Marquis Ryan Walker

Despite our best efforts, some classes we teach are difficult. We have planned, demoed, explained and engaged our students but for some reason, it just does not go as planned. What then can we do? For me, I have many go-to techniques to help refocus class and continue learning. Here are five techniques I have used successfully to accomplish classroom management.

Stars, stickers and visible rewards

As a new teacher, I was overwhelmed when I had my first class of young learners with a behavior problem. In a planned panic, I turned to positive praise, as a method to management my class. Often, student do not understand what is expected of them. With no model of your teaching style or example of classroom expectation, students genuinely do not know what to do or how to achieve.

For this simple technique, write each student's name on the board. Then, set small clear tasks for the student to accomplish. These tasks can be either academic or behavioral, for example "Look" and "Listen". Since the goal is to quickly establish positive praise, every time the student does this, students receive a star next to their name. After a certain number of stars, 4 for example, students can receive a sticker for their behavior. There are many variations but all rely on the student doing positive behaviors and receiving visible, positive praise.

Rhetorical question

For me, my favorite technique is to ask "Do we…?" plus whatever negative action the student is engaged in. This method addresses directly what the issue is and allows not only the student to understand but the class to see what negative behavior is not acceptable.


This method has two parts, indirect and direct separation.

With indirect separation, the teacher creates a game that allows the students to move around the classroom. For example, with a game called "fruit salad”, the teachers assign one fruit to each student. Once each student has a fruit name, tell them to stand. Call each fruit name and have students sit back down according to your preferred method of student seating.

With direct separation, Have the student or students move chairs, and follow up with your rhetorical question. Very direct and clear.

Redirecting attention

Redirecting is a very good technique to use quickly that will not single out students directly for their behavior but continues the flow of the class. If a student is talking or not paying attention, show them the target language or ask them to volunteer. It is ok if they cannot answer your question. Once you have their attention, use that opportunity to teach them the subject. From this, the student has stopped their disruptive behavior and even learned what they missed.

Name on the board

The most extreme of the techniques I use, this method is designed, opposite the Stars, Sticker method. Students who names are placed on the board receive one mark for every negative behavior until they have three. Once three negative marks have been place, you follow up with feedback to their parents about the day's class and events. This technique, although very stern, is an effective way to manage classroom behavior. Involving the parents allows you to relay the information and find a solution. This method however must be done consistently, if you fail to speak to the parent, it will give positive reinforcement to an undesirable behavior.

What it all means

When you teach English to kids or teens, every classroom is different and every student equally different. What works for me many not be the same for you. The methods I use are just ideas and by no means the answer to all problems. What is important however is that you find a way to exhibit your teacher methodology and use it in the classroom. If you can do this, then most of the techniques mentioned will become useful and you will see a change in the classroom.

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