I’ve learned a lot about classroom management while teaching abroad, through observing my CT and second teacher’s’ classroom management skills as well as through practicing different strategies to see what works best for me.
My CT manages her classroom incredibly well, while the second teacher I work with does not. I think a major part of this difference is their relationships with their students. While my CT maintains a mutual level of respect with her students, the second teacher does not respect her students and therefore they do not respect her in return. For example, the second teacher says to me almost every time I visit: “I’m sorry. They are so stupid and so loud.” I have the impression that the students know that she has this view of them, mainly because of the way she treats them. I think the students talk so much because she she yells often and only gives positive praise in order to say that others aren’t as good. Therefore, her negative view of her students impacts all of her interactions with them. Meanwhile, my CT has not said negative things to me about her students and she gives them positive praise when they do well. Furthermore, I cannot recall a time that students have spoken inappropriately out of turn - they almost always raise their hands. She doesn’t have to ask them to maintain this good behavior because I believe she established these standards from the beginning of the year. Therefore, I think classroom management is largely dependent on the standards that the teacher establishes and the norms that characterize everyday classroom interaction.
I have employed strategies that I have observed to work as well as tested other strategies. My CT asks them many questions to keep them engaged, so I did the same. I tried to ask many questions and keep a conversation with the students in the second teacher’s classroom, but it was difficult when she keeps speaking with them on the side - it was quite confusing and loud in her classroom. I would try to gain students’ attention by speaking Italian. I also tried talking really quietly and expressively to gain their attention but that didn’t really work. I also tried standing in silence and waiting, staring them down - that seemed to work sometimes. I don’t know if I found a strategy to quiet students that works all the time, but I’m happy I got to try some new ones. I’m so grateful that I was able to observe these two very different teachers and their teaching strategies, as well as to develop my own.