How to keep discipline in a language classroom?
The issue of discipline has been discussed by many researchers and a lot of ideas has been presented on the phenomena. However, the list is not limited and every teacher will face the problem from time to time. Therefore, in this short article some interesting ideas about keeping discipline in the classroom will be pointed out.
Discipline is a very important factor in every lesson. It is “training that makes people more willing to obey or more able to control themselves, often in the form of rules, and punishments if these are broken, or the behaviour produced by this training1”. In educational meaning, a better option is be a short and simple idea indicating that discipline is “the ability to control yourself or other people, even in diffi cult situations2”. To start with, it is very important to think about introducing some ground rules and discuss them with students. Those rules need to be applied both to the teacher(s) and students throughout the whole year. It is crucial to discuss the issues of assigning homework, bigger projects, tests, lack of homework, being late for lessons, interrupting others and some additional issues. Once those rules are set, the teacher needs to follow them and apply them every time – without any exceptions. With young learners, the teacher may adjust some rules to their age and later pupils can ‘sign’ by the footprint or some small drawing.
Dos and don’ts
Nonetheless, when talking about the discipline, some general types of tips need to beconsidered. They would be helpful when facing problems with students’ behaviour. What should you do?
- Get to know your students,
- be prepared with some extra exercises for early fi nishers,
- introduce and keep the class contract,
- motivate your students in a nice way,for instance, by giving them one,
- plan your lesson in advance,
- include funny breaks and nice intervals,
- keep motivation as the same level.
On the other hand, teachers have some certain don’ts:
- don’t shout – you won’t achieve anything and your vocal chords will be devastated,
- don’t use high-pitched tones,
- don’t let your students remonstrate,
- don’t be late, start the classes on time.
|Non-verbal techniques||Verbal techniques|
|Use a low voice to interest students in the lesson, using higher pitch will only make them angry||Use the name of an undisciplined student while speaking: ‘This is the most important thing – yes, Robert, this is very important to know’|
|Use a special gesture like nodding the head, waving hands to indicate that you are aware of the noise in the classroom||Change the pace of the lesson completely by assigning a new kind of task like chanting or practising tongue twisters|
|Use some eye contact with obstructive student(s) when possible||Request students to summarise in short|
words the topic of the lesson or the
Good techniques to use
If students do not follow the plan during the lesson, teachers may try to use some non-verbal techniques. They will be useful once you stop commenting on the students’ behaviour so much. Therefore, teachers may use some of the techniques presented below.
Tips depending on the students’ age
It is important to solve the discipline problems in accordance with students’ characteristics. Owing to the fact that the target groups are young pupils, it is crucial to remember about having a great number of short warm-up/cool-down activities, a wide range of vocabulary games that enable children to feel motivated without being competitive, and using different teaching methods within one lesson, like drawing, singing, dancing, miming etc. In a group of older children (12-15 years old) other rules need to be applied. Those learners wouldn’t be eager to draw, they wouldn’t like to do cut-outs. On the other hand, they are not ready to behave like teenagers and stay calm throughout the whole lesson. Because of that, teachers have to plan every lesson carefully, not only to omit the silent intervals but to attract the students as well.
Older teenagers are even more challenging when it comes to discipline keeping because they are so diff erent. Some of them may act almost as adults whereas some may still play tricks. Here, the peer pressure is even more visible and they try to show off more often. Dealing with those factors, teachers have to act so students respect them, have to look very competent, and stay impartial in the face of many issues. To conclude, even if the students won’t meet the teacher’s expectations all the time, when dealing with discipline problems, teachers are obliged to stay calm and carry on. The best tip is to be prepared and not give up. Sometimes it is better to give students some time to settle down than to rush. Only then will they achieve our long-term goals.
Hanna Komorowska, Metodyka nauczania języków obcych, Fraszka Edukacja, Warszawa 2005.