In the modern classroom, the teacher is expected to use a variety of teaching pedagogue each day to cater for the different learning styles of the students. However, irrespective of pedagogue used, the teacher would like to maintain a disciplined classroom, dedicated to learning. In years gone by, if a teacher moved away from the teacher directed lesson (e. g. a chalk and talk lesson), students often took that as a sign to relax and not take the lesson seriously.
To overcome that attitude of students, the teacher can set up the lessons in a way to keep students’ learning on track by placing themselves in the best position in the classroom. Below are a few simple ideas to help the inexperienced teacher maintain class discipline in a variety of teaching situation.
Initially, most teachers will use a lecture or teacher directed lesson. This is often called a “chalk and talk” lesson. Here is the best way to use this type of lesson. You should teach from the front corners of the classroom. If you are a right handed, use the board from the left corner as the class sees you and the right side if you write left handed. This means your body does not get in the way of the class. You can see most of the class in your periphery vision. With one step backwards and half a turn, you quickly have the whole class in view. You can use your left/right arm as a pointer in this position as you face the class and still see all your students.
In a talking/verbal lesson, moving around the class randomly will help keep students on their toes and on task. You can ensure that text books are open and they are concentrating on what you are doing.
In lesson in subjects like History or English, you may like to involve the class in a group discussion. Here it is a good idea to rearrange the class furniture into a hollow square. If you are leading the discussion, you can sit at the centre of the hollow square but back from the line of the front seats where you can see all the students and the students can see you or whoever is speaking to the group. You can also use this approach, when students are delivering reports while you sit behind the hollow square, able to assess the report and observe the student audience easily. This way the students can’t see you without moving their body.
When the class is in work mode, i.e. doing set work, you can take up the position in the front corner of the room to get the best view of the class.
Alternatively, circulating around the class will add a further dimension to a disciplined environment as well as a greater application to work by students. You can also answer questions and see more easily those struggling to complete the task and you are there ready to help.
Standing behind the class adds another arrow to your bow because the class is never quite sure where you are. Standing behind or beside a lazy student lets them know you are aware of their lack of effort. Ask them if they are having problems and assist if necessary.
Using various form of technology can create issues as well. Screens and projectors are often used to enhance the teaching. Here it is important to place the screen where every student can see it easily. Then you must be aware of where you stand. Putting the teaching screen in the corner, allows you to stand beside it, facing the class, and able you use a pointer if required. An alternative is to set a pull-down screen in the centre of the board and stand in the back of the room using a laser printer to point out and discuss items you want the students to note. This approach limits the use of the board.
Often you will use the screen in a computer room to demonstrate a new piece of software. Here it is important to have a hands-off policy. It might mean initially that the software package is not accessed. The same is true for teaching students to use a new application with a graphics calculator.
With videos and the like, the screen in the centre of the board is the best position for the students while you remain in the rear of the room able to see all your students.
Inexperienced teacher are prone to make one major mistake early in their career. They often tend to stand in the front centre of the room. Standing in the centre of the room near the front desks can create vision problems. Blind spots occur in the front right and left corners and to a lesser extent in the two back corners. That is where the troublemakers and the lazy students often sit if you don’t have a seating plan.
Students will often miss your instructions. So always write the task the class has to do on the opposite side of the board clearly for all to see when giving out your instructions. (Please note that in the first diagram).
Any items you want on the board permanently should also be written on the opposite side of the board, preferably high on the board in the corner furthest from where you write. Clear instructions will help ensure a disciplined classroom with students on task more often than not.
Rick Boyce has taught for over forty-five years, the last fifteen years as the Head of Mathematics in a large Australian school. There, he supervised the induction of many young teachers. This article is but a small taste of what can be found in “The Classroom Management Compendium”. You can find this book at http://www.createspace.com/5635244.