MEC debate 2: Managing your classroom


ELT author and teacher trainer, Adrian Tennant, writes:

Adrian Tennant

Classroom Management is a topic that many teachers feel is important. It usually includes things such as discipline; motivation (or lack of); a wide range of knowledge; covering all the material and getting the students to do the tasks set.

When dealing with such issues I think part of the problem is the way we look at them. They are often seen as problems rather than being seen as part and parcel of the teaching process. In reality they are often things that most teachers have to deal with. We need to see these things as issues that can be solved. Challenges that will, in the end, make us better teachers.

It’s vital to have a clearer picture of what the problem (or issue) is. Often the main problem is a lack of understanding. Categorising the problem doesn’t actually help us deal with it. What we need to do is dissect the problem and try and find out exactly why it’s happening. It’s also useful to look at what we are currently doing. Clearly, if what we were doing was working then we wouldn’t still have the problem.

Asking questions that look at the cause will help.


  • What is the problem?
  • How does it affect the class?
  • What are the underlying reasons for the problem?
  • What do I do about these at the moment?
  • Are any of the things I do effective?
  • Why (not)?

It’s quite likely that you will find that there is more than one contributing factor or reason for a particular problem. This might at first appear unhelpful, but in reality we are more likely to be able to address these small issues than the overall problem. By tackling each of the underlying causes we will eventually solve the original issue (or at least make it less of a problem).

One problem that teachers have asked me about recently is how to motivate their students to read. Teachers claim that their students don’t read at home and that this means they are not interested in reading in class, nor are they particularly good at this skill. After discussing the issue with these teachers we discovered that their students do read, but not novels, or newspapers. What they read is emails, blogs and online news. Once this was established an obvious answer presented itself – get the students to read the texts on a computer rather than in a printed book. Of course, you can only do this if you have enough computers for your students. However, this is an example of how to find a solution rather than focus on the problem.

Sharing- A problem shared is a problem halved, or so the saying goes.

§         Have you had any classroom management issues?

§         How did you deal with them?

§         Do you currently have any classroom management issues you would like to share?

§         Do you have any useful suggestions or tips?

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