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BANGKOK 20 April 2019 19:53
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Harry Palmer

Classroom Management (discipline)

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one question that will be in the forefront wherever teachers gather is that of discipline. how do we keep the students on-task & not fiddling with cellphones or gossiping to their mates, and how should we treat them when they disobey the rules? stand them in a corner with the dunces hat.... what, indeed, should those rules be? and what can we do when faced with the student who is continually disruptive and insolent?

i like to name & shame em' on the spot... in the middle of class just after the student has broken the rules... you see they just don't like lsoing face...

on occasion i have just let an unruly bunch get on with it. i sit down, keep quite & scan em with eyes of fire... untils such time they shut up...

of course you could run to the DoS & seek help but hey, you would lose face then...

sometimes i have felt that corporal punishment would be suitable but have stopped short of physically abusing them thus far, am i right?

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one question that will be in the forefront wherever teachers gather is that of discipline. how do we keep the students on-task & not fiddling with cellphones or gossiping to their mates, and how should we treat them when they disobey the rules? stand them in a corner with the dunces hat.... what, indeed, should those rules be? and what can we do when faced with the student who is continually disruptive and insolent?

i like to name & shame em' on the spot... in the middle of class just after the student has broken the rules... you see they just don't like lsoing face...

on occasion i have just let an unruly bunch get on with it. i sit down, keep quite & scan em with eyes of fire... untils such time they shut up...

of course you could run to the DoS & seek help but hey, you would lose face then...

sometimes i have felt that corporal punishment would be suitable but have stopped short of physically abusing them thus far, am i right?

Corporal punishment is the last refugee of those who lack the vision, character, and patience to be a true TEACHER and role model.

The first thing you should do when you have a disruptive class is look at YOURSELF. Are there things you could do to improve your lessons and make them more interesting? Are you moving around the classroom or are you sitting at your desk? Do you have "teacher eyes" in the back of your head yet? Are you engaging your students in topics that interest THEM?

For example, you mentioned cellphones and gossiping as major problems in your class room. Well, have you ever thought of using those things as OPPORTUNITIES?? Instead of banning cellphones from the classroom, why not use them as educational tools? Make a lesson plan that requires the kids to make phone calls (IN ENGLISH, of course) to various businesses and public institutions to collect information (For example, they could call up the movie theater and ask for show times or call a travel agent and ask for tour information).

That's just an off-the-cuff suggestion, so it may or may not be a valid lesson idea, but my point is that you've got two choices: suck on lemons or make lemonade.

All I'm saying is that you can continue looking for ways to PUNISH these kids, or you can take each new challenge as an opportunity to TEACH them.

Up to you, really....

One thing I'd like to point out to you. You said you "LIKE to name and shame'em". That's a pretty telling comment.

Why do you LIKE to shame these kids? Does it make you feel good? Do you get a sense of power or superiority out of it?

Whatever personal demons you carry around with you, it's not appropriate to get your ego-boosts by belittling children. You may think you've got a "right" to put these kids in their place, but fact is, you don't.

And one last thing I'd like to point out to you. For you, this "teaching thing" may be a temporary gig, but for these kids, it's 12+ years of putting up with random farang b'llsh't. Look at it from their point of view and you may see things differently.

You "like" shaming these kids? Well, good for you big man, but what happens to the next poor slob who gets the kids you've RUINED??

- After putting up with years of abuse from ignorant teacher-wannabes,...

- After getting yelled at and berated and belittled by people who lack the imagination and patience to be called teachers,...

- After being fondled by pedophiles, abused by drunks, ignored and mistreated by incompetents,....

- After being left heart-broken by fly-by-night jerks who stay long enough to get a paycheck or two (and just long enough for their kids to grow attached to them),...

- After being ignored, mishandled, and mis-assessed by people who have NO CLUE how to be teachers,...

You actually think it's the CHILD'S FAULT for being disruptive?

Now before I get flamed by a bunch of idiots, I'd like to point out that OF COURSE I don't include ALL teachers in those remarks I just made. But given the percentages (even if the percentage of "bad" teacher was only 5% or 10%) that pretty much guarantees that many kids will run into a few of these bad apples by the time they graduate.

So what the ###### do you expect from these kids?? Do you expect them to worship your every whim?? Why the ###### should they?? Most of the kids in your class could probably tell horror stories of teachers who left in the middle of the semester, embarassed them in front of their friends, gave them unfair and abritrary grades, etc...

In their eyes you are probably just another ranting lunatic they have to suffer under for another year. So while you think you're "building their characters" by shaming them, they are probably just rolling their eyes at you and enduring. I bet a lot of them are playing the odds and just waiting until you get feed up and quit, because in THEIR experience, that's what farang teachers do.

So good luck find a solution to your "discipline" problem. But my bet is that until you see that the attitude problem is YOUR'S not THEIR'S, you'll be a long way from proper classroom management.

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Pudgi, I think the thread was intended as an idea sharing workshop, not an invitation to slag Harry's ideas...

If there is a good "core" to a class then discipline can almost always be made to crystallize around this core- but there *are* some classes so full of unruly kids that they are practically unteachable.

If you're in a school where kids run to Thai administrators above you whining about you being "strict" every time you give somebody 50 lines, then it's probably best to start looking for another job- unless you like being a "Barney the Dinosaur" type teacher with kids throwing stuff at you.

"Steven"

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Pudgi, I think the thread was intended as an idea sharing workshop, not an invitation to slag Harry's ideas...

If there is a good "core" to a class then discipline can almost always be made to crystallize around this core- but there *are* some classes so full of unruly kids that they are practically unteachable.

If you're in a school where kids run to Thai administrators above you whining about you being "strict" every time you give somebody 50 lines, then it's probably best to start looking for another job- unless you like being a "Barney the Dinosaur" type teacher with kids throwing stuff at you.

"Steven"

A) The idea of using "corporal punishment" as a classroom management tool deserves slagging. It's archaic and barbaric. And if you can't think of a better option, go to amazon.com and buy a few books.

B) As I said in my post, that class full of "unruly" kids is almost certainly a product of a broken educational system. Parents, teachers, and administrators have all FAILED these kids, and that is why you are having such problems with them. So the mishandled punishment of kids by ineffective teachers is just feeding into that broken system.

C) There are better and MORE EFFECTIVE options. Advocates of corporal punishment are unimaginative and ignorant of the long-term damage they do to children. An orderly classroom isn't worth a single ruined child.

D) The very fact that you bring up "writing lines" as a valid disciplinary option indicates that you are woefully misinformed on this topic. Why on Earth would an EDUCATOR use EDUCATION as a PUNISHMENT??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Forcing a kid to write lines may have seemed like a good idea in the 1950's but modern educators know that it is, in fact, a VERY POOR way to discipline children. What the heck are you thinking? On the one hand, you're trying to inspire your kids to write A LOT (creativity and academically) and on the other hand, you're using WRITING as a PUNISHMENT. How counter-productive is that????

E) Simply because a teacher doesn't use corporal punishment doesn't mean they are some namby-pamby bleeding-heart push-over. You know, the world isn't divided into neat little black-and-white categories. So just because something doesn't fit into the "corporal punishment" theory of discipline doesn't necessarily mean that it's in the exact opposite category. There are alternatives to both the "Sister Knuckle-rapper" hardass Catholic nun school of discipline and the Barney the Dinosaur doormat school of "don't hurt der widdle feelings".

I suggest that you head out to the bookstore (online or brick-n-mortar) and find a few books on the topic. There are many alternative methods, so I'm not going to advocate any particular one, since each teacher needs to find their own solutions. But the one thing that all the alternatives have in common is that they take TIME and PATIENCE and CONSISTENCY to be effective. You can't expect wonders to occur overnight, but if you affect a permanent change in attitude, you'll find that sooner or later, your class will affect a change in attitude as well.

The difference is that--unlike "quick fixes" like corporal punishment or "name'n'shame"--the changes in attitude brought about by POSITIVE classroom managment techniques will be permanent, effective, and beneficial (to both you and the kids).

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Here, a quick google brought up this site:

http://www.honorlevel.com/techniques.xml

I scanned through it really quick, but it looks like it's got some good suggestions and tips for improving your classroom management techniques.

One thing, though, if you say, "Oh that'll never work", then OF COURSE, that will never work. 99% of what determines the effectiveness of a particular technique is the teachers BELIEF that it will work. So this kind of classroom management requires a paradigm shift in attitude from YOU before you'll see any progress.

And another thing, if you try it for one day and it doesn't work, that doesn't mean that it was ineffective. Like I said, these types of solutions are LONG-TERM solutions, and therefore they require patience and consistency. Therefore, you need to consistently apply these techniques for several WEEKS before you'll start to see results. But you WILL see results, and those benefits will be more permanent and effective than anything you could hope for with negative discipline.

Just try it out. For example, I really like the one thing they said on the site about not using negative words like "No" or "Don't". Try it out for a few weeks and see what happens. For example, if you have a problem with kids running around in class (or in the halls), instead of yelling "NO RUNNING!", try saying, "Please walk in school" with a tone of voice that suggests you're really ASKING the kid to walk in school. Give that a shot for 2 weeks and report the results.

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- After being left heart-broken by fly-by-night jerks who stay long enough to get a paycheck or two (and just long enough for their kids to grow attached to them),...

Was this written out of guilt after you did a runner from ECC?

God's gift to TEFL again!

Well Pudgimelon may be an anonymous poster on teacher forums but G.C. isn't.

Are you as good as the advice(?) you give to others?

People know the truth Pudgi!

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Hey, Pudge- speaking of negativity, you're pretty strong on that yourself. Don't do this and don't do that- but your posts are pretty short on constructive suggestions and positive feedback. Methinks you're in it just for the opportunity to criticize, and I can't imagine you'd be much different in a classroom.

Different things work for different people and different students. Some of them need the physical component (writing tiring out their hand) to bring the lesson home. Some of them need to burn off excess energy from their youth (running a lap or two's a good one for that- sometimes they enjoy it more than the lesson!). Some of them need to be supervised to do their homework if they simply refuse to do it at home and their parents are too lax. There's no "one-size-fits-all." And some classes (you call them the damaged ones, and they may well be) are simply unteachable in the current system, as I have often explained. Yes, it's the system's fault- but we're a part of that system and anyone (except of course you, Pudge- been taking those abused students away from the families yet?) who tries to buck this system will be crushed or disgorged. Railing against teachers who have to deal with this system for better or for worse seems of little use other than perhaps, autostimulatory for you?

"Steven"

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after reading Pudgimelons reposts to my initial post i have no alternative but to reward him with a star.gif, whilst not total agreeing with all of his points... i do thank him or her for stimulating the debate on this topic...

just one thing pudge. i don't recall mentioning kids in my original post... perhaps you were sub-conciously referencing your own personal psychosis... i have only ever taught classes of thai tourist police & in my opinion they are more ill-disciplined than any group of kids could ever be...

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There are just those days.. that the creative juice don't flow.. and all the good intentions, however well meaning..just don't make it.. and a breeze from the past is smiled upon...the sight of students lined up to receive their daily dose of discipline.

Let's plug in the culture and natural naughtyness / playfulness of some Thai students...50 disruptive kids.. is a challenge enough...

Fold, and try again. :o

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And some classes (you call them the damaged ones, and they may well be) are simply unteachable....

Twenty-five years of teaching tells me that your comment is WRONG. Period. No such thing as an unteachable class- or an unteachable student. :o

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classroom management is a skill that you will pick up. some people seem to do it with ease - most have to acquire this skill through experience, but not me i was a natural.

most teachers i've known have said that it took them 2-3 years to become comfortable with classroom management. i guess that some are just "slow learners."

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And some classes (you call them the damaged ones, and they may well be) are simply unteachable....

Twenty-five years of teaching tells me that your comment is WRONG. Period. No such thing as an unteachable class- or an unteachable student. :o

I could agree with you on this most of the time, Ajarn. But I have "taught" classes here where the worst 5th of an already low-functioning grade level in a Thai public school was dumped into one classroom of 50 kids together.

Did I do my best? Sure. Did they have at least a little bit of fun? Probably. Did they learn at least one word of English over the 10 weeks I taught them one hour a week? Most likely. But in a class like that, there's no hope given the constraints of the system to make them follow anything like the "official" level curriculum- the cards are already stacked by the system against the students AND the teacher. My point was that the unteachability stems from the *system* as well as the students. And, of course, it's relative- if learning 2 or 3 phrases over half a year is teachable, then yes, they were teachable.

"Steven"

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And some classes (you call them the damaged ones, and they may well be) are simply unteachable....

Twenty-five years of teaching tells me that your comment is WRONG. Period. No such thing as an unteachable class- or an unteachable student. :o

I could agree with you on this most of the time, Ajarn. But I have "taught" classes here where the worst 5th of an already low-functioning grade level in a Thai public school was dumped into one classroom of 50 kids together.

Did I do my best? Sure. Did they have at least a little bit of fun? Probably. Did they learn at least one word of English over the 10 weeks I taught them one hour a week? Most likely. But in a class like that, there's no hope given the constraints of the system to make them follow anything like the "official" level curriculum- the cards are already stacked by the system against the students AND the teacher. My point was that the unteachability stems from the *system* as well as the students. And, of course, it's relative- if learning 2 or 3 phrases over half a year is teachable, then yes, they were teachable.

"Steven"

I'm not sure you give students, or yourself, enough credit :D

I've taught large classes

I've taught under oppressive circumstances...

But I've never experienced any situation where I would come away making the same comments as you've made about student's learning. It simply has never been the case, in my experience. But yes, students often have to study under less than optimum conditions, maybe most of the time, in Thailand.

Obviously, I don't know your personal situation, so I can't say what my take would be, or how I would deal with it.

But I clearly hear your frustration and sense of powerlessness with the system, and taking that into a classroom (if you do) would obviously be like a black cloud over one's teaching... Like a self-fullfilling prophecy, if the teacher has a negative attitude, and feels their students aren't learning.....

As I've said many times, being a kid teacher is the toughest teaching job there is, and classroom teachers rarely get even minimal support in most Thai schools, in my experience.

It sounds like you love teaching. But dealing with the Admin bullshit comes with the job, and you have to deal with that, while still doing your job with a smile... If you can't do that, it's time for a change of scenery, if it's me. Life is too short to drive yourself nuts... :D

Please understand that this is not a flame, and neither do I devalue your teaching. I feel I wish I could offer you some better support. My 'bottom line' kind of talking may sound harsh, but I'm truly coming at you with the best intentions... :D

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I don't know if you've ever taught in the public school system here, Ajarn- but the recent system in the greater Bangkok area is to subdivide each year's level into homerooms based on student performance. So there's one class with all the best students at that grade level, and the next class has all the students from just under that first class, and so on- until the last one is full of ALL the worst students of the year. This is done for each grade level in Matthayom. I guess it's kinda like the league system in football- the only way to change classes is to beat the bottom students in the next higher class for the next year.

So in the bottom class you get LITERALLY the dregs of the year. And in the school I'm referring to, most of the student population is kinda working class anyway- performing well in school is not as cool as performing well at football. The worst students simply never go to any classes- of course they get "passed" every year. The ones who DO go already know the game- they don't have to learn to pass. That's what their parents are paying the school for!

So you get a class full of kids who probably dropped out around Prathom 4-5, effectively, in all subjects. They have low motivation, low incentive, and no discipline. They can play games- but I had to spend one half of a period in VERY slow no-English modelling mode demonstrating something like BINGO to them, and most of them *still* didn't seem to get it (compared to P.4 classes I've taught who got it in about 5 minutes!) Since this is the lowest class and there's no awareness of L.D. in Thailand, it's possible that a large number of kids in this class have learning disabilities, dyslexia, and other problems. Certainly a large number of them are very poor and may have aggravated emotional/family related issues. Even the Thai teachers can't do much with them- it's about all anyone can do to get them to show up and sit down, much less focus on an alphabet or words in their OWN or another language. The parents are basically absent- I tried to send a letter to one student's mother, only to learn that they had neither phone access nor street address (the parents were poor fruit vendors who lived on the street).

As I said, the ones who are trying a little bit can have some fun, and I do find the class a bit of a laugh, but are these students in this situation really "teachable?" Considering a grade level curriculum which they are years and years behind due to passing them no matter what? All I can really say is that they probably knew a little bit more when I left than when I came in- but is the time they are forced to sit in that kind of environment really productive for anyone?

"Steven"

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