I teach mainly working adults at a private ELF institution and some of my classroom management strategies are:
I try to create an inclusive classroom.
I try to engage in experiential activities.
I’m re-committing to the process of joy and stimulating my students’ minds.
How do I implement these strategies? At any given time throughout the year, I may have students from all walks of life in the same classroom. I could easily have a police officer, a taxi driver, a manager, a housewife, a rich teenage boy, a shy teenage girl, an outspoken working female, an air force pilot, a VIP from the government, etc, and I believe each of these students deserves the same amount of respect and attention. Sometimes, I make it a point of not knowing what each of my students does for a living, since this could predispose me towards them. I have everyone work with everyone (besides girls with guys because I teach in a Muslim country). Because of their culture and traditions, most of the students that come in to my class behave like nice brothers and sisters, so I almost never have a problem with students not liking each other, being rude, arguments, etc. I’ve had students in my class who show signs of dyslexia, ADD, stutters, etc, and they’ve all been welcomed and treated exactly the same way by my students and myself. As I teach EFL, experiential activities are a must in my curriculum. I try to engage students whenever possible in field trips, role-plays, research projects, etc, in order for them to apply the knowledge being shared in class. While learning English, experience with the language is a must. I would probably love teaching ESL and not EFL because of the immense range of immediate real-life applications to my lessons. I’m also re-committing to the process of joy in my lessons. If when entering the classroom I show joy and excitement, this kind of sticks to my students; I have seen how this really works in the past three weeks with two of my classes. I do try to give my students stimulating material outside the outlined curriculum in the form of additional reading, educational videos, etc.
How do they help my class be better? These strategies help my class to be a much better learning environment. Including everyone and making it positive, encourages students to keep coming back for more. Practicing their English in real or almost real-life situations, allows students to put their new acquired knowledge in to practice and get a sense of accomplishment. Students, whose brains are constantly stimulated with interesting food-for-thought material, seem more motivated and active in class.
Do they help me support and engage my students? YES
Have I created an optimal learning environment? I’m in the process of accomplishing this and even though I’ve been teaching for over 14 years, I still think I have a long way to go before I can say I have the optimal learning environment. This is mainly because we’re all humans; we make mistakes and wake up on the wrong side of the bed many days. I juggle teaching, with family life, personal problems, motherhood, etc, and at any given time I may we down, sad, bored, angry and this prevents me from being all that I can be in my class. I can’t say I’m the greatest, most creative, perfect teacher but I take it a day at a time and try my best.
What’s scaffolding and how is it valuable? Scaffolding is a group of strategies, geared towards supporting learning when you first introduce a subject. Scaffolding gives your students a context from where to begin, like a foundation. It gives students motivation to understand all the new information being presented by you.
How do we implement scaffolding? We can implement scaffolding by activating prior knowledge through readings, videos, or conversation; by breaking a difficult task into smaller, more manageable ones, consequently having students not feel overwhelmed; by showing students examples of you expect from their work. (I.e. if you want them to write about a famous person, give them an outline, show them how you’d like the format to be, words they can use, etc.)