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10 Methods for Regaining Control in the Classroom


“OK! Time for class!” you yell frantically. It’s week one at your first hagwon job and your mission is simple: keep it together. Yet, the bell has rung and your students do not have their books out, are yelling in Korean, and throwing things across the classroom. It is time for you to regain control of this situation -- but how? 

1. "1, 2, 3, eyes on me”  

This is a chant I remember from my own elementary school days. Practice it with your class beforehand and it will really come in handy. When you say “1, 2, 3, eyes on me” then the class responds “1, 2, 3, eyes on you.” Make sure that the students are actually looking at you when they say it.

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2. Clapping

The noise will override any other conversations that are happening and clapping in unison will make sure everyone in the class is on the same page. Plus, clapping is fun.

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3. Turn off the lights

The kids will instantly freeze and wonder what is going on. In the calm of darkness, firmly explain to them what you would like them to do once you turn the lights back on. Disclaimer: this method is only for the 7+ crowd (you want to surprise the kids, not scare them.)

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4. Silent method

If you yell enough, it will simply become background noise to your kids. Instead, mix it up by standing there and looking at the kids sternly.

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5. Sticker method A

Chances are, you will have one student in your chaotic class that is sitting like an angel. Give this student a sticker, or two stickers, heck, give ‘em three. The other students will be envious and start emulating this good behavior.

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6. Sticker method B

“OK, class! Does everyone want a sticker? Then we must listen. If one person is not listening then nobody gets stickers. If everyone does listen, then everyone will get a sticker.” After this announcement, the class will start policing themselves in no time.

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7. The Persistent Method

Channel your Aunt Edna and nag the children into good behavior. Anytime that a student is talking when you are talking, stop the lesson and say their name. Repeat this nagging until all of the student’s peers are also asking them to be quiet.

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8. Countdown from 10

I don’t fully understand the psychology behind this one, but I do know it is timeless and powerful. It still works on me for Christ's sake. 

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9. Phone a friend

Invite a co-worker into your classroom, preferably a native speaker, to reprimand your misbehaving students on the spot. Even better, have them take the student into the hallway. It will feel gratifying when they apologetically bow to you afterwards.

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10. "I'm sorry teacher”

If a student is being out of line, they probably know it. To make sure you are clear about what does and does not pass in your classroom, request that the offending student apologize. If they do it sarcastically make them do it again, and again, until they get it right.

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11.The board is your friend

Write everyone’s name on the board. If someone gets three strikes (or sad faces, or anything) they are out and will not get a sticker for the day. If that is not working, five strikes and they go to the office. Which leads us to 12..  

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12.Call the offender out on their bluff

If there is one bad egg who will just not listen to you, send him to the office. It will ruin your credibility with your other students if they are allowed to stay, which may create even more problems in the future.

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All kids test their limits in the beginning of the semester. So, be consistent (and kind) and your students will quickly learn what is and isn't ok in your classroom. 

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