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kids running riot 
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Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 5:52 am
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Location: Italy
Post kids running riot
I have a couple of kids classes - age 9 - 11. They weren't great when I started, quite undisciplined, but just about manageable. Now six months later they're running riot. It's like a battle just to get through the lesson without so much noise that other teachers complain. I must have done something wrong, but what? Any tips for avoiding this with next year's classes?


Sat Mar 15, 2008 6:40 am
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
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Discipline is always tricky.

I generally try to take a look at what 'power' do I have. Then you have to leverage that 'power' to get kids to complete the lesson, behave, keep from disrupting others and what have you.

'Power' can take two forms.
1. Motivation
2. Punishment

Motivation is obviously the best of the two. It's much better to lead the students than to push them. So, since I'd rather use a positive force rather than a negative, I usually look to motivation first. There are many options depending on what you students are into:
- stickers
- points students accumulate for some award
- 'good work' certificates, student of the month ... (probably only good for younger students)
- candy (not my style but some teachers use it)
- movie day (watch a movie)
- sports day (play a game outside - and use English!)
- cooking lesson (make cookies/cakes and eat them!)
- ...

It's important to set the goals students need to accomplish to get the rewards. You can have small daily rewards like stickers that build up to a larger reward like the movie day.

It's also important to be firm, fair and consistent. Students that haven't followed the rules don't get to participate in the sports lesson or watch the movie. Those that have should be rewarded accordingly. I wouldn't make my system rely on total class participation, meaning if one fails all lose.

Punishment is sort of straight forward. You'll have to rely on the system in place at the school. Hopefully, they have one. Options:
- notes home to the parents
- detention
- writing lines
- marks off their grades
- extra tasks (like cleaning the classroom)
- something they have to do during recess time ...
- moving their seat next to the teacher's desk


A couple other ideas:

- weekly classroom performance cards: send them home with a classroom performance card to have their parents sign and return.

- For younger kids: daily good job stickers: give a few kids a 'good job' sticker to put on their chest at the end of one class. The next class give everyone a 'good job' sticker at the beginning of class. Then if they are misbehaving take their sticker away. It's funny but taking something away that they've earned (whether they did or not) seems to be very effective. They don't want to lose their sticker.

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Sat Mar 15, 2008 12:41 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:38 am
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Location: Italy
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I agree with all the above points.

One more: the mistake I've sometimes made with that age group is starting out in an informal, easy-going manner, and then had the kids take advantage of that with disruptive behaviour. It goes against my usual way of teaching, but I think with kids it may be best to start with quite a formal teacher/student relationship, and then relax a little if/when they've earned it.

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Sun Mar 16, 2008 7:07 am
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Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2008 5:52 am
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Thanks guys, that's some top quality advice. Reckon it's maybe too late to tame these little monsters, but I'll try and do it right next year.


Sun Mar 16, 2008 9:49 pm
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Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2007 11:04 am
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Location: Chatan, Okinawa, JA
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Something that made my most crazy classes straighten up is to put points on the board in the beginning. 10 points for first/second, 7 for 3/4, and 5 for 5/6. If they are rude, interrupting, or I cant get their attention, I stay silent, count to five in my head, and start to slowly erase one, then do it again, until the students catch on and tell the trouble makers to stop. If points reached zero, we dont play a game, and go back to something boring (like phonics).

On day 1 of implementing this, my students immediately straightened up. In fact, the good kids ask me to put the points on the board (for when I forget), so that they have an excuse to tell the other kids to quiet down (since Japanese love to be the same).


Mon Mar 17, 2008 10:22 am
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
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There is an earlier post here about prizes and goes into what different teachers give out and how they go about it.
http://www.mes-english.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=345

That might give someone some ideas.

I also did a show on ESL Teacher Talk about classroom management:
http://www.eslteachertalk.com/2006/04/c ... -learners/

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Mon Mar 17, 2008 11:40 am
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Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2006 8:03 am
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Location: Athens, Greece
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What I have found works with 8-12 year old kids is a greeting routine that should mark the beginning of the class. On the first lesson I explain how I want to be greeted when I get into the class. I want everybody to stand up. I will say:"Good morning" they will say " Good morning. teacher" then I will ask " How are you today" they answer and then I will say " Have a seat, please"
Then we practise 2-3 times until they get it right. This means that I get out of the class and get in again until I am satisfied.

You won't believe it, but when I walked for the first time in this notoriously unruly class and started explaining what I expected from them I could actually see in the kids' eyes that they liked it and appreciated me for being in control.

In this way there is a beginning to the lesson for everybody and you don't have to repeatedly ask them to be quiet and pay attention until they settle down.

You might find some ideas on noise management at
www.behavioradvisor.com, a site that has helped me a lot while I was in great trouble and struggling to survive in class myself.


Mon Mar 31, 2008 11:08 pm
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