Classroom Management FAQ

Classes don’t always behave as you might expect. When things go awry, it’s nice to have some alternatives.

You need to get your class quiet so that you can teach them new ideas.

  • Develop some sort of ritual in advance (such as a hand movement, like the hokey-pokey or the “awkward turtle”) that students will associate with needing to be quiet; when they see other students performing the ritual, it signals them to do the same and immediately stop talking.
  • Be polite by saying, “Excuse me,” and, “May I have your attention, please?” but in a normal voice, not yelling. If this is not effective after several tries, tell a student to pass the message to her/his neighbour, who will pass it to the next student, and so forth.
  • Stand over a talking student’s shoulder and hover awkwardly until they look up to see what is happening. Then repeat your request for silence.

No students raise their hands to answer your questions.

  • First, give the students some time. Since they are not experts in the subject like you are, they will not be able to come up with the answers as quickly.
  • Maybe the wording of the original question was confusing to everyone but you. Try rephrasing using simpler language (or perhaps a simpler question altogether).
  • Perhaps the students are not ready to answer the question yet because they do not have enough understanding to determine the answer. Go back a step and explain the topic some more before asking again.
  • Perhaps the students are simply uncomfortable speaking in public (perhaps they are introverted or have social anxiety). Have the students discuss the question in pairs, give them time to arrive at an answer and then offer an alternative way for them to submit it.

The same two or three students always answer your questions.

  • Ask the class not to put their hands up right away after a question; give the class a minute or two to think about the answer first. This might give struggling students more time to think, making it more likely they would be able to answer.
  • In group activities, pair the “expert” students up with some of the struggling students and tell them that they should work together on the question until an answer is found and everyone is able to explain it. Then move about the classroom and answer questions.

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