. “The teacher should not always act as a severe judge and put learners constantly in fear of making mistakes (Professor, Fan Yi, 2).” A teacher that stresses accuracy and formalized speech will have students that struggle to articulate their ideas. Accuracy will integrate itself into a working fluency, not the other way around.
Achieving fluency in a TEFL classroom requires constant practice because, as stated earlier, the classroom is the student’s sole english laboratory. Constant practice mean constant noise. EFL classes are generally very noisy. But they still need discipline. The question is how to achieve discipline without creating anxiety which cripples the learning process.
Don't discipline through threats. This creates the anxiety we want to avoid: “A person with low self-esteem generally exhibits anxiety, hesitancy and a tendency to withdraw from communicating with others ( Wang, 1985) (Professor, Fan Yi, 2).” For this reason we must discipline through the students. An effective strategy for disciplining through the students goes along with what was said earlier about creating an environment conducive to learning. A teacher should “give prompt encouragement” to build up the students self-esteem and keep them confident in their role as an active participant in the classroom. Professor FanYi states: “When the students are encouraged, they tend to be more involved in classroom activities and cause less trouble in class.” This is a preemptive strategy that aims to lessen the chances of disruption as apposed to reacting to disruption with threats and punishments. If one student is punished, the whole class is punished through the diminishing of the learning environment with fear of being punished.
Another pre-emptive strategy is “teaching on the move (Professor, Fan Yi, 2).” The students who sit the furthest away from the teacher are the student who are least interested in the material and the most likely to cause disruption. Therefore, if the teacher stays on the move, he/she can close the physical distance between himself/herself and these students and lessen the chances of a disturbance. The physical presents of the teacher at a close proximity will deter the student from being disruptive and the teacher will not have to resort to punishment.
Punishment should be the teacher’s “last method” for obtaining order in the classroom (Professor, Fan Yi, 2). If you punish one student you punish them all by instilling fear and anxiety in the students who are otherwise carefree. Threatening the students with punishments is a risky course of action that should be avoided. Eventually the student is going to call the teacher out and force him/her to follow through. At this point the teacher must follow through to maintain authority; however, he/she runs the risk of humiliating the student in the eyes of his/her peers. The student may then become more aggressive and actively seek to under mind the teacher to regain his/her standing with his/her peers. At this point “the trust between the teacher and the student dies (Professor, Fan Yi, 2).” It is best to use verbal rebukes and to contact the parents about the student’s behavior. This way the hard work it took to establish a learning conducive environment will not go to waist.
In order to create a learning conducive environment it is important to shift control to a classroom management style that creates a learning conducive environment where the student’s anxieties are relieved, they are motivated by necessity to communicate and fluency is promoted over accuracy. Creating such an environment through an interweaving of classroom management and instruction is vital to the student’s achievement. After all, "from the perspective of what students need to know in order to be successful, management and instruction cannot be separated (Everstone, 1)." Students view the information being provided through the lens of the teacher’s management decisions. Therefore, the students with the greatest vision will be the ones whose teacher provided the best prescription.
1. Everstone: Classroom Management: Creating a Learning Environment, Setting Expectations, Motivational Climate, Maintaining a Learning Environment, When Problems Occur. http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1834/Classroom-Management.html
2. Professor Fan Yi: EFL Classroom Management: Creating a Positive Climate for Learning. http://wlkc.nbu.edu.cn/jpkc_nbu/daxueyingyu/download/013.pdf
3. With a general reference to: Unit 5: Classroom Management- Introduction. From ITTT TEFL Course.