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A Reflection on Classroom Management Essays

Chapter Report Title: Classroom Management Main Source: “Managing the Classroom” (Harmer, J. 2007. Ch. 3) Course: EFL Methodology Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Nenden Sri Lengkanawati By Name: Pritz Hutabarat NIM: 1201156 PROGRAM STUDI PENDIDIKAN BAHASA INGGRIS S2 UNIVERSITAS PENDIDIKAN INDONESIA 2012 Table of Content A. Introduction B. The Body a. The definition b. The teacher in the classroom c. Managing student talk and teacher talk d. Using the L1 e. Creating lesson stages f. Different seating arrangements g. Different student groupings C.
Synthesis/Comments D. Conclusion E. Bibliography A. Introduction “Management by objective works – if you know the objectives. Ninety percent you don’t. “ Peter F. Drucker The quote by one of the most influential people in the study and practice of business management above is also applied in the teaching business. Classroom management should be planned and designed based on the objectives of the lesson. Another popular quote says “people are our most valuable asset” and in the education field the people referred here are the teachers.
Because of the significance of its position and influence teachers are often considered to be the central figure behind the success or failure of the learning process. The ability to utilize the resources available for the teaching process is the key factor of this success. In their planning, teachers are required to set the goals of the lesson, to prepare strategies to achieve the goals, to identify the materials and activities needed, and to anticipate the potential problems that could occur during the lesson.
During the lesson, the teachers are required to monitor and assess the learning process in order to guarantee the accomplishment of the target, and after the class is over, teachers are recommended to reflect on the lesson, to evaluate what happened during the lesson so that in the future they can provide a better learning atmosphere for the students. This whole set of activities in the life cycle of a lesson (planning, teaching, monitoring, assessing, and evaluating) needs to be carefully organized through effective classroom management to ensure the achievement of the learning objectives.
Despite the difficulties faced due to its complexity and the time constraints that teachers have, it is strongly recommended that serious effort should be made to implement effective classroom management. Conducting successful classroom management is like conducting a perfect music arrangement for an orchestra. As we enjoy the perfect harmony of an orchestra the students should also experience a productive yet enjoyable learning process.
This report will cover the definition of classroom management, different aspects of teaching in the classroom including how teachers should interact with students, how they can use their voice, how they should talk to students, give instructions, manage student talk and teacher talk, use L1 to the maximum benefit as well as create lesson stages, different seating arrangements, and different student groupings. The next section will present a summary of the topic about classroom management based on Chapter 3 of Jeremy Harmer’s book How to Teach English enriched with ideas and opinions from other writers such as Jerry G. Gebhard, H.
Douglas Brown, Jim Srivener, and David Nunan. There are no conflicts between these writes’ opinions instead they complement each other in the discussion about the topic. The summary is followed by synthesis and comments on the matter before finally drawing conclusions. The last section will list all of the sources used for this paper. B. The Body The definition Classroom management refers to the way teachers organize what goes on in the classroom and the goal is to create a classroom atmosphere conducive to interacting in English in meaningful ways so that students can make progress in learning English (Gebhard, 2009, p. 0). Jim Srivener in his book Learning Teaching argued that classroom management may be the key for the success of the learning process in the classroom (Srivener, 2005a, p. 79). Harmer emphasized that in order to have effective classroom management we need to handle various variables which contribute to the success of the lesson such the organization of the classroom space, the roles of the teacher, the interaction with the students, the alternatives of grouping the students and dealing with difficult situations (Harmer, 2007a, p. 34). The teacher in the classroom
Experts have come up with various ideas about how to achieve effective classroom management. Their opinions differ in many areas but almost all would agree that the teachers play a vital role in assuring that the learning process is moving toward the objectives of the lesson. According to Jeremy Harmer in his book “How to Teach English”, teachers of English language have to be able to respond to what happens in the class, the degree to which we are aware of what is going on, often marks the difference between successful teaching and less satisfactory lessons (Harmer, 2007b).
Peter Wilberg said that teacher’s primary responsibility is response-ability. This means the ability to judge what is going on in the classroom and being flexible to respond to what is going on (Harmer, 2007c). Jim Srivener agrees with this statement as he summarizes the basic skills of classroom management as follows (Srivener, 2005a, p. 80): Actions Doing the chosen actions Options Finding options Making decisions between one option and another Look Looking at classroom events minute by minute
Harmer observed that the presence of the teacher in the class, the usage of the teacher’s voice, the conversation with students, and the instructions given in the class are some factors in classroom management that effect the success of the lessons in the classroom (Harmer, 2007d). He continued his explanation by saying that the teachers need to consider how he or she interacts with the students in the class. They should be able to judge the appropriateness of their interactions with the students and should also acknowledge certain values and ethics that the students share to avoid offending anybody.
Furthermore, teachers are advised to move around the classroom to some extent to retain their students’ interest or to work closely with smaller groups. In terms of using the most important asset in a teacher, their voice, he suggests that teachers should project their voice in a way that it could be heard by the students in the further locations. In the learning process the students must be able to hear whatever comments are made by their teacher to help them stay “tuned” into the lesson.
Teachers also should use a variety of tones in order to differentiate stages in the lesson. This is particularly important so that the students know what to expect next and they are able to understand the messages given by the teacher more clearly and as a result would respond accordingly. Teachers are advised to conserve their voice whenever possible so that they are “available” for the next lessons. The next aspect mentioned by Harmer is that teachers should be careful in the language they use when talking to the students.
It is suggested that they rough-tune the language in order to help the students to better understand what is being said. Teachers should also make use of the gesture, mime and expression to help students of a lower level. To conclude his explanation of the teacher’s aspect Harmer proposes two general rules for giving instructions: they must be kept as simple as possible, and they must be logical. Teachers should be clear themselves of what they want their students to do, what information is needed, how are they going to do the activity, and what is the order or sequence of the activity.
Failure in giving clear instructions will result in students who are not able to complete the tasks and fail to see the point of doing the activity or are confused what to do, and in many cases the teacher has to give unnecessary and long explanations again and again resulting in poor use of class time (Harmer, 2007e). Different angles of the teacher factor in classroom management were explored by Brown in his book Teaching by Principle (Brown, 2001a) where he listed the various roles of the teacher and elaborated a number of teaching styles.
A teacher, according to him, has to play many roles such as authority figure, leader, knower, director, manager, counselor, guide, friend, confidante and even parent. Two rules of thumb for teachers are a willing acceptance of these many ways that students will perceive us as their teacher and to show consistent fairness to all students. We as teachers need to know ourselves, our limitations, our strengths, our likes and dislikes and then accept the fact that we are called to be upon many things to many different people. Then as we become more comfortable with a role, we need to be consistent in all our dealings with students.
Besides the roles we play, our teaching style is also an important factor in our approach to classroom management. Brown identified eight possibilities of teaching styles continuum. Shy gregarious (sociable) Formal informal Reserved open, transparent understateddramatic rationalemotional steadymoody serioushumorous restrictivepermissive The same principle applies for teaching styles as it does for teacher’s role in which the teachers need to be consistent with their style. Inconsistency will only confuse the students in how they relate to us and in turn could cause problems in implementing effective classroom management.
Managing student talk and teacher talk There is a continuing debate about the amount of time teachers should spend talking in class. Harmer argues that overuse of teacher talking time (TTT) is inappropriate because the more a teacher talks, the less chance there is for the students to practice their own speaking (minimum STT). He recommends maximizing the student talking time in such a way that the teacher is not afraid to take the time necessary to talk (summarizing, telling stories or enter into discussion, etc) providing that the teacher is aware of the quality of speech (TTQ) he/she is giving to the students (Harmer, 2007f).
Gebhard also shared his thoughts on this by saying that we can elect to use English selectively and purposely to answer students’ questions, give instructions, demonstrate useful reading processes, explain homework assignments, relate an amusing story that students can comprehend, participate in daily interpersonal communications with students in English, and use teacher talk as part of students’ planned listening comprehension experience, such as dictation (Gebhard, 2009a).
Another expert, Jim Srivener identifies that most of the time the students are not really learning when we are giving a long explanation instead they get bored and switch off. He warns teachers to reduce using unnecessary TTT but move toward setting activities which require the students to have more useful interaction with their colleagues (Srivener, 2005b). He also recommends using elicitation rather than explanations all given by the teacher.
Elicitation will reduce TTT and at the same time will build good rapport with the students, boost students confidence as they are contributing to the lesson and as for the teacher it makes it easier to pin point the areas in which the students are capable and which areas need to be assisted. On the other hand, David Nunan in his book Language Teaching Methodology made a point about the need of TTT in the classes where teacher’s talk is the only source of live target language input (Nunan, 2000). So when determining the appropriateness of teacher talk we need to consider the reasons behind it.
Using the L1 Using L1 in the classroom needs to be handled carefully because it can act as a double edged sword. If we can make use of L1 effectively then the students would benefit from it by confirming the meaning of English words in their L1 but if we overuse it might hinder the progress the students make in using the target language. Harmer acknowledges the practicality of using L1 in a lower or beginner level of learners as they tend to translate what is happening in the classroom. This case is especially true when teacher and students share the same L1.
Making use of the students’ L1 does not mean that we should abandon the commitment to creating an English environment. English should be predominant in an English lesson after all it is the ability to communicate in English that they need to acquire (Harmer, 2007g). Jim Srivener also agrees with the use of L1 in ESL/EFL classes to the extent that it does not get in the way of the students using English. An ideal ESL/EFL classroom according to him would be a place where the students are free to use any language they want but still chose to use English (Srivener, 2005c).
Creating lesson stages Every lesson needs to be staged logically to incorporate various activities planned for the lesson so that the students’ progress is aided systematically. It is important to start a lesson in such a way that the students’ interest is aroused so that they become engaged (Harmer, 2007h). As we continue the lesson, we need to keep the students in the game. When an activity has finished and/or another activity is about to start, it helps if teachers make this clear through the way they behave and the things they say.
Still according to Harmer, we should put an activity to a complete end by providing some kind of closure: it could be a summary of what has happened or a prediction of what will take place in the next lesson. The same enthusiasm as there is in the beginning of the lesson needs to be created when we finish the lesson so that the students are encouraged to use the language points learned outside of the class and are looking forward to the next lesson. Jim Srivener warns the teacher to always give some kind of feedback ollowing the completion of an activity. He observed that this activity is often under-planned and the teacher depends on the classroom discussions to raise some questions or comments or even uses on the spot question and answer routine. By planning the feedback session, the teacher reduces the risk of giving another long explanation of what has been learned and being dragged into unrelated topics (Srivener, 2005d). Different seating arrangements There are some common seating arrangements applied in the classroom.
The decision of what seating arrangements is chosen according to which one is most suitable for a particular class, activities or students. Harmer listed five different seating arrangement namely orderly rows, circle, solo work, separate tables and horseshoe. Each seating arrangement has its advantages and disadvantages (Harmer, 2007i). According to him, the orderly rows scheme has some advantages such as that the teacher has a clear view of all the students and the students can all see the teacher.
This arrangement is particularly suitable for lecturing, explaining a grammar point, watching a video or power point presentation, using the board or showing the students work on an overhead transparency. In classes with a big number of students such as 40 and above, orderly rows is probably the most suitable arrangement. It has some disadvantages though, such as creating minimum student talking time, and poor students’ participation.
In terms of teacher and students relationship this arrangement could create a distance between the two and this could hinder the chance of having a more relaxed atmosphere needed for the learning process. Circles and horseshoe arrangement on the other hand provide a more relaxed atmosphere as the teacher lower the barrier between themselves and the students. Students can see each other which promotes more natural conversation as they can make eye contact and are able to see expressive body movements.
Separate tables scheme is very useful in teaching mixed-ability classes where different groups of students can benefit from concentrating on different tasks (designed for different ability levels). This arrangement is also appropriate when the students are engaged in collaborative writing or when they are listening to different audio tracks. The problems of implementing this seating arrangement are that the students may not always want to work with the same colleges all the time and it makes “whole-class” teaching more difficult since the students are more diffused and separated.
Jim Srivener points out that changing the seating arrangement could create more opportunity for the students to interact with other students, it could also take the focus away from the teacher when appropriate, and give space to create different situations within the classroom. He even mentioned that at the least this change of seating arrangement could supply the need of movement for the students. He also warns about the restrictions some cultures have with regard to the kind of interactions is accepted so that we should bear that in mind when deciding about the seating arrangement (Srivener, 2005e).
Different student groupings The decision on how the students are organized depends on the aims of activities set in the lesson. Harmer elaborates four main groupings namely whole class, group work and pair work, solowork, and class to class. Each of these can be organized in any seating arrangements. Whole class grouping is useful for presenting information and for controlled practice. It is less effective when we want to encourage individual contributions and discussion since speaking out in front of a whole class is often more demanding than speaking in a smaller group.
Group work and pair work have many advantages such the students get more opportunity to practice their speaking, it foster cooperative activity that the students involved work together to complete a task and it gives a sense of independence as the students are working together and making their own learning decisions, and they can work without the pressure of the whole class listening to what they are doing. As for the teacher, it gives the teacher more opportunity to focus their attention on particular students if needed. Beside its strengths the group work and pair work scheme has some drawbacks too.
In many cases one student dominates the discussion and can sometimes encourage students to be more disruptive than they would be in a whole-class setting especially when the students share the same first language. Another setting is solowork where the students work individually. The main advantage of this setting is that the students are working at their own speed, they are free from peer or group pressure and they are able to express themselves personally. The last grouping mentioned by Harmer is the class to class grouping where we join two classes together.
This setting is good for surveys where the students work with other students they do not normally interact with in English lesson (Harmer, 2007j). A variety of grouping schemes is necessary to serve different activities and therefore, the teachers should be flexible in trying out these different grouping settings so that they have a database of which grouping is best to implement in his/her lesson. Jerry G. Gebhard gave some ideas about how we group the students. We could select the students in advance on the basis of their personality or ability and experience. The other way to do it is to randomly choose the group.
Still another way to do it is by involving the students in choosing their group member or creating an activity (using cards, ropes, or songs etc) that by the end of the activity the students are gathered in different groups (Gebhard, 2009b). C. Synthesis/Comments The writer’s understanding of the classroom management covers the whole process of planning the lesson, organizing, monitoring, and assessing the activities, evaluating the effectiveness of the activities, and adapting to the dynamic of the class to create a conducive learning environment ensuring the accomplishment of the learning objectives.
Classroom management in this context will cover three areas of teaching English which are pre-teaching, during the teaching, and post-teaching. Planning is easily identified as part of pre-teaching activity where the rest of the activities arguably can fall in to the teaching and post-teaching section. There are a number of variables that need to be considered when implementing classroom management. Based on the authority that we have as teachers when managing the class there are aspects which are given or unchangeable and there are aspects which are changeable.
Unchangeable aspects include the rules and regulations of the school (higher authority), socio-cultural aspect, local values shared in the community, number of the students in the class, the size of the classroom etc. Changeable aspects include the seating arrangement, teacher talk, sequence of the lessons, grouping techniques etc. As a teacher, we need to be aware of the given conditions (unchangeable aspects) so that we will not offend anybody in our approach to create effective classroom management.
We should adapt and modify our classroom management but we should never hesitate to be creative in the classroom. In terms of the elements involved in classroom management we need to consider the physical aspects of the learning process, the human factor and the external factor. The physical aspects include the classroom, seating arrangement, the teaching equipment, books and other teaching materials. The human factor concerns the students and teacher, their interactions, their roles and personality, the language they use in the classroom, different teaching styles, etc.
The external factors include the rules and regulations of the school and government, the values shared in the community, and the external environment (noise from outside of the classroom, the light, etc). It is on this basis that the writer approaches the issues about classroom management. Moreover, the writer agrees that human factors, in this case the teacher, play a vital role in creating effective classroom management. After all it is the teacher who plans and teaches in the classroom although students can also be involved in the process.
But the initiation always comes from the teacher. When managing his/her classroom a teacher should consider how he/she can make use all of the resources available to them, uses different seating arrangements, apply various teaching methods, set a variety of activities, give clear instructions, monitor the progress of the lesson, provide feedback or summary of the lesson, motivate the students, use appropriate language and tones of speaking and so on so forth.
Since the ultimate goal of classroom management is to ensure that the objectives of the learning process are achieved it is crucial that teachers need to be clear about the objectives that she/he wants to achieve and direct all his/her effort to pursue it.
Effective classroom management will be reflected in the practice of teaching and learning where the students are actively involved in various learning activities, there is mutual trust between the teacher and the students, there are plenty of meaningful conversations and interactions going on between the teacher and the students and among the students and there is a common understanding shared about the objectives of the lessons and the roles of each individual in the classroom.
Classroom management could be analogized as the bridge that connects the objectives planned in the lesson plan to the accomplishment of it. D. Conclusion Teachers play a vital role in the success of the learning process which is measured by the achievement of the lesson objectives. Effective classroom management is needed to ensure the optimal use of the available teaching resource and the best choice of activities and interactions are implemented in order to create a conducive learning atmosphere.
Classroom management involves various aspects such as the roles of the teacher in the classroom, the clarity of the instructions, seating arrangements, grouping arrangements, managing the use of the students’ first language, balancing teacher talking time and student talking time and promoting more meaningful conversations in the classroom.
In implementing classroom management, the teacher should be aware of and work within the boundary of the external factors such as rules implemented in the school and by the government, the values shared in the community and the different personality and learning styles the students have. Successful classroom management will result in enjoyable and fruitful learning activities. E. Bibliography 1. Brown, H. Douglas. (2001). Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy (2nd ed. ). White Plain, NY: Pearson Education. . Gebhard, Jerry G. (2009). Teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language : A Self –Development and Methodology Guide (2nd ed. ). United State of America: The University of Michigan Press. 3. Harmer, J. (2007). How to Teach English. Essex, England: Pearson Education Limited. 4. Nunan, D. (2000). Language Teaching Methodology: a textbook for teachers. Essex: Pearson Education Limited. 5. Srivener, J. (2005). Learning Teaching: A guidebook for English language teachers (2nd ed. ). Oxford: Macmillan Education.

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