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10 Common Classroom Problems 1.

Students become overly dependent on teacher Many times, students will automatically look to the teacher for correct answers instead of trying themselves. If the teacher obliges them with the answer each time, it can become a detrimental problem. Instead, focus on giving positive encouragement to students. This will help to make students more comfortable and more willing to answer (even if incorrectly). 2. Persistent use of first-language When teaching English as a foreign language, this is possibly the most common problem. As an ESL teacher, it's important to encourage students to use English, and only English. However, if students begin conversing in their first language, move closer to the student. Ask them direct questions like "do you have a question?" Another idea is to establish a set of class rules and develop a penalty system for when they use their first-language. For example: if a student is caught using their first-language three times, have them recite a poem in front of the class (in English). Remember, for the 1-2 hours they are in English class, it must be English only. 3. Student is defiant, rowdy, or distracting of others This will happen, no matter what, in every classroom. If the entire class is acting up, it may be the fault of the teacher ie. boring material or poor classroom management. If it one particular student, you should react swiftly to show dominance. In order to resolve the issue, an ESL teacher must be strict and discipline the student if needed. If it continues to happen, further disciplinary action through the school's director could be pursued. 4. Students "hijack lesson" - The lesson doesn't go where you want it to When teaching English as a foreign language, you can always count on students hijacking a lesson. To some extent, this can be a good thing. It shows that students interest, and as long as they are participating and conversing in English, it is a productive experience. However, if the lesson strays too far off topic, in a direction you don't want it to go, it's important to correct the problem by diverting the conversation. 5. Personalities between students clash Not every student in an ESL classroom will become best of friends. If drama arises between certain students, the easiest solution is to seperate them away from one another. If the tension persists, switching a student to another classroom may be your only option. 6. Students unclear what do to, or do the wrong thing This happens far too often when teaching English as a foreign language. The fact is, it's often the fault of the teacher. If your instructions to an assignment yield looks of confusion and soft whispers among students, don't worry, there is a solution. In order to avoid this problem, it's important to make sure your instruction are clear. Use gestures, mime, and short concise sentences. Speak clear and strong. Most importantly, use models and examples of the activity. You can use pictures, miming, gestures etc. to model the entire activity exactly how you want the students to do it. 7. Students are bored, inattentive, or unmotivated Many times, it is the teachers fault that class is boring. Fortunately, with proper planning, this problem can be solved. Choose a juicy theme to the lesson; one that the students can relate to and one you know they will enjoy. This will automaticaly give them some motivation and interest. Get to know your students and identify their interests and needs, then design your course accordingly.

8. Strong student dominance As an ESL teacher, you will encounter students of different learning capabilities and language skills. While it is good to have some students who excel in the classroom, it is important that they don't take away from others. If certain students begin to constantly "steal the show," take warning. Focus on calling on weaker students in the class to answer questions. Encourage, but gently deflect some answers from the strong students and give production time to other not-so-strong members of the class. 9. Students are unprepared The last thing you want as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, teacher is for students to drop out simply because they felt lost and/or unprepared. Concentrate on a more shared learning experience. Make sure students are all on the same page before moving onto a new topic by concept checking multiple times, and encouraging individual participation. 10. Tardiness Even I have a hard time arriving places on time. But the truth is, tardiness is not only rude, it can be distracting and disruptive of other students. If tardiness becomes a problem for your students, make sure they are disciplined. Set rules about tardiness and penalties for breaking them. Bullies According to Love Our Children USA, "Bullying is one of the most minimized and persistent problems in our schools today. " Bullying is unrelenting physical, verbal and emotional harm imposed on one pupil by another. To prevent bullying in the elementary school classroom, educators must remain keenly aware of all pupil-topupil interactions in the classroom and on the playground. When an incident of bullying is discovered, it should be dealt with immediately. Boredom A pupil may face boredom for a variety of reasons in the elementary classroom. If material is taught in a mundane, static manner, pupils will disengage with the information and become prone to distractions. A pupil may also face boredom if she isn't being properly challenged by the material. Teachers should make sure their curriculum is not too easy for any of their pupils and teach it in a way that engages their interest. Confusion Pupils may face confusion and subsequent frustration when learning new material in the elementary school classroom. Whether a pupil misses a day of school or simply doesn't comprehend the material as quickly as her peers, she may feel left behind and unable to catch up. Any group of pupils includes those with a variety of preferred learning styles. Teaching material in a way that doesn't "click" with a pupil will cause confusion. Teachers can avoid causing confusion and frustration in their pupils by frequently checking in on their comprehension and teaching in a way that accommodates a variety of learning styles. Embarassment Children may face embarrassment for a number of reasons that occur in the elementary classroom. If a teacher publicly reprimands a pupil in a way that is harsh, sarcastic or hurtful, the pupil may be embarrassed and feel stupid in front of his peers. Pupils may also become embarrassed when unfavorable elements of their family life bleed into their school reputation. For example, if a pupil comes from a poor family, her tattered clothing may give it away and cause embarrassment. Teachers can avoid pupils' embarrassment by fostering an environment of mutual respect among pupils and educators.

Dr. Ken Shore's Classroom Problem Solver Tactics to Prevent Cheating

Although cheating is a bigger concern with middle and high school students, it is not uncommon among elementary school children. The pressure to do well in school that often gives rise to cheating among older students also can affect younger children. Elementary school teachers, therefore, play a key role in conveying the importance of honesty in school and helping students learn to take pride in their own work. To that end, it is important to make sure that younger students understand what cheating is, especially those students who are used to working in collaborative groups. Students who are accustomed to working together and sharing information might not fully understand that it is inappropriate to copy the work of others when working independently. This week's column discusses the steps you can take to prevent student cheating. Next week, we will focus on what to do about a student who has cheated.


Talk with students about cheating. Begin by explaining your policy about cheating and the consequences of cheating in your classroom. Encourage students to discuss the issue by asking how they feel when they earn a good grade by studying hard and how they feel when they get a good grade by copying the answers from someone else. Ask why students might cheat and how they would feel if they found out one of their heroes had cheated. As you discuss the consequences of cheating, you might also point out that students who copy answers might be copying the wrong answers. Let them know that if they are tempted to cheat because they're having a problem with a subject, you are available to provide extra help. Explain the rules before giving a test. You might, for example, tell students to clear their desks, face forward, keep their eyes on their own paper, and remain seated and silent until the test is over. Remind them of the consequences for cheating. Consider posting those rules in the classroom. Change the room arrangement to minimize opportunities to cheat. Have students move their desks further apart when taking a test. You also might have them place simple barriers -- perhaps file folders -- on their desks to prevent their classmates from seeing their test papers. Give students different versions of the same test. Creating different versions of the same test is easy with a computer. You don't have to change the questions on the alternate versions, just the order of the questions. Telling students you are doing this will discourage them from cheating. You don't even have to create different versions of the test to achieve the deterrent effect. Just label the tests Version A, Version B, and Version C, or run off the test on two or three different colored papers, so students think there are different versions of the test. Have students explain their work. Tests that require students to explain their answers, either by showing the steps used to solve a math problem or by explaining the reasoning behind a response, minimize cheating. Those open-ended tests also allow you to give partial credit for students who use a correct process or demonstrate some understanding of the issue even if the final answer is incorrect. Monitor students from the back of the room. Students are less likely to glance at a classmate's paper if they think you might be watching. Try circulating throughout the room, passing students in an unpredictable pattern, while being sure to walk past more frequently past those students who have a history of cheating.

Dr. Ken Shore's Classroom Problem Solver School Assemblies

Poor behavior by one of your students during an assembly can present an awkward situation. You might feel embarrassed that your student is the culprit. You also might feel self-conscious if you perceive that the principal and other teachers are watching to see how you handle the problem. Your challenge is to respond in a way that does not draw attention to yourself or to your student, but allows other students to enjoy a disruption-free program. Your goal is to discipline the misbehaving student while leaving his dignity intact.


Conduct a lesson in assembly protocol. Before the first assembly of the school year, discuss with students how to behave during an assembly. That is especially important with younger students. Let students know that you expect them to walk to the assembly quietly and in single file, to sit with their own class, to remain quiet during the assembly, and to leave the assembly in an organized manner. With younger children or special education students, you might practice good assembly behavior. Keep downtime to a minimum. If you are responsible for the assembly program, try to begin as soon as possible after all students have arrived. The more unstructured time students have, the more likely they are to present problems. If using audio-visual equipment, make sure it is set up and ready to go before students arrive. Insist on quiet before beginning. Tell students that the program cannot begin until everyone is quiet and seated. After they quiet down, you might engage students in a unifying activity -- such as singing a song -- before starting the program. Stay near your students. Rather than standing in the rear with other teachers, sit or stand near your class. You might position yourself near a student who has difficulty controlling himself; your proximity might be enough to keep him under control. If necessary, circulate to make your presence known and to observe your class so you can signal those who misbehave. Signal students non-verbally. If you anticipate a student might have self-control problems during the assembly, establish a non-verbal signal that you can use to indicate that he needs to quiet down or focus on the program. You might offer a choice of signals and have him select the one he wants you to use. You might, for example, make eye contact, put your finger to your lips, raise your eyebrows, wink, or touch his shoulder. Give a student prone to misbehavior a job. If one of your students tends to misbehave, consider giving him a task to do during the assembly. You might have him set up chairs, hand out programs, lead classes to their seats, or assist the person in charge of the assembly. The job might not only occupy the student's attention during the assembly, but also boost his self-esteem so he feels less inclined to act in a disruptive manner.

Dr. Ken Shore's Classroom Problem Solver Toileting Accidents

Teachers are sometimes called on to deal with issues that fall outside the scope of education. Toileting is one of those issue. You might have a student who wets or soils herself in school. That behavior can be a source of embarrassment and distress to the student, as well as a disruption to your class if other students become aware of the problem. This is not an issue you can ignore, especially if it gives rise to ridicule and rejection from peers. In responding to a child with a bladder- or bowel-control problem, it is critical that you be sensitive to her emotional well-being, and be guided by the need to preserve her dignity and self-esteem. A child's toileting problem might stem from a variety of causes. She might have a physical problem, such as a urinary tract infection that causes her to urinate involuntarily or constipation that leads to leakage and soiling. She might be reluctant to use the toilet in school. Or she might simply be too involved in an activity to leave it.


Involve the parents. If a child has wet or soiled herself in school on more than one occasion, it is imperative that you talk with her parents to gain information about the problem at home, and that you work together to solve the problem in school. You also might want to involve the school nurse in that meeting. Find out if the child wets or soils herself at home and if anything in particular seems to trigger it. Ask whether the child has the necessary toileting skills and what the parents do to prevent accidents at home. You might want to suggest that they talk with their child's doctor to learn whether a physical condition is causing the problem. In talking with the parents, keep in mind that this is a sensitive issue and they might feel embarrassed by their child's problem. Have a private conversation with the student. Be aware that this is more than likely a sensitive subject for the child, so tread gingerly and adopt a matter-of-fact, non-judgmental tone. Ask the child if she can tell when she has to go to the bathroom. If she responds affirmatively, tell her to let you know any time she feels the need to go and you will allow her to leave the classroom immediately. Agree on a signal she can use to let you know when she has to go to the bathroom. Also, discuss with the child the procedure to follow if an accident occurs. Remind the student to use the bathroom. The child might have a toileting accident because she "forgets" to go. Make sure she goes during regularly scheduled bathroom breaks, and offer her an opportunity to go at other times as well. Work out a subtle non-verbal signal to alert her when you think she might need to go to the bathroom. Keep a change of clothes handy. Ask the child's parents to send in an extra set of clothes. You might want to keep the clothes in the nurse's office. Handle toileting incidents in a discrete and private manner. You want to minimize the chance that other children will become aware of an accident and lessen the chance of teasing. Take the child aside and suggest that she go to the nurse's office to clean herself or change her clothes. Give the child the responsibility of caring for herself, consistent with her age. A kindergartner or first grader might need help cleaning herself; an older elementary student should be able to care for herself. Allow the student to use a private bathroom. The child might be resisting going to the bathroom because she is uncomfortable using a stall in the hall restroom. If so, allow her to use a private bathroom, such as one in the

nurse's office, especially if she is cleaning herself or changing her clothing after an accident. Check on the student if she is in the bathroom for a long time. If a child has a history of toileting problems, send an adult to check on her. She might have wet or soiled herself and need assistance. Monitor the student's fluid intake. If a child is wetting herself in school, keep her drinks to a minimum. You don't want to deny her water completely, of course, so if you have questions about appropriate drinking restrictions, talk with the school nurse. Also, let her parents know what you are doing and obtain their approval.