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Thursday, November 3, 2011

San Rafael: Classroom Management

Throughout the past 6 weeks, I have had the opportunity to observe and teach several different classes and grade levels at San Rafael, and have noticed that classroom management in the Spanish classroom is one aspect of Spanish schools that greatly differs from classroom management in previous classrooms I have observed in the United States. During my first few visits to San Rafael, I noticed that my two cooperating teachers placed less emphasis on classroom management than what I have been exposed to by my cooperating teachers in Boston, which made for a very different learning environment.

One of my cooperating teachers, who I have spent the most time with, teaches the oldest students in the school, equivalent to seniors in high school. Her class is about 18 students who have all chosen to take English instead of French (every student has to choose either English or French). Although the size of her class is ideal for a language class, she still faces issues of classroom management every day with her students. My CT has a hard time getting her students to focus and actually speak English in this class. According to my CT, these students have all been in school together since they were 3 years old, and thus are all good friends. Therefore, trying to keep the students attention during the lesson is a challenge for her, because many times the students have their own side conversations in Spanish, with no regard for what is going on in the class. When this happens, my CT asks the students to continue working and only speak in English, but her requests sometimes go overlooked and the students continue to speak in Spanish.

Additionally, the expectations my CT has for her students are not firmly set which I believe makes classroom management more of a challenge for her. For example, one day the students were to all bring their homework sheets to class to go over with the teacher and then work on in groups, but no one brought their homework to class. When my CT realized that no one brought their materials, she decided to change the lesson completely with no consequences for the students who didn´t bring their work. Clearly agitated, but with no choice, she turned the lesson into conversation groups. I think the lack of clear expectations make it difficult for my CT to keep the students focused and engaged.

After observing this particular class several times, I was able to plan my own lesson and teach the class. Being able to observe what classroom management techniques work for these students and which ones don´t helped me to plan my lesson accordingly.

Seeing how classroom management works at San Rafael has really helped me to observe and put into practice different techniques to best manage a classroom. Although different from the United States, this has been a very valuable experience to see how classroom management affects the students learning environment.


  1. I teach in Parma, Italy and I found my students having a hard time concentrating also. They are so busy throwing their keys around, cutting paper or screaming across the room to their friends that they don't even acknowledge the teacher. My teachers also have a hard time disciplining their students, I feel like they get away with a lot of things also. This makes it very hard for me to teach because I do not tolerate that. I feel like I am teaching them how to be students from the beginning. I agree with you that classroom management affects the student's learning environment.

  2. One of the major classroom management strategies that is so stressed in the US and at BC is encouragement. It is important to constantly give students encouragement in order to motivate them to want to learn more. Even a small "great job" can be helpful for a student to continue trying and working hard. I noticed that my CT in England gives little to know encouragement to his students. He simply tells them if their work is right or wrong. When he has to discipline his students, it seems more harsh than I am used to because the classroom lacks a positive and supportive environment. I agree that students' expectations are not very clear. Students are not given clear, written out instructions as to what they should be working on or what their homework is. It is a very different classroom management style than we are used to in the US.


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