This is something that many newbies struggle with. How to manage a class, especially if there are more than 20 students.
You may have come straight from the hagwon with five students! So, what do you do? Here are a few tips.
Class Management Strategy: High-Level Uni in Busan
These past 3 years, I’ve been working at a higher-ranked university in Busan, so that even the worst students are actually not that bad. The only thing I’ve had to do for “discipline” is have a little talk during or after class to a few students that goes something like, “Hey, when you talk to your friend all the time, it really is hard for the people who want to learn to learn.” And the students always say, “Oh! Teacher, I’m sorry.” Then, they are usually well behaved for the rest of the course.
Classroom Management Strategy: Low-Level Uni in the Rice Paddies
However, I did work in a low-level university for 5 years that was out in the countryside, way South of Seoul. The bad students were pretty terrible and often had absolutely no interest whatsoever in English which was sometimes reflected in their behavior. So, I had to implement a bit more radical of a system than just having a “talk” with the student like I do now.
Classroom Management Strategy #1: Positive Reinforcement
In my classroom, I try to only deal in positive behavior because I think that 98% of my attention should be given to the people who are genuinely trying to learn. And of course the challenge is to engage everyone, so that 100% of the class wants to be there and learn English in a productive, cooperative kind of way. I do this mainly through my reward/motivational system that I use.
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Classroom Management Strategy #2: 3 Strikes, You’re Out
However, there are times that this fails and I’m forced to pay attention to disruptive people. I hate doing this but sometimes it just can’t be avoided if someone is particularly disruptive.
Strike 1: I’ll give a verbal warning in front of the whole class. “Min-Gyu, you cannot talk when your classmate is talking! That is strike 1.”
Strike 2: The second one is usually given personally. I’ll walk over to the student after an activity has started, “Min-Gyu, you need to stop talking on your phone in English class. That is strike 2, next time you have to leave.”
Strike #3: “Min-Gyu, goodbye. See you next week.” Then I wait for him to leave.
Why I Like this System
I like the 3 strikes because almost nobody gets to 3, even kids. In fact, most people calm down and act appropriately after the first warning. After the second one, students get the seriousness of it and usually feel quite bad about it and most of them apologize to me after class.
During my 10 years in Korea, teaching both kids and adults, I’ve probably only gotten to strike 3 less than a handful of times. Anyway, if you’re struggling to find a discipline strategy for your classes, try it out and see if it works for you.
What’s your Classroom Management System?
Do you use one for your English classes in Korea? Leave a comment below and let us know.