02 June, 2019

Effective classroom management part 1: be the boss!

by Michael Brand



Some of you may have noticed that I am sharing part of a quote attributed to Socrates from 400 BC. I have seen it used as a starting point for many a classroom management seminar, with the speaker aiming to show that teachers have been dealing with naughty students for millennia. However, the contents of training workshops on classroom management can of course vary wildly: it’s such a broad area. In many ways ‘How to be a good classroom manager’ is the same as ‘How to be a good teacher.’ With this in mind, I’ll be splitting this post into a series of three blog posts, each looking at a different ingredient in the recipe for good classroom management.


Before beginning, let’s try to define our terms. The point of these posts is to provide practical advice on how to approach classroom management and by that I mean that students are engaged in their lessons and not exhibiting off-task or disruptive behaviour. The latter follows on from the former, of course. The posts are written with teens in mind: readers of this blog may include teachers from state and private schools as well as from private language academies, teachers who learned about classroom management as part of the syllabus on a teaching qualification, or teachers who gained a qualification in TEFL in an adult context and before they knew it had a classroom of unruly teenagers thrust in front of them. I believe the points dealt with here will be relevant to teachers in all of these contexts.

I will also point out that I have seen lots of excellent classroom managers with very different styles and to a certain degree it’s about finding what works for you. Nevertheless, this cannot descend into an exercise in fence-sitting and although these posts won’t constitute a definitive guide, I will be sticking my neck out on what I think works (feel free to disagree!), based on what I remember as a pupil (all teachers would do well to think back to this), what I learned as a teacher (in state, state-assisted and private secondary schools), what I’ve experienced as a teacher trainer and what I have read. Let’s get started on part 1!

Classroom management part 1: be the boss!
I entered into a lengthy discussion with a colleague over the use of the word ‘boss’ because of the unsavoury authoritarian connotations it might evoke, but I am going to persist with its use. By ‘boss’ I do not mean a confrontational dictator who inspires fear in their students, but rather a clear, assertive teacher who exudes a calm air of authority. This need not be at odds with some of the changes that education has seen, such as a move towards student-centred classrooms and co-operative learning and we’ll be considering these aspects in the second and third posts. The fact remains that the teacher is in charge. We can and should be friendly, but we are not the students’ friend as such. Let’s look at some practical guidelines.

Start as you mean to go on

Start what?

The school year. Set out your expectations (which should be very high) at the start of the year and be consistent. It’s a simple and oft-repeated piece of advice but one that can get forgotten as things get busy. But if students really do get the impression that you say what you mean and you mean what you say, they will respect you. Students like consistent teachers because they provide security and they know where they stand. Conversely, students will immediately latch on to teachers who don’t stick to their guns and once you get this reputation, it’s hard to recover. Of course, this pointer is parenting advice as much as it’s teaching advice. I recall when I was in the park once and one of my son’s friends, Jaime, threw some sand. “Jaime, if you throw sand again, we’re going home,” warned his mum. Jaime throws sand again. “Jaime, I’m warning you, we’re going home.” Jaime throws sand again. “Jaime, next time we really are going home.” Repeat ad infinitum. Doh! Never make an empty threat.

The lesson. This isn’t mentioned as much as the above, but it’s key. When does the lesson start? When the teacher does the register or outlines the lesson objectives? It starts before students come in to the classroom. How do they come in? Like a proverbial herd of elephants? Do they continue in ‘herd-mode’ until the teacher calls for order? The tone for the lesson has already been set. We need to provide clear guidelines on how we want our students to enter the classroom and what they need to do once they are in there: we need a routine. Of course (and this is a general point) we would praise the students who are following our guidelines, before pulling up those who are not, but more on praise in the next installment. If the students have to be in the classroom before the teacher arrives, we need acknowledgement once we are at the door and not after: we don’t want to be dodging paper airplanes on our way to the front of the class. It has to do with how students think they can behave in our presence and that doesn’t only include when we’re ‘teaching’. If a teacher walks down a corridor, comes across two pupils fighting and steps around the fray (I’ve seen it happen), just think about what kind of signal we’re sending out!

A note on expectations and procedures (AKA ‘rules’)

We need to be clear and direct here and state in concrete terms. A rule like ‘Respect the teacher’ or ‘Respect your classmates’ isn’t much good without explanation as it could mean just about anything and is open to interpretation. Let’s start with a general concept and move to a specific expectation. The teacher can suggest ‘respecting your classmates’ to students and elicit concrete examples from them on what would or would not constitute following the rules (such as interrupting your classmate when they’re speaking – indeed, effective turn-taking is a key skill in the English class). This way we’re giving the students ownership of the rules, even if we’ve basically elicited what we wanted to hear and they’ve practiced their English while helping to come up with them.

Take responsibility

In one of the schools I worked in, I was the tutor for a class of twenty-five 16 year-old boys. According to school policy I was responsible for their discipline and problems were to be reported to me. This of course removed authority from their other teachers and mine was reinforced. Obviously there are times when it is necessary to ask for support from your head-of-year / pastoral manager and a good behaviour management policy will include some kind of ladder approach (whereby sanctions get increasingly serious) which is transparent (so students, teachers and parents know exactly where they stand). However, it is still best for the classroom teacher to sort out problems on their own wherever possible. This will mean investing time, particularly at the start of the year, but boy, it is worth it in the long run. The majority of disruption in class is ‘low-level’ (such as students interrupting the teacher) and may exist for the simple reason that it can be fun for students to misbehave (think back to your time as a pupil). If we’re prepared to ‘invest’ our break times at the start of the year to deal with the students who won’t play ball, our teaching lives will be easier in the long run.

Set a good pace

Effective classroom management part 1: be the boss! - Illustration by Lauren RolwingOur classroom isn’t the army, but neither are gentle, meandering lessons going to do us any favours. Timing activities (dynamite in the classroom, anyone?) helps to keep students focused on the task in hand. Managing the pace of a lesson takes a bit of practice (we’ll need to attend to the needs of the students who find the material more difficult, but mixed-ability classes and differentiation is a topic for another day), but I’ve seen that brisk and purposeful lessons are the most effective when it comes to keeping students on task. Of course, if you’re preparing English language exams a sense of timing is vital for students: this could be getting a feel for what it’s like to compare pictures for a minute, or dividing up activities in a reading exam so students don’t dedicate half their time to reading one of half a dozen texts.

Shouting and sending students out

Both of these are overused. If we find ourselves shouting on a regular basis we should stop because it isn’t having an effect. I once knew a teacher who, when she wanted her students to believe she was very angry (good teachers are good actors in control of their emotions), would speak in a barely audible whisper. Students would strain to hear her voice, but were terrified at the same time! We’re not after maximum decibel-levels, rather variation. Similarly, I worked in a school where students were sent out left, right and centre. There were always a dozen or so students milling around the secondary corridors, all of whom had been sent out. This presents obvious problems, but to make matters worse, being sent out was in itself ‘the punishment’, that’s to say there was little further follow-up. As far as humanly possible, deal with the student yourself (see ‘take responsibility’) in the classroom.

And remember, it’s not personal  

Just as we’ll want our students to test linguistic boundaries in their English lessons, we as teachers should remember that they’re teenagers and it’s therefore their job to test the boundaries of what’s acceptable behaviour. They don’t have a personal vendetta against us! At least most of them don’t. This can be easier said than done, but as far as possible, we want to keep thoughts about students’ misbehaviour within the school walls, rather than taking them home with us. Try to be philosophical and find some relaxation techniques to help you to unwind.

Wait, there’s more!

In this post we’ve largely been looking at discipline, but that’s only one piece in the puzzle of effective classroom management.

Source: http://eltlearningjourneys.com/

Read, Learn & Flourish!

29 August, 2018

Tips to make Social Media Groups Vibrant and Inspiring:

In the current age of Social Media and virtual groups, we interact with people from different corners of the world having different aspirations and views. In such a situation to make our interaction effective and inspiring we have to follow certain ethics.

Here are few tips to make a virtual social group vibrant and inspiring:

1. Always learn to appreciate other people's posts, even if they are not your friend:

It makes them feel important and encouraged to come up with something more positive.

2. Never run people down on the platform in a group chat:

You will cause them to withdraw and will never come up with their objective views on issues.

3. When you see something you don't like from a member, inbox the person:

Don't attack him/her on the platform publicly

4. Never insult or use unpleasant languages on members:

You expose your uncultured manners and attitude to people and may turn the platform to combat ground.

5. Be quick to say sorry and apologize when u have erred:

It helps to bring down the tension which your utterances must have created.

6. Don't try to enforce your ideas or suggestions on members:

Nobody has monopoly of knowledge, allow majority conclusions to prevail on issues.

7. Never settle scores with anybody on a general group chat:

It will give others the opportunity to take sides, thereby causing others to withdraw.

8. When anyone is celebrating, he/she may not need to be your friend before you celebrate with that person:

It's the spirit of brotherliness

9. Some have the gift of talking and others the gift of reading:

Learn to contribute to the group... Even if it is just using the symbol 👍... It makes people know that you appreciate the group.

There are 3 types of posts you will always see on a group chat

(A) Offensive posts:

Don't attack the person, it could be a mistake.

(B) lnspirational/educative posts:

Commend the person.. Don't just read and keep quiet.

 (C) Meaningless/wrong/uninformed posts:

Start by appreciating the writer, then correct the information, but don't hush  him/her up with condemnation. 
                                                         
Kindly be affectionate to one another......most of us have never met nor may even ever meet each other face to face.....so why have any bitterness.

Sharing and caring is divine...

05 July, 2018

Tips to improve yourself within a month?

21 ideas:

    1. Detoxify your speech. Reduce the use of cuss words. Be polite.
    2. Read everyday. Doesn’t matter what. Choose whatever interests you.
    3. Promise yourself that you will never talk rudely to your parents. They never deserve it.
    4. Observe people around you. Imbibe their virtues.
    5. Spend some time with nature everyday.
    6. Feed the stray animals. Yes, it feels good to feed the hungry.
    7. No ego. No ego. No ego. Just learn, learn and learn.
    8. Do not hesitate to clarify a doubt. “He who asks a question remains fool for 5 minutes. He who does not ask remains a fool forever”.
    9. Whatever you do, do it with full involvement. That’s meditation.
    10.Keep distance from people who give you negative vibes but never hold grudges.
    11. Stop comparing yourself with . If you won’t stop, you will never know your own potential.
    12. “The biggest failure in life is the failure to try”. Always remember this.
    13. “I cried as I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet”. Never complain.
    14. Plan your day. It will take a few minutes but will save your days.
    15. Everyday, for a few minutes, sit in silence. I mean sit with yourself. Just yourself. Magic will flow.
    16. In a healthy body resides a healthy mind. Do not litter it with junk.
    17. For one month, eat home cooked meals.
    18. Keep your body hydrated at all times. Practice drinking 8–10 glasses of water.
    19. Make a habit to eat at least one serving of raw vegetable salad on a daily basis.
    20. Take care of your health. “He who has health has hope and he who has hope has everything”.
    21. Life is short. Life is simple. Do not complicate it. Don’t forget to smile..

Have a great life 😊

03 July, 2018

A lesson from this world Cup on leadership:


Ronaldo and Messi (arguably 2 best current players in the world) disappeared from World Cup without taking their teams to Quarter Finals.  The leadership lesson is simple - you can take your organization to a level with your brilliance but it’s only Team that can make you a Leader & Winner. Brilliant Leaders cannot make a team succeed but only a bunch of committed capable people with a purpose, higher than personal glory, guided by humble leader can make a team winner.

Be a selfless leader...😊

Christiano Ronaldo's lesson!


When he received one of his awards recently, Ronaldo dedicated it to a certain ... Alberto Fantrau. Then said: "Yes I am a great footballer and all my success is thanks to my friend Alberto"
People looked at each other and said, "Who is this Mr. Fantrau?"
Then Ronaldo went on: "We played together in a youth team. When Sporting of Lisbon recruiters came to observe us, they told us that the striker who scored the most goals will be recruited into the sports academy.
That day we won 3-0. I scored the first goal and then Albert scored the 2nd with the head. And then the 3rd goal was the one that impressed everyone. Alberto started from the wing, then found himself face to face with the keeper, dribbled the goalkeeper and all he had to do was push the ball into the empty goal. In the meantime I was running to his side. And instead of shooting into the empty goal, Alberto decided to pass the ball to me and I scored. This is how I find myself at the Sporting Lisbon Academy. After the game I went to him, and asked him "why did you do that?" And he replied, "Because I know that you are better than I"
Curious to know more, the journalists began to investigate and were able to meet this Alberto Fantrau to ask him if the story told by Ronaldo is true, and he confirmed it, adding that his career as a footballer ended after this match as it was the only opportunity to become professional and since that time he has remained unemployed.
However, journalists, observing his luxurious house and his Mercedes parked in the garage asked Alberto "but being unemployed how could you have such a house and car and living so luxuriously? You seem rather comfortable physically " Alberto's answer: "All that? .. is a gift from Ronaldo
Moral of this story:
Let us ask ourselves the following question: How many of us have ever done something like Ronaldo and Alberto? On the contrary, many of us show the opposite of this story showing selfishness and ingratitude to their mates.
Friends! Let's help each other so that we are proud of the success of our brothers / sisters / friends / relatives
And when we help a person succeed, the latter must never forget those who contributed to this success in his life.
And above all, we should never forget that God is watching and judging us.


Be part of another person's success

28 May, 2018

Blessed Granny - By HH Sivarama Swami

Dear Sivarama Swami,

Hare Krsna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. I hope you do not mind my writing to you. I have never written to a spiritual master before. You do not know me. My name is Bhaktin Dora and I live in Pecs (Hungary). I am 14 years old, and I live at home with my mother and older sister.

Some years ago I went to the Hare Krsna Festival with a friend. I was not very interested, but I enjoyed the chanting and dancing at the end. After it was over I bought a book, The Science of Self-Realization. I do not know why; generally I never read. I think it was because of the chanting.

I took the book home and cannot remember what happened to it. One day my mother found it and was very angry with me. She thought that I was reading this kind of thing. You see, our family members are all very strict Catholics. They thought Krsna consciousness was some kind of “brainwashing.” Actually I wasn’t reading the book; I had forgotten all about it. Somehow it just “appeared.” Anyway, my mother was going to throw it away.

My grandmother, who is 68, was in the kitchen at the time. She lives in the apartment upstairs. She came in and took the book. She looked at it and scolded me in a very heavy way. I thought that would be the end of it. I did not mind so much, as I was in a lot of maya at the time.

About a week later I overheard a conversation between my mother and grandmother. Granny was saying that this was not some ordinary book. She said that what Prabhupada was saying is what Jesus Christ said and that Krsna is God. I was very surprised. She said we should listen to what Prabhupada said and chant Hare Krsna because that was the religion for this age. There was a lot of talk about how Christianity was no more and no one was following the Bible but what Prabhupada said was pure and perfect.

Things really took a turn from there. One day my grandmother visited the nama-hatta [local Krsna center] here and began to chant on beads. She also began to buy Prabhupada’s books one by one. She was spending all her pension buying what she called the “beautiful holy Bhagavatam.” Sometimes she could only afford to eat potatoes, but she kept buying the books. The devotees even came to her flat and helped her set up an altar. When I went upstairs, there were Krsna pictures everywhere.

That was really the beginning. One night Granny had a dream about Prabhupada. Something really happened to her then. I don’t know what it was, but she began to get very enthusiastic. Next she began to get the whole family involved. I mean, not just me and my mother and sister, but her two sons, their wives and six children, as well as her brothers, sisters, and relatives. Before, she used to carry a Bible with her and quote Jesus Christ. Now she has a Bhagavad-gita and quotes “the good Lord Prabhupada.” She became a veritable transcendental terror. Everyone in the family has to chant at least one round a day. In addition Granny made everyone become a vegetarian, including my dog Sikra, and we offer our food to a picture of Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya.

Now I am also getting out of maya and chanting and reading a little also. Where I go to school my friends inquire about Krsna, since they know I am a devotee. The whole family goes to the nama-hatta, all sixteen of us. During the Christmas marathon [for book distribution], we all tried to distribute Prabhupada’s books. Even Granny would take books with her to the market and sell them to the vendors. Everyone is afraid of her because she is fearless. They all think she has gone crazy, but she doesn’t care.

Now she is saving to go to Budapest to see the newly installed Deities. She has heard that Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda “came” to Hungary and are being worshiped there by the devotees. She says she wants to see God just once in this life.

At this year’s Hare Krsna festival, you were speaking to the guests after the kirtana. You must remember my grandmother because she came and sat right beside you and asked so many questions. At the end when you stood to leave, she even kissed your hand, remember? I also wanted to ask a question, but I was shy. Could I please ask you now? I hope you do not mind, Maharaja.

I want to know what kind of man Srila Prabhupada was. He must be so dear to Krsna to have spread this message all over the world. What are these books that changed my family so much? How is it possible that he can speak so powerfully through them? You must feel very fortunate to be his disciple. How great a man he is! Sometimes when my Granny chants in front of a picture of Krsna she cries. How does Prabhupada do that? I want to cry like that too. Granny dreams of Prabhupada, and sometimes she talks to his picture. Although it says on the cover of the book that he passed away, is Prabhupada really dead, or is he still alive? Do you think I can meet him some day?

I am sorry that I have gone on so. I would like to be a good devotee one day and help you and Prabhupada spread Krsna consciousness. Please could you answer my questions?

Your servant,
Bhaktin Dora

Sivarama Swami: Srila Prabhupada, what is this brand of mercy that you gave this old lady I just barely met, which you never gave me? She never met you, never saw devotees. She is not even initiated by you. What is this kindness that you bestow upon her, which you do not give me, your “fortunate disciple”?

What am I referring to? It is just this. After having come in contact with you for just a few months, what inspiration did you give this Granny in that dream? What did you move in her heart that made her change her life in its final days, that made her turn against the current of banality and tradition and strike out alone to change her world? No sympathy, no association, no institutional support. Boldness I do not possess, changes I do not have strength to make.

Srila Prabhupada, I want to know what you say to her from your picture when she talks to you? I have so many pictures. You do not speak to me through them.

Although I worship Deities daily, I continue to see them as made of marble and wood. How is it this old lady has the conviction that God has “come” to her country? Why have you not given such vision to me? I want to cry like that too. When will you give me that mercy?

Srila Prabhupada, this is one letter, from one girl who came in contact with you. How many millions of such souls are there who have yet to write, who are directly experiencing your mercy daily, who read your books with implicit faith, whom you talk to in dreams and pictures, whose lives you change abruptly and reward with tears when chanting the holy names?

How many people cross the boundaries of rules and regulations by the strong boat of your mercy and practice and taste Krsna consciousness in a realm beyond logic and good fortune? When will you one day bestow some of this special mercy upon me that you give them?

If I am not to acquire it directly, even after begging for it, then I will serve such souls who have reached your mission. I will offer them prasadam, give them your books, and show them how to practice. I will chant with them. Thus I can hope to gain a new perspective of your greatness, even though I may never fully understand it.

Your insignificant servant,
Sivarama Swami