When teachers are handed a class full of students who won’t pay attention, don’t care and visibly dislike each other, it’s easy to either blame the previous teacher or simply say that it’s a horrible class. It’s funny that we as teachers don’t necessarily think about it the same way when we are given a class that gets along and studies with enthusiasm. When the natural state of the class is that they work together and are well behaved we don’t necessarily question what the previous teacher had to do in order to get that classroom dynamic. It’s easy to take credit, or at least feel partially responsible, when things are going well, and it’s all too easy to push the blame when it isn’t.
The simple truth is that getting to, and maintaining, a healthy classroom dynamic takes a lot of effort. Bad classroom dynamics can be fixed. Healthy classroom dynamics, if not nurtured, can fall into disrepair. Read on for tips to fix a broken classroom dynamic as well as keep a good one healthy.
Or, if you’re just looking for some new games and activities to try with your YL or teen classes, you can gain access to the resources by clicking on the button below.
Steps To Fix a Broken Classroom Dynamic
First, it’s important to identify what is meant by a broken classroom dynamic. For the purpose of this post, let’s define it as one, or a series, of behavioral issues that significantly impede the class from learning. Sometimes it can even just be one student who is so disruptive, that the class moves at a much slower class than it should. More often, however, it is a number of issues like boredom, lack of consistency, lack of motivation, etc. that impede the learning of the majority of the class.
Step 1: Identify the Problems
Spend some time on this one. Take a few minutes after the class, to have a tea and clear your mind first. Once your tension and aggravation from the clas have subsided, try and get to the base of the issues. No, it is not that your young learners are horrible monsters. No, it is not that one of your students is incapable of listening. No, it is not that the administration has put all of the lowest students together and given them to you (probably…).
Once you are ready, try to list all of the problems in the class. Try and get below the surface of the problem as well. If the students aren’t paying attention, why not? If two students keep fighting, why? If everyone seems bored, why?
Step 2: Brainstorm Solutions
After you identify and understand the problems, coming up with solutions doesn’t seem so difficult. If you have a particularly difficult class, it might be worthwhile discussing your ideas with a more experienced teacher. This is when having a fellow teacher or manager watch the class can also be valuable.
Step 3: Pick a Solution
Also, remember that as with most problems, classroom dynamic issues have an almost infinite number of possible solutions. That doesn’t mean that they will all work. After you have a list of ideas, choose the ideas that you can visualize working with your students.
Step 4: Implement the Solutions
Once you’ve chosen a solution, you need to plan on how you can actually do it in class. This means making whatever your idea is a part of the lesson plan. It means thinking about it and following through with action.
Step 5: Review the results
When you actually try it in the classroom, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t translate into instant success. Be patient and see how it goes through the course of a lesson or two. After that, analyze in what ways your idea was successful and in what ways it seemed to fail. Perhaps you just need to tweek it a bit.
On the other hand, if there wasn’t any change in the class, it might be worth revisiting your list of ideas and simply trying something different. In either case, expect this to take a number of lessons to fix. When it is fixed, it will be worth it. What felt like the longest class period of your life, will go by enjoyably and you won’t feel like you are wasting your time.
Now Keep it Healthy
Whether you were lucky enough to receive a “good” class from the start or, after painstaking effort, you were able to get them on track, your classroom management job doesn’t stop there. In order to keep your class getting along and reaching their potential, you need to remain vigilant.
One thing to watch out for is small problems becoming big ones. So, if one of the ways you fixed the class was by creating a set of rules or making a class contract, you can’t let students who break the rules get off the hook just because you like them. If two students who used to fight start making faces at each other or doing ANY disrespectful activity you need to stop it immediately.
Another method to check on the classes health is to get feedback from your students. If they were bored, so you tried some new ideas, make sure they don’t get bored again. I recommend giving students surveys every few months. Ask what games and topics they liked/disliked. Ask what they’d like to learn about and see if you can incorporate it into the class.
Lastly, and most importantly, keep the class fresh. Routines are good and useful, but if the class starts to get repetitive, it is a recipe for disaster. If you want some new ideas for games and activities to use in your classroom, you can gain access to the resources by clicking on the button below.