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Classroom Management: Involving The Whole Class


Classroom Management: Involving The Whole Class


Remember back in your student days when a teacher would ask you a question which you did not know the answer to? How did you feel? Pressured and uncomfortable, right? Luckily, it was in your mother tongue, unless it was a foreign language class which forbade using your native language. Culturally, for most western-minded citizens, simply answering, "I don't know" or "I'm not sure, but..." is perfectly acceptable, even if the answer was incorrect.


Here, we have the 'harmony' and 'perfection' ideals that take place in most aspects of life. Although the Ministry Of Education is trying to change that, ingrained habits die hard, as we all have experienced that blank, silent stare from students when asked to speak up.


In the classroom, students would rather stay as part of the 'whole class' and not stand out on their own, even if they can answer correctly. Putting them on the spot suddenly will make them feel pressured and out of place. This does not mean you cannot choose students to answer questions, it simply means asking the whole class together for an answer will bring better results. If you're lucky, every now and then, there may be a brave volunteer.


Building up students' confidence is key. This can be done through praise and support, not pressure. And what better way to do this than as a whole class?


In recent years, the official syllabus and teaching manual for not only English, but also others subjects, states many times for the teacher to encourage students and tell them that it is fine to make mistakes. As humans we learn from our mistakes, and being at school is all about learning!


Being an English teacher at schools in Japan, whether it is as a main or assistant, we are to teach as many students as possible in a 45-50 minute time slot. Student talking time must be maximized in that short time, and it is not going to happen by asking each and every individual student (see our writing on LTTT earlier this year). Asking individual students should ideally be left for the last few minutes of class as a review of the target language.


So, whether it is introducing, drilling, or using the target language in a game/activity, try and have the class speak out as a whole, or as groups, whenever possible. There are three beneficial points if successful:


1)    Everyone is practicing the language.

2)    No one would feel left out.

3)    No awkward moment when singling out students.


Just like 'hayatteru koto' (the latest trend), the more people are involved in something the more others around will follow.

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