Friday, March 13, 2009

Managing the Classroom

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mhema said...

There was a group of students. All boisterous.Rude. Loud. Bigger in size and voice. Refuse to speak in English. They don't carry their text books or do homework. They sit with their legs on the table.They walk in and out all they like. They answer calls in class. Eat in the labs. And the list goes on.... This was the case of my very first class and this went on for a whole week! I wanted to be pleasant and approachable on the first day then i realised that being a young lecturer with students way bigger than me, plesant and approachable is like a suicide call. I started off with my ground rules and emphasied on MY authority as the ONLY authority in class. Penalised them for every small mistake just to teach them a lesson. Sent a few to the HOD for disciplinary warnings. They needed to know that i'm serious about what i say. After a week, i gained some control. They brought their books and completed their homework on time. Those who were still stubborn were asked to leave until they can walk in with their egos left outside the door. As students with examinations nearing, this wasn't a game they could afford to play for long. Finally, they gave in and apologized. I will never forget this experience because this is the class that changed my teaching style from student friendly to stern and firm. Nowdays, i don't take risks. I'm stern and firm right from the start.

Anonymous said...

It was interesting reading about your first teaching assignment. I agree that students do challenge your patience and authority at times, and laying your ground rules does help. I would like to also say that being "STRICT is not about being MEAN". Exercise your authority with discretion and good judgement. Remember what you "PERMIT in your class is also what you PROMOTE". Inspire good habits i.e. postive attitude, hardworking, discipline etc. Instill good manners in class and work together with students to come up with Do's and Don'ts for the class. Getting them involved in developing the D and D list will give them a sense of ownership and responsibility to maintain good conduct in the class. I wish you all the best and would like to remind you that you have the best job.
"Great leaders and successful men were all taught by teachers before they became famous."

mhema said...

Dear anonymous,

I agree with you that Strict does not have to be Mean. That's very true. I'm sorry if it was implied that i was mean. :) All the same, if i had involved the students to develop the D & D list, i'd never had completed the syllabus. They are an exceptional batch. The Strict part was only used to bring the class to order. Once the class became manageable, lecturers can relax and give space to students to speak up as well. I admire your positive attitude and inspiration. Your words give assurance and hope that not all first classes are as bad as the one i had.

Anonymous said...

Dear Hema,
I understand that completing the syllabus is important and would not expect you to do any less. I am only suggesting that while teaching your class also instill good habits like punctuality, good manners, proactive participation, your students. I am sure you are already doing all these and I would like to commend you for your good work. I encourage you to persevere, continue to enjoy teaching and also your students.

Anonymous said...

Liz said........

I agree with setting ground rules for classroom management. We need to let students know what is expected from them. In fact, it’s also fair to students as ultimately, they are the one who will benefit from it if the class is managed well & run smoothly. I think lecturer shall also follow the ground rules to avoid students finding excuses not to follow. E.g. if one of the rule says hp shall be in silence mode then lecturer better make sure his/hers also. I also think that lecturer shall treat students as adults & make them understand they are adult & they should take their own responsibility. I believe when we’re treated as an adult we’ll behave like adult. But when we’re treated as dependant then we’ll be very dependent. I don’t see lecturer bugging students to pass assignments, enroll for next semester in UK during my study there but why do we have such situation here?

I don’t have experience in teaching college students but I ever had a bad experience in one of my Call Center Representative training. There was 1 class, when I walked into the class, all my trainees are big size & many of them are guys. When they saw me, they showed an “unbelievable” look…………….oh no, is this my trainer???

I ignored their expression, started the orientation & training. They were very uncooperative, challenged me from time to time etc. I had been very patient with them until one day when one of them argued nonsense with me. I threw him back my anger & told him off I’m welcome with constructive comment but not nonsense. I told him if he continues like that I’m going to send him back to his company & write a report to his boss. I think I must be very angry that time because the atmosphere was very weird that time :p. After the class, I did some reflection & I regretted to throw my anger to them. I think I was a bit too sensitive at that time. In the subsequent class, I took it as nothing happen before & trained as per normal. After that incident, the trainees’ attitude had improved a lot though they still create disturbance sometimes. I just chose to ignore & sometimes I “tuned” myself to their “channel”. Surprisingly, my relationship with the trainees improved along the classes. They even shared with me what had I missed out in the training after they were released back to Call Center :p

Anonymous said...

Ah Hema!
The description fits a group I taught on my first appointment. Well they "tried it" on the first day but I quickly showed them "towering into the sky does not measure age and wisdom" and "if one plays with the the corpse's eyes one finds worms"
I can't explain but I "love" to meet such students where I quickly draw my line of dichotomy. In such situations I utterly disregard amalgamation of interests and that's the line you towed. BRAVO ZULU!

Brian said...

hmm, i'm pretty lucky i had no trouble with my bunch. They were very quiet, until i told them to speak up. :)

But generally, the only worry-some part about teaching is not knowing or being unsure about what you teach. That was my only problem in the first class. Since i was teaching more out of experience than by syllabus, it was hectic when they threw questions at me. (i was working with pretty much uncomplete notes from a previous source, so my answers were pretty dumb.. so to speak)

But once i got some help and did some of my own research, everything fell into place. Well, moral of the story is you will always have someone more experienced to ask the questions and some times, confidence plays a huge roll in teaching.

Anonymous said...

Elaborations on Design Three:

As traditional designs keep students’ discipline and comfort in mind, we think it is high time teachers’ discipline is also taken into consideration. As some teachers have the habit of teaching into other teacher’s time, the programmed lift is designed to monitor the entry and departure of times of teachers. This design places the staffroom underground and the lift programmed lift transports the teachers to the classrooms. Here accessibility to the staircase is restricted to the students and teachers who use it do not find access to staffroom. The smart board will also help tremendously, with KDU’s drive for technology in teaching -learning methods. In order to enhance audio based learning the public address (PA) system is provided. The seats are designed with close similarity to those in lecture theatres but can be swung around to accommodate both group discussions and student- centred learning. Fittings which are commonly found in a classroom are also considered.
As the task demanded this design is the product of creativity by the team members. Moreover although the focus of the task was originality this was not done at the expense of teaching-learning purpose accomplishments.

Peter Hammond
Hema Madhavan

Anonymous said...

I am truly grateful that i have received very good comments on how to handle a challenging class. This is of great benefit to me as i am rather new to this line and a new point of view has made me see the various ways to approach the students. Thank you.

And the blogger who cheered for Zulu, i think you are aware of the true scenario as you shared the same class and face almost similar problems. :) Guess, we've got alot to learn from the experienced.

Alwyn, we should have more "chat" sessions. This is very effective!