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Teaching large classes - Drama techniques in

classroom
Teaching large classes with mixed abilities can be easy by using drama techniques.
There are several drama techniques which can be applied in classroom in order to
improve the students' knowledge of English language.
1.

Simulation Teacher divides students into the groups of four or five students. Each
group should get a task to solve some problem (e.g. how to buy a ticket at the railway
station, how to order a meal in the restaurant, how to ask someone for a date , ...).
The students should prepare their own performance according to their abilities. Some of
them will speak more, some less, but all of them will be involved in the simulation.
These simulations are not long. They could be prepared and performed in one class.
2.
Pantomime Students are divided into 4 groups. Each group gets a task (e.g.
incident in the bus, quarrel in the cinema, birthday surprise,...) and they should
prepare a pantomime for the given task. After the pantomime performance of the first
group, other students discuss about what they have seen.
3.
Improvisation Teacher tells a story. It can be a story from a textbook. Then the
teacher divides students into groups and gives a task to each group. The task is to
write and perform a different ending of the story. It would be nice if the story involves
several characters. Then the students can act out those characters.

lassroom Management and Multi and Large Level


Classes in the Indian Context
Before going to delve deep into the topic classroom management and multi and large
level classes, I would like to talk about he primary and secondary educational scenario
in my country in general and in my state, Andhra Pradesh in particular.
There is a clear polarization in the society. The rich and the elite send their wards to the
corporate schools while the middle class admit their children to the private schools and
the poorest of the poor among the upper castes and the scheduled and backward
castes who are socially and economically disadvantaged push their children into
government schools.
The children who come to government schools lack motivation and proper parental
care. There are only a few mediocre and somewhat bright students here. Paradoxically,
the highly qualified and more talented teachers work in government schools, while the
average and less qualified teachers work in private and corporate sectors.
Now let me talk about my situation. I work in a government school where the classes
are not large but children belong to different levels. Some are mediocre, others are dull
and a few can not even write their names in their mother tongue correctly. You can
understand the plight of a poorEnglish teacher like me in a government school. The

government always insists on getting cent percent pass in final year of the secondary
examination.
I can rather shamefully but conscientiously say that some of our students can not write
their names properly even in their mother tongue. The officials goad us to cover the
syllabus. Nevertheless, I take up the following measures in my class.
1.

I teach English very interestingly to the best of my ability so that the best
students can improve their four language skills fairly well.
2.
I teach English using mother tongue now and then so as to make the average
and the dull students can at least read and write what they have read in the
examination.
3.
I take up the remedial teaching so that the most dull students can at least read
the text with some amount of difficulty.
4.
I give some challenging tasks to one or two students who can speak and write
English fairly well. On the whole, I confess that teaching English is a big ask for a
government teacher even if he/she is highly talented or famous. The teacher has to
bear this brunt as long as the evil of examination and the devil of text book and the
syllabus exist in he English class room

Classroom Management
Let us begin with some untraditional premises, and see where they lead us.
EVERY class, be it large or small, is a multi-level. No two children are completely alike;
even identical twins have different personalities and capabilities. The temperaments and
characters vary greatly; a pupil who used to be pliable and reliable in primary school
may become an explosive teenager later; a slow learner may outgrow developmental
problems by mid-school and become a star. A popular sportsman may be either close to
zero intellectually, or a top student of their class. Same age does not equal same level,
and same level does not equal same age. Even worse, there are young children who
seem to be quite mature for their chronological age, and there are adolescents who act
like they are still in kindergarten. To sum it up, there are absolutely no rules. When
dealing with children of any age, always be ready for the unexpected!
Universal education is historically young. Though the first schools appeared in various
countries in ancient times, for centuries nobody would even dream of sending ALL the
children to school for a whole decade. Education for girls? Please. Mrs. Bennetts five
daughters all received their education at home, and all they learned was embroidery,
dancing, a little French perhaps, housekeeping, piano playing, in short, a few
accomplishments which were deemed essential for a gentlemans daughter.
Worldwide, humanity is still far away from the equality of sexes. Having grown in a
country where universal education and equal pay for men and women were adopted in
1918, shortly after the 1917 revolution, I had had quite a cultural shock when I had to
take part in the tenth anniversary celebrations at a US university in 1992.

What was celebrated? In 1982, women were allowed to enter the university, and
obtained an equal footing with men in this respect. Think a moment: when we study
the history of science, for instance, we come across only one female name for the
beginning of the twentieth century, Madame Curie. As a student at Moscow University, I
remember reading that Charles Dickens was an ardent champion of what we now call
universal secondary education. Just look at the number of his novels where school as a
phenomenon which needs societys attention and immediate reforms occupies a central
place in his plots. He did not live to see the Education Act adopted in the UK in 1870. In
most countries, it was only in the second half of the twentieth century that the concept
of universal compulsory education was introduced.
Today , in most developed countries, parents are required by law to send their children
to school between the ages of 5-6 to 16-17. And so here we are, teaching ALL children
according to the school curriculum, whether they wish it or not. I would say that step
number one is an awareness of those two sides of modern teaching and learning.
1.
2.

No two children are the same. ALL children are different.


We used to be those children. The younger we teachers are, the more reforms
and innovations we experienced while still students ourselves.
When I started working at school in 1995, I was extremely lucky to have the following
very unusual experience. In Russia, there is no system of substitute teachers. If a
colleague is absent for some reason, their classes are shafted to any other person who
teaches same level and age groups. One day, the other primary EL teachers were sick,
so I suddenly got whole large classes, 35 pupils each, instead of the customary groups
of 15-18. Any teacher knows how hard it is to cope with a strange class; when groups
of rowdy children are thrown together, half of them familiar with the adult and half of
them not knowing what to expect, the results may be quite disastrous. To aggravate
matters, a much respected colleague, whose subject was Russian , poked his head into
my room and waved me outside for a moment. It turned out he had to leave urgently,
and he asked me to take his pupils in. I was speechless for a moment. 35 eight-yearold beginners with 35 sophisticated eleven-year-olds?! But one does not say No in
Siberia in winter, especially not when it is the second, afternoon shift, the time is 6 P.M.,
it is -25C outside, and the parents are not coming to pick up their children until 7 P.M.
He looked at my face, smiled and said, You can cope, I know! His trust buoyed me up.
The extreme experience taught me to manage; more importantly, it showed me that
indeed I could cope. How?

Tell yourself frankly that it is a difficult situation. Then brace yourself for
whatever may be coming.
No matter how you feel, show a confident face to the class. You are the boss, it
is your classroom, and those are your rules. Take a few deep breaths before you speak.
In any unexpected case, take a few seconds to evaluate the situation. Ask the
pupils what they think, what they can do. It does not mean that you will follow their
advice or opinion. It means that you help the class calm down, engage them in a
mental activity, and give a new direction to their energy.

Try not to hold up the liveliest and most talented pupils, always have some extra
tasks ready. On the other hand, do not try to elicit the same spectacular results from
those who are slow or lag behind. Without attracting the whole classs attention to
them, produce a few manageable tasks, or use the ones you already prepared but
shorten them, for example mark six items out of ten in an exercise. Be sure to tell them
that if they can do the whole task in the time allotted, it is fine.
If you have a feeling that you cannot cope satisfactorily, do not hesitate to ask
for help . There is no shame in that. Some of your more experienced colleagues are
sure to be friendly and understanding. If not at your own educational institution, you
may find support at home, or by attending a teacher conference or seminar, or teacher
refresher courses. There are plenty of resources online, too.
Try to keep your emotions in check; do not vent your feelings in front of a class.
Our job is much like an actors, in that we are always in front of an audience (minus the
successful actors fees). It is vital to realize that the mere fact of our having to face a
rambunctious, or exhausted, or tired, or all of the above factors plus multi-level
abilities, is stressful in itself. Yet I believe that if we come to a classroom with an open
heart and try our best to teach the good, the bad and the ugly, we can manage just
fine.