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Discipline in the classroom I recognize that disciplining students will be one of the tasks that I will face whether I like it or not. I have gotten a little experience in disciplining students in my native country as a substitute teacher, but I wanted to know what specific discipline problems tefl teachers tended to face and how I can prepare myself in advance. After researching Dave?s ESL café website on discipline problems and solutions, I have found the following to be true: 1) Discipline is necessary to keep students focused on the lesson. 2) Discipline techniques vary according to the age of the students and the behavioral problems needing attention. 3) Discipline can include positive or negative consequences. For young learners, the attention span is probably the biggest behavioral problem. When students get squirrely, it is time to change the class dynamics. One solution that sounded fun and effective was discussed by Eugene Smith in china: Sometimes it's really hard to keep discipline in kid's class. I found a very good solution, which works for me. I teach english in china, so I ask children when they were born and what animal they belong to. Then I say that our class is a wild forest and I am a hunter (I usually keep something looking like a gun in my classroom). So they have to keep quiet and hide from me. If I feel they start getting out of control I get my gun and go hunting. If someone is still talking I shoot. After three times I ask the "dead animal" to go out of the class to "recover" for 3-5 min. But it never happened so far. The noisiest kids managed to get 2 shots at most. They really like it, keep each other's score, and don't let anybody to cheat! This is a fun and interactive way in which the teacher can target the students who are misbehaving, while keeping the punishment reasonable. This is also an example of a negative consequence. Another method of controlling behavior through negative consequences is the many varied theme of putting student names on the board/poster board and deducting points/tallies next to the student?s name who misbehaves. Negative consequences range from time-outs, less class game time, chores, and embarrassing tasks. On the other hand, I also noticed that with younger learners many tefl teachers liked to focus on positive consequences/reinforcements. When students answered a question correctly, spoke English all day, turned in all their homework, etc., they were rewarded with stickers, fake money, points, check marks, prizes, class trips, movie days, etc. Sometimes just getting kindergartners to stand in a line worked too. For teenagers, most of the discipline problems centered around cell phone use, speaking in their native language to one another (usually while the teacher is talking), and lack of participation. For cell phone use, my favorite tefl teacher?s response was to take the phone away from the student if they used it during class but only for five minutes. During these five minutes the teacher would call home to a friend/sibling in their home country and have a conversation that the student would then have to answer questions about afterwards. This teacher?s simple consequence seemed to deter phone use completely in his/her classroom. As for the problem of students using their own native language instead of English to answer, to explain, or to whisper and disrupt the class, many tefl teachers suggested simple encouragement and verbal reminders to speak in English. The teacher can pretend not to hear the student if they try to explain in the native language too. Even if the teacher knows the native language, he/she should never use it in the classroom as it encourages students to explain themselves in their native language whenever they get frustrated with English. For misbehavior that is more disrespectful to the teacher, check mark consequences were suggested again and on-the-spot questioning. One teacher suggested using the universal soccer symbols: yellow card and red card (yellow = warning, red = time-out). For one very severe case, not fully explained, the teacher had the students (and the TA) copy the following: Dear Mother and Father: I was very naughty in class today. I was rude and disobedient. I was loud and disrespectful. I wasted Teacher's time and your money. I am very sorry. Signed:____________________________ PS: Please sign below so I can return this letter to Teacher. Father:____________________________ Mother:____________________ Then he/she had the TA translate it into the students? mother tongue and had the students recopy it and turn it in. The letters acted as a threat that would be sent directly to students? parents if the misbehavior ever occurred again. It never did. Some other solutions to misbehavior also included repeating the rules, creating the rules/consequences together as a class, and quizzing the students on the rules/consequences. In trying to get students to participate more, one tefl teacher distributed a regular deck of cards amongst the students. The goal was to use up all your cards by answering and turning a card in when you answered. More loquacious students spent their cards more quickly, while shy students were left to answer. Another tefl teacher chose speakers by spinning in a chair and blindly picking a student to answer, who then picked the next student to answer. Disciplining adult students is something different once again. Most problems occurred with making sure they used English and not their native language to express themselves and making sure they turned in their homework. The best way to treat adults is not to make them feel like children. Gently remind them to use English or give them a physical object that will remind them to use English. The best idea for getting them to turn homework in for one tefl teacher was to ask them what they thought they could accomplish given their hectic work and family situations. They almost always had the homework done for the next day.