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How to Control a Classroom
With increasingly availability of the Higher Technical Educational facilities at nominal fees and without much of competition, specially Engineering, it is observed that the parents are getting their wards admitted for Engineering education even if the prospective student is not interested or does not have aptitude for it. The main reason for this, in most cases, is that the parents, who themselves may not be suitably educated, think that by doing this they may be able to achieve higher social status. Due to the fact that the student in such cases is not motivated and is not willing to undertake studies seriously the teacher has additional problem of controlling and motivating such students. His role becomes very challenging as he has dual task of taking measures to ensure that such students are encouraged to undertake studies and at the same time they do not disturb the class where most of the students may be interested.
Such students tend to take advantage of any situation to demonstrate their power and their unwillingness to study. They also tend to create such situations in the class by which the teacher is not allowed to proceed any further with the curriculum; few of the situations can be as follows:
(a) Create noise whenever the teacher faces the board.
(b) Asking questions which may be irrelevant and not connected to the current topic.
(c) Saying that they did not understand what has been taught or arguing on an invalid point thereby wasting the valuable time of the class.
(d) Coming late deliberately and asking for permission to enter thereby disturbing the class.
(e) Throwing chalk pieces or flying paper airplanes whenever teacher is not facing them.
(f) In extreme cases they may threat the teacher to face the consequences if s/he fails them in the internal marks.
(g) Not attending the Lab sessions.
(h) Complaining to college authorities about the teacher and his behavior or the way he teaches.
To tackle above listed problems following methodology is suggested:
1. Face the class: Do not give a chance to the mischievous students to be not under watch. There are number of ways to do that;
(a) Saving time on board work: The thing that a student is most afraid is coming to the board and facing the class. Use this to your advantage. Call students on the board to write what you otherwise would have written. Most of the time it may be possible to write on the board while still facing the students. However in cases when there are long spells of writings to be done like in case of drawing a diagram or making a table which forces the teacher to face the board, it may be good idea to call a student on board to draw the diagram on the board. In such cases one can safely target the potential problem creator. If you do that there are chances that next time he will keep mum.
(b) Use teaching aids to your advantage. It may be possible to use the over head projector or LCD projector very effectively. In case of over head projector it may be remembered to use masking very efficiently. By masking you flash only relevant portion of the slide at a time instead of showing complete slide. In case of text you may choose to show only one line at a time so that student's attention is not drawn towards what you would come up next.
(c) Eye to Eye contact: Maintaining eye to eye contact is one of the most important means for controlling the students. With little practice one can read the eyes to know what is the status of his mind, is he thinking of creating some mischief or is in dreams of he has got a question mark in his eyes. The first step is to identify such students who may indulge in such activities. May be such students are sitting in a group, in such cases the teacher should attempt to break the group. The teacher should be very particular to give some extra attention to identified students by maintaining eye contact and asking occasional questions. Normally teachers have a tendency to ignore such students which amounts to running away from the problem. Making the student to feel that he is important to the teacher will control him to quite an extent.
2. Interactive sessions: Lectures should not become monologue. Emphasis should be to involve the students in class participation. Following are some suggestions:-
(a) For example instead of giving a direct answer for some topic under discussion the teacher may ask the students to suggest some answers themselves, he may even nominate some students to suggest answers. The important thing to remember is that the students who are not willing to participate should invariably be thrown upon some questions and they should be encouraged to participate even if they give wrong answers. By criticizing them for giving wrong answer they will shy away to give answer next time and will distance themselves further away from the class. The teacher can discuss the answer given and diplomatically correct them as the answer is discussed with the class.
(b) One more technique that may be very powerful is that any question thrown by the student to the teacher may not be directly answered by the teacher himself and the teacher throws the same question to the class for any one to answer. Any one answering such question may be suitably rewarded by the teacher. This will keep the interest of the class and motivate them to involve themselves and at the same time the teacher will come to know the extent to which the students have understood the subject.
3. Tackling students making noise: Never attempt to speak over the group. It is far more important to identify one particular student who may be the king pin and target him. If you need, stop whatever you are doing or saying and stare at the student creating problem. Keep your mouth closed and simply watch them. Natural instincts give us all the ability to recognize when someone is staring at us and to react to it. Make certain that your eyes focus on each student in the group which was talking until they cease. You can tell the target student that it is either you or me who can talk, you can also add that there must be some thing very important than the subject, so important that you have to discuss, even at the cost of the lecture, so please go ahead and whole class will wait for you to finish.
4. Call each student by name: It is not difficult to remember all the names in a class. The best way of remembering the names is that you call the attendance by name instead of calling them by their roll number and each time you take some name make sure that you look at that particular student. Whenever some student makes some noise it is better that you call him by name, it will be very effective measure for controlling him. Even out side the class if you see such students, call them by name this is bound to inculcate some sense of discipline and fear in them.
5. Discuss the evaluation scheme before start of the teaching: It may be good idea to announce the detailed evaluation scheme in advance. One should be talking about the philosophy that the marks are not awarded by the teacher but instead the marks are earned by the student. Let the student know about each mark from where it comes. After that the teacher will not be under the pressure if the student earn less marks. The students on their part will also be little more careful for the assignments given to them and in most cases they will be able to calculate their internal marks precisely.
6. Motivate them for serious study: Explain that you would like them to learn and not to cram but only they can control the first part. Explain that there is no room for cramming as it may result in good marks but will result in disaster in the Job interview. It may be explained that good mark sheet may not necessarily result in good job. It will be useful to quote the real life examples from past batches. Better still may be to call past students to interact with them where they can share their experiences.
7. Identify and use the students: It will be good idea to use huge resource of manpower at your disposal to your advantage. Remember that every individual has some unique quality. The trick is to identify this and strike a personal rapport with the individual students to use his quality to your advantage. It may be possible to identify the leaders in the groups with little attention. Next step would be to woo them to your side to control your classroom through them. The class leader is not necessarily the best student or the most socially acceptable student, but is one that others follow. Find a way to win them over and to use their abilities to your advantage. Always acknowledge the strength of each student in the class.
8. Never loose control on your self when you control your classroom: Remember you are the boss in the classroom. Never reveal any weakness that can be used by students against you. It may be useful to watch your own video recording of the lecture which you may have delivered. It may happen that you are using some of the phrases excessively or may be making some gestures very often which can be mimicked by the students.
9. Need for dressing well and preparing well: It is important that the teacher is always well dressed, is ready with the subject and has acquired in-depth knowledge of the subject and is sympathetic towards the students. If a student makes an odd remark, there is no hurry to answer back. Time will come when you will catch the same very student on wrong footings and correct him while reminding him of his earlier remark.
If care is taken to ensure that above points are ensured at appropriate time most of the class room related problems can be tackled by the teacher himself adequately with out having to report the matter to higher authorities.