Effective classroom management is an essential skill for Young Learner (YL) teachers. This post provides some of my top tips for developing positive classroom management strategies that you can incorporate into your routine.
Every teacher knows that without strong classroom management none of the wonderful activities we plan work out. Lesson aims go out the window, teaching becomes difficult and stress levels rise. You can very quickly find yourself losing motivation and spending more time telling kids off than helping them to learn and love English.
If you’ve ever found yourself in this situation, don’t worry. You’re not alone. During my research into the preparation of English teachers for the YL classroom, it was no surprise to discover that newly qualified teachers named classroom management as one of their biggest challenges. What I was surprised to discover however is that many teachers with 5+ years of experience said the same thing.
Here is a brief overview of some classroom management strategies I teach on my teacher training course for Young Learners.
Create the right learning environment!
Positive classroom management starts with creating the right learning environment. It’s important to build positive relationships not only between you and the children, but also among the children themselves. I’ve written about the importance of group dynamics lots of practical ideas here. I also highly recommend Juan Uribe’s post about affective classroom management.
Understanding Child Development
It takes more than a command of the English language to work successfully with children. As author Lynn Cameron says,a YL teacher is required to have not only a knowledge of the language and of language teaching and learning, but also “all the skills of the good primary teacher in managing children and keeping them on task”. Every Young Learner teacher benefits from knowing what you can expect from children of different ages. You can find an excellent break down of this on the onestopenglish website.
Establishing and following a regular classroom routine is absolutely vital in mainstream primary classrooms. Routines help children feel secure and sure of what is expected of them, even if they don’t understand everything you are saying at the beginning. It allows them to interpret the language from context and provides a space for language growth. This does not mean doing the same thing every day, but rather following a specific order of classroom events sothe learners have clear cues for what behaviour is expected of them (i.e. during circle time we can be noisy and jump around, but when we sit down at our desks it’s time to be quiet and concentrate).
There is only a certain length of time that I child can be expected to sit still. If the activity you have planned requires your students to still and focus for too long, you’ll soon find that you’ve lost their attention. At the same time, too many activities which are physically engaging can lead to problems too! Find a balance between activities which are cognitively engaging and will calm your class down – ‘settlers’ and ‘stirrers’ – activities which will get them up and moving. Here’s a link to a post with some great examples.
Developing as a Young Learner teacher takes time and dedication. If you’ve read up to here, you’re probably one of those teachers! Here are few last thoughts for you to keep in mind.
- Your students won’t always be angels.
- Learning to love the language is just as important at this stage as producing the language. Keep it fun!
- Kids have bad days. Learn to adjust your expectations accordingly.
- Teachers have bad days too! Be as kind and patient with yourself as you are with your students.
If you are a Young Learner teacher and would like to continue developing your skills, you can join me online for the Oxford TEFL Teaching Young Learners’ course. Contact me via my website and I’d be happy to send you more information.