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non-verbal behaviour management

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by shanghai_teacher, Dec 20, 2011.

  1. Hello there, I'm new to the forums so please go easy on me if I've posted this in the wrong place! I'm a British EFL teacher in a primary school in Shanghai and am looking for some strategies to help manage one of my classes.
    To give you a bit of background, I'm in my early thirties, I taught in a UK primary school for 4 years (including a GTP year), and have come out to China for a year with my OH who has been relocated over here with work. In the UK I would say my behaviour management was reasonable.
    In China, I teach 20 different classes and see them once or twice a week, and 19 out of 20 of them are great, but there's one class (9-10 year olds) that are a bit of a nightmare. The school says they are difficult. However they are particularly difficult with me! The problem is low level disruption from about 10 of the 40(!) students to the extent that as a whole they are extremely difficult to teach. Calling out to each other across the room (in Chinese), talking, making raspberry noises while I'm looking away.... My Chinese is quite limited, I'm not supposed to be talking to them in Chinese at all anyway, but they are a very low ability class and thus their English is very weak. That doesn't excuse their behaviour though. My other classes of similar age and ability cover twice as much in a lesson. All in all it is very difficult to maitain a reasonable level of order! I was therefore wondering if anyone has any good non-verbal strategies that I could try?
    Other than speak to the Chinese staff to ask about a behaviour policy, which was not forthcoming, here are some strategies I'm using: Quick fire instructions (stand up, touch your head, clap your hands...) to distract them from the misbehaviour. I think this is OK once in a lesson but is a bit repetitive/babyish to use too much. Counting down and they have to be looking at me when I get to 1 - seems to get them quiet for a moment, but then they get distracted again. Little gestures to individuals like an Austin Powers style 'I'm looking at you' or a 'zippit'. Tiny penny sweets for the students who have behaved well at the end of the lesson - the other students aren't happy not to get one but they still muck around and don't earn their sweet the following lesson! Sitting down and waiting - this does get them very quiet for a few moments but then they kick off again. I absolutely refuse to talk over them, but it results in a very disjointed lesson.
    Anyway, I'm sorry I've rambled on. Any help gratefully received.
     
  2. Hello there, I'm new to the forums so please go easy on me if I've posted this in the wrong place! I'm a British EFL teacher in a primary school in Shanghai and am looking for some strategies to help manage one of my classes.
    To give you a bit of background, I'm in my early thirties, I taught in a UK primary school for 4 years (including a GTP year), and have come out to China for a year with my OH who has been relocated over here with work. In the UK I would say my behaviour management was reasonable.
    In China, I teach 20 different classes and see them once or twice a week, and 19 out of 20 of them are great, but there's one class (9-10 year olds) that are a bit of a nightmare. The school says they are difficult. However they are particularly difficult with me! The problem is low level disruption from about 10 of the 40(!) students to the extent that as a whole they are extremely difficult to teach. Calling out to each other across the room (in Chinese), talking, making raspberry noises while I'm looking away.... My Chinese is quite limited, I'm not supposed to be talking to them in Chinese at all anyway, but they are a very low ability class and thus their English is very weak. That doesn't excuse their behaviour though. My other classes of similar age and ability cover twice as much in a lesson. All in all it is very difficult to maitain a reasonable level of order! I was therefore wondering if anyone has any good non-verbal strategies that I could try?
    Other than speak to the Chinese staff to ask about a behaviour policy, which was not forthcoming, here are some strategies I'm using: Quick fire instructions (stand up, touch your head, clap your hands...) to distract them from the misbehaviour. I think this is OK once in a lesson but is a bit repetitive/babyish to use too much. Counting down and they have to be looking at me when I get to 1 - seems to get them quiet for a moment, but then they get distracted again. Little gestures to individuals like an Austin Powers style 'I'm looking at you' or a 'zippit'. Tiny penny sweets for the students who have behaved well at the end of the lesson - the other students aren't happy not to get one but they still muck around and don't earn their sweet the following lesson! Sitting down and waiting - this does get them very quiet for a few moments but then they kick off again. I absolutely refuse to talk over them, but it results in a very disjointed lesson.
    Anyway, I'm sorry I've rambled on. Any help gratefully received.
     
  3. Are you allowed to issue detentions? Or some other sanction? Because I think you're fighting a harder battle without some sort of consequence that they do not want.
    Once you know what sanctions you can allocate, you can set up some visual reminders, via ladders, or similar.
     
  4. That sounds tough. When I worked abroad I had similar problems.

    I found that a fairly effective non-verbal technique is to rest my hand on the desk of the person talking just to get in their space a bit without making a big deal of anything. Also not being afraid to 'own' the room, circulating everywhere and even sneaking behind students! I think they pick up on it if there are certain areas of the classroom you tend not to wander into. I also address the class from different parts of the room, standing behind the worst offenders. If you can get away with it rows are obviously the best seating arrangement so they can't see each other.

    Also, don't be afraid to just stand back and quietly assess the situation. Watch them carefully and suss them out (perhaps pretend to write things about them in a book too, as though you're keeping record). Choose main culprits and split them up/seat them at the front. Stare them out with folded arms and occasionally whisper into one of their ears in a very low, very quiet voice (I've watched other teachers do this and it's really ominous) I don't think it matters so much what you say, but it's a good message to others who will be wondering. Also, if you're not already, try to dress formally, which will signal that you mean business.

    Finally, keep praising those who do behave, I guess that's easier said when their English isn't great. I'm thinking lots of nodding and easily comprehended words of encouragement.

    Hope that you might be able to use some of those techniques. A class of 40 would be really tough for anyone though, I'm sure. Eek! Good luck.
     
  5. Thank you both for your replies. It just occurred to me after writing my message that UK schools will now be on holiday, so I really appreciate you taking the time to respond.
    I have tried to ask about whether there are any detentions or similar, but didn't really get a straight response. Everything seems to depend quite a lot on the individual teachers and some teachers do seem to keep students after school to catch up on work. I think I will ask if I can do this, and set up some sort of visual system so the students know where they stand.
    I really like the idea of Bobbie's strategies too, particularly the idea moving round the room and whispering to the students. I do some of these things naturally with my better behaved classes, where I'm more relaxed and less 'on edge', but I think I've lost some confidence with this class.
     
  6. kittylion

    kittylion Senior commenter

    I would definitely write notes about them in a notebook - this would be particularly powerful as it will be in another language and even if they sneak a look they won't be able to understand it. Look at your watch or even take a timer in and time them and then see if you can keep some behind if you have them before a break - even if it's only literally for 2 minutes. Time them on a kitchen timer so that they make the connection between you looking at the timer when they're talking and the amount of time they have to stay.
     

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