“Classroom Management in the Early Language Classroom”
from October 18, 2017
On October 18, language teachers from grades K-8, and beyond, met for the biweekly
#EarlyLang chat. Participants discussed classroom management challenges, tool and
strategies to manage the class while utilizing the TL (Target Language). The discussion
also included ways to adapt management strategies for the #earlylang classroom, the
role of rapport and how to develop it.
Q1: What class management challenges come up in your early language classes?
Let’s face it, an entire chat could be devoted to just this question. Probably
nothing intimidates new, and even veteran, teachers more than the issue of managing
diverse behaviors effectively and consistently. One challenge mentioned by several
participant is the lack of school and/or social skills, especially in the younger students.
This leads to other problems such as talking over other students, calling out without
waiting to be called on, distracting other students, and fighting over silly things. These
problems are common to many classrooms in many subject areas. Adding to the
challenge is the need to use the TL for instruction. Some students have “blocks” when
it comes to learning another language. @kellycondon voiced a concern regarding
comprehension, “Sometimes I struggle with should it be said in TL vs. do they need to
fully get this,” indicating the need to occasionally balance TL with English when
discussing classroom procedures and consequences. Finally, different teaching styles
can lead to student confusion on classroom expectations.
Q2: Which class management tools do you have in place to manage your classes?
As most teachers will acknowledge, the basis for classroom management is a
combination of relationship building, modeling appropriate behaviors, and predictable
routines. Of course, it does not end there. Many teachers mentioned the used of
attention getters such as clapping patterns or a phrase said in a silly voice (in the TL,
naturally). Several teachers also mentioned Responsive Classroom
(www.responsiveclassroom.org), Class Dojo (https://www.classdojo.com), and PBIS
(https://www.pbis.org). Other suggestions included:
Discipline with a purpose (www.selfdisciplinedwp.com)
Open Circle (https://www.open-circle.org)
Lastly, several teachers use individual solutions like charts, change in seating, or the
opportunity to go into the hall and get ready for class in private.
Native speakers can give input to other students; as many of us have experienced, students often listen better to other students.
Q3: What strategies can we put in place to both manage the class and stay in the TL?
Once again, routines and modeling were mentioned. @PreKlanguages pointed
out the importance of consistency because it is,”very important to always begin and end
your lesson in the same way each time. This makes kids relax.” It also allows the use
of TL as they understand what is expected of them. @MundodePepita included a link to
hand signals that she uses (http://tinyurl.com/y9jbf2cb). Creating posters with visuals
of expectations make it easy to point or show the student what is expected, photo
cards can be used in the same way. @MadameH mentioned MindUp, a social-emotional
learning (SEL) program; similarly several participants discussed positive reinforcement
and mindfulness as tools for management and improving SEL.
Q4: In what ways can we adapt class management strategies to fit the #earlylang environment?
Young learners especially need routine. They also need a well-paced lesson, one
that moves fast enough to reduce the “squirmies” but not so fast that students get lost.
Students can also stay engaged if the teacher changes voice pitch or stresses certain
words. One teacher recommended simplified instructions for requests, then give
consequences (positive and negative) as needed. Other suggestions included teaching
students hand signals to use as a means of asking for help, changing up strategies, and
consulting with homeroom teachers to find what works for them. @windycitysenorita
uses CHAMPS (http://minds-in- bloom.com/introduction-to- champs) a research based
program from the work of Randy Sprick. Finally, teachers should remember to find the
combination of compassion and firmness that works for their group of students.
Q5: What role does rapport play in the #earlylang classroom? What can we do to build it?
The general consensus was that rapport is everything. Once you establish the
relationship, students can be embarrassed about causing problems. Several participants
pointed out that students need to trust that their teachers have their best interests in
mind. In the #earlylang classroom this is even more important as students need a safe
space in which to experiment with the TL. Creating a positive relationship with students
can lead to greater engagement and interest in the content. Rapport can be built
through modeling expectations of a safe environment, allowing students to make
personal connections, and making an effort to get to know the students. A few
teachers talked about “story time” in which they tell students about their lives as a
means to making those important connections.
Reflaction (reflection + action)
The use of modeling has been a theme of this chat. Several participants
mentioned using more modeling of expectations. Others plan to be more intentional
with setting boundaries and enforcing consequences when those boundaries are
crossed. Motivating students through fun lessons, working on building rapport, and
posting photos of the classroom management system were some other steps teacher
plan to take moving forward. As with the others, this chat provided many opportunities
to learn from our colleagues and consider new ways to improve our practice. All to
benefit our students, so they stay engaged and are excited to learn.
Thank you to all who participated in this #EarlyLang! Thank you to our lead
moderator, Valerie Shull, (@windycitysenorita) for leading the chat and to our co-
moderator, Dorie, (@doriecp) for helping guide the conversation. The next chat is
November 1, 2017 at 8 pm EST. Hope to see you there.
Would you like to vote on our next topic or suggest a topic for future discussion? Visit our voting page!