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If they speak one Chinese sentence, they should speak ten English sentences. Ask the student to stand in front of the class and do a performance. Ask them to stand up for one to five minutes. They can change seats, or stand up for one minute. If you speak one Chinese sentence, you have to say three English sentences before the end of class.
Renato: Students speak Chinese for many reasons. Try to discern whether or not the use of Chinese in the classroom – in this specific instance – is helpful (translating directions for other students, etc.) or harmful (name-calling, jokes, off-topic discussions, etc.). Maintain an English-only environment wherever feasible – it helps reinforce English skills, sets a tone, and cuts down on the number of distractions students and teachers need to deal with. If a student continually speaks in Chinese after repeated warnings there’s likely a deeper problem. The student might be misplaced – either the class is too easy (so they make jokes to pass the time and amuse themselves) or too difficult (they don’t understand a thing, so they talk to others). Talk to the student privately during a break or after class – what’s their attitude towards our classes? What I do is either accept the student’s input – if it’s helpful Chinese – and remind everyone to speak in English, or take the student aside to discuss disciplinary measures if it’s harmful Chinese. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ Students complain about each other if they’re put into groups. a. b. c. d. e. All of the students are in one group. No complaining – it’s a rule. I will ask the person complaining to be a judge. I keep them in the groups I assigned. They need to talk to everybody. Tell them: They’re all friends. They should help each other. Doing their best is OK.
Renato: Chinese society is highly competitive and the values of social skills (like cooperation) are not highly stressed in traditional classrooms. Students may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable with team-based tasks. Students may worry that an underperforming student in their group will cause their group to be evaluated negatively. I don’t negotiate. I either quickly justify my choice of groups – students were chosen randomly (eenie-meenie-miny-mo) or to pair abilities – or I let eager students begin the activity. Students who refuse to participate are given less-attractive individual tasks (translating, copying, or writing an essay). ____________________________________________________________________________________________ Students are over-active. They never stop. f. g. h. i. j. Play a “STOP” game. If you move, you lose the game. Students stand in the back of the classroom, alone. I’d say, “Go out!” First they stand up. Then they’re out of class for five minutes. Third? Out forever. The CR can sit next to them and correct them.
Renato: I place active students near to me. Students are less likely to act out if they feel an authority figure’s presence, and I’m in a better position to deal with them if they do get out of their seats or disturb other students. If it’s a recurring problem with the class in general – not one or two students – and it’s getting in the way of language acquisition, then I’d talk to parents individually and consider scheduling an open class. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Renato Ganoza for EF Zhengzhou, 2009
Students always ask for breaks. k. l. m. n. o. Students can have a break once they’ve learned everything very well. Give the students a timetable before class. Maybe the students want to be teachers. Change the roles. They know the break time. I either wait or play a game. If it’s time for a break, I’ll tell them. They shouldn’t ask this question.
Renato: I don’t negotiate. This question is usually a sign to me that I’ve lost the student’s interest. It always comes up as attention wanes and eyes start to wander. When this happens I’ll typically change the activity: if we’ve been playing a game it may have gone on too long – we’ll review or do bookwork. If we’ve been doing bookwork, I’ll start up an active game or activity. If it’s a persistent question from one student over a series of classes, a talk with his or her parents may be necessary. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ They’re too noisy during breaks. p. q. r. s. t. Ask the noisy students to go to Holly’s office. Students stay in the classroom or watch TV. Stop them, and tell them that it’s rude to the other students still in the classroom. Ask them to play in an empty classroom. Ask them to play in the classroom. They can tell stories.
Renato: I think supervised in-class breaks are the best compromise. Students do need time to unwind and it is hard to concentrate on one thing for a two-hour period. Students need to find a constructive way to release all of that pent-up energy, though – running down the hallway screaming is not it. I’d suggest leading exercises or stretches or giving students extra-credit worksheets to work on during breaks. If students want to read quietly or work on other schoolwork, this is the time to do so. Students may play in the classroom if it isn’t an activity that disrupts other students or classes. __________________________________________________________________________________________________ Students hit each other. a. b. c. d. e. Students who fight are out of the classroom. Reproach them and have them apologize to each other. Other students stop to watch the two students fight. They’re out of my class. There shouldn’t be any violence in my class. 1. No fighting. 2. Find motives. 3. Apologies. 4. Friends again.
Renato: Separate the students. Students may have legitimate reasons for fighting or not. Your objective is to allow the lesson to continue. Other students and parents have paid money to learn English and it’s our responsibility to maintain an environment conducive to that. If the situation has become too much to reasonably handle in class – students are cursing at each other, inciting other students to violence, or have become violent towards a teacher – the students involved waive their right to attend the remainder of the lesson. Find me, Holly, or Emma. I would take a misbehaving student into my own class and inform the front desk to call or notify his parents to come pick him or her up. Don’t make a big scene of it and don’t make a bad situation worse by drawing unwanted attention to the student. Everyone has a bad day every once in a while. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Renato Ganoza for EF Zhengzhou, 2009
Students play with other things. a. b. c. d. e. If you play with something, you have to give it to the teacher. Put things in bags during class. I’ll take the thing to my office. Take the thing and give it back at the end of class. Ask them to put the thing into their bag, or the teacher will take it.
Renato: Every teacher handles this differently. I believe any system works so long as you are consistent and fair with it. If you take a toy from one student and keep it until after class, don’t take a toy from another student and hand it back with a warning. Do your best to appear impartial. Clearly explain the classroom rules at the beginning of each course and again at regular intervals. Students are less likely to appeal or argue if they understand and respect the rules. Students are more likely to respect the rules if there is a fair implementation of them. _____________________________________________________________________________________________ They don’t pay attention in class. a. b. c. d. e. Make the class more interesting. There’s a problem with the teacher’s class. It isn’t very interesting. Stand up for one minute. Ask them a question. They’ll feel uncomfortable, and start to pay attention. Warn him or her and let him or her answer questions.
Renato: This is expected. Students could be distracted for any number of reasons, and teachers need to learn to cope with waning attention spans. Try changing activities – if you’ve been doing bookwork, switch to an active game. Try to re-focus the group by counting silently or awarding stars to well-behaved students. Bring interesting realia into class i.e. an American football or world map. Arrange seats so that students are physically closer to the teacher. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ They bring homework from other classes to do in class. a. b. c. d. e. If you do homework in my class, I’ll give you more homework. Ask them to wait until after class. Remind them to put it away. Take it and give it back at the end of class. Take the homework away.
Renato: Take it away or ask them to put it away. This is a minor issue. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ Students speak bad words. a. Ten good words after one bad word. b. I’ll punish them. c. I’ll hit them with the hammer. Renato: Warn the students involved once. Clearly outline the rules and expectations regarding the use of swear words in class. If students continue to curse – disobeying a direct order – apply discipline as necessary. If you’re unsure, ask me, Holly or Emma. _____________________________________________________________________________________________ Renato Ganoza for EF Zhengzhou, 2009
Students pay little attention to the teacher. a. I hit the table. Renato: This works until students become used to you hitting the table. Then it’s no longer effective. You’ll need to think up bigger, louder displays of force to attract and keep their attention. I never suggest yelling or hitting things unless you really like yelling or hitting things. It’s an easy way to exhaust yourself. What I do is use quiet management methods whenever possible. I resort to yelling i.e. “1-2-3” as a last resort. Hold up a ball. Draw or write on the whiteboard. Award stars to attentive students or teams. Hold up fingers and count to three silently. Flip a water bottle a few times. Call a student to the front and – without explaining anything – initiate a familiar and fun game like charades or whispers. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ Students fight or quarrel with each other. They’re always talking to classmates. a. If they want to quarrel, they can do that out of class. b. I’ll ask them to leave the classroom. c. Students change seats, or I’ll stand behind them for several minutes. Renato: Separate students and seat them physically near to a teacher. If students persist inform me, Holly, or Emma. Avoid pressing your authority or attempting to mediate – students will all want to chime in and your class will lose focus. Calling an outside authority figure reinforces the idea that the quarreling students will receive an impartial hearing. _____________________________________________________________________________________________ Some students won’t participate in class activities. a. b. c. d. e. Try to persuade them that the activities are interesting. There’s no excuse for this. They have to participate. Maybe the activities aren’t suitable for the students. We can change the game. Normally students will want to join in after they’ve watched the others start playing. The CR can check his or her work, and have a talk with him or her.
Renato: I don’t force students to participate in activities. Often it just draws unneeded attention to the students and creates a mess of an atmosphere. Continue the planned activities normally and arrange less-appealing substitute work for the student to complete. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ Students don’t finish their homework. a. b. c. d. e. Call their parents. Give them three times as much homework. They can’t leave until they’ve finished their homework. They can stay after class. They won’t get any stars on the board. After class the students can stay to finish their homework.
Renato: Kill them. Realistically, we can’t do much to ensure that students remain productive outside of class. We have telephone teaching already. Some teachers will have students stay in during breaks to finish homework. Ultimately homework is a parent’s responsibility. Explain to parents that students who finish their homework by themselves learn more and become better English speakers faster. Students who never do homework or copy their homework learn nothing. Renato Ganoza for EF Zhengzhou, 2009
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