How do you maintain discipline in the ESL classroom?

Maintaining discipline in the ESL classroom is crucial for effective teaching and learning. Drawing from common experiences in school, it is evident that discipline is often rooted in the student-teacher relationship. Here are key strategies to ensure discipline:

  • Demonstrate Respect:Always show respect towards students in every interaction. This mutual respect fosters a positive learning environment and encourages students to reciprocate respect.
  • Preparation and Organization: Be thoroughly prepared for each lesson with appropriate materials and activities. A well-structured class reduces idle time and keeps students engaged, minimizing disruptive behavior.
  • Punctuality and Consistency: Adhere to start and end times of lessons. Consistency in timing establishes a routine and sets clear expectations for students.
  • Fairness in Interaction: Ensure fairness in dealing with all students. This includes equal opportunities for participation and unbiased responses to their inputs.
  • Avoid Empty Threats: Refrain from making threats or promises that you cannot or will not follow through. This maintains your credibility and students' trust in you.
  • Enthusiasm in Teaching: Display enthusiasm in teaching. Your passion can be contagious, inspiring students to participate actively and behave appropriately.

By incorporating these strategies, teachers can create a disciplined and conducive learning environment in the ESL classroom. Discipline is not just about managing behavior but also about creating an atmosphere where students feel valued, engaged, and motivated to learn.

A further consideration here in terms of discipline is how you respond to problem behavior. Your responses to any bad behavior will have great bearing as to whether the problem is going to increase or decrease. There are a few simple things to remember in terms of your responses to problem behavior:

  • Whenever a potential discipline problem occurs, it is very important that you act immediately before the problem can get worse. If you act immediately the chances are a simple action is all that will be needed.
  • It is very important that you always keep calm and you never shout at the students. You must maintain control of yourself if you are going to keep control of the classroom.
  • Always keep within the school discipline code and make yourself aware of what that discipline code actually says. If you act outside of the code you are liable to disciplinary procedures yourself.
  • People's ideas of discipline problems will be different in terms of what a problem within the class is and what is not. However, where possible we should try to use nonverbal techniques first. If, for example, two students are talking to each other while you are talking then just stop. If you then focus your attention on the people talking it is very unlikely that they are going to continue to do so. Without saying anything and using nonverbal techniques we can avoid this type of behavior.
  • Try wherever possible, to use humor to anticipate discipline problems.

It would be very nice if we could just give a list of things that you would need to do in order for you to never have any discipline problems during your teaching career. Most of your responses to discipline problems will be learned over time, you will find out what works and what does not work. If you keep these sorts of ideas in your mind, it does not mean that discipline problems won't exist, but these ideas can go some way to ensure that they shouldn't escalate.

Also read: How do you deal with misbehaving ESL students?