An article by Richard James Rogers (Award-Winning Author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management and The Power of Praise: Empowering Students Through Positive Feedback). This blog post has been beautifully illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati.
Hey there, fellow educators and Instagram enthusiasts! Today, I want to talk about a nifty feature on everyone’s favorite photo-sharing platform: Instagram Threads. We all know that Instagram is great for sharing snapshots of our lives, but did you know it can also be a fantastic tool to support teaching and learning? That’s right! In this blog post, I’ll walk you through some creative ways teachers can leverage Instagram Threads to engage their students and make learning a whole lot more exciting. Let’s dive in.
#1: Creating a Private Classroom Community
Imagine having a space where you can interact with your students outside the traditional classroom setting. Instagram Threads provides just that! You can create a private group solely for your class, allowing for open discussions, sharing resources, and fostering a sense of community. It’s an excellent platform to keep the conversation going beyond the classroom walls and make learning a collaborative experience.
#2: Sharing Timely Updates and Reminders
Remember those times when you had to make last-minute announcements or reminders, and you wished your students could see them instantly? With Instagram Threads, you can quickly post updates, reminders, or even schedule them in advance. It ensures that important information reaches your students promptly, and you can bid farewell to those “I didn’t know about it!” excuses.
#3: Encouraging Visual Storytelling
Instagram is all about visual content, and Threads takes it up a notch! As a teacher, you can leverage this feature to encourage your students’ creativity through visual storytelling. Assign projects where students can capture and share images or short videos related to the topics they’re studying. It adds an exciting dimension to learning and allows students to express themselves in unique ways.
#4: Instigating Dialogue and Debates
Discussion is an integral part of education, and Threads provides an ideal platform for fostering meaningful conversations. Teachers can initiate discussions by posting thought-provoking questions or prompts related to the lesson material. Students can then respond, share their perspectives, and engage in healthy debates. This helps develop critical thinking skills and encourages active participation.
#5: Showcasing Student Work
Who doesn’t love recognition and appreciation for their hard work? Instagram Threads can be an excellent avenue for showcasing student achievements. Create a designated space to highlight exceptional projects, artwork, or any other outstanding work by your students. Not only does this motivate them, but it also inspires others and creates a positive classroom culture.
#6: Conducting Virtual Q&A Sessions
Want to provide additional support or address student queries outside regular class hours? Instagram Threads offers a seamless way to organize virtual Q&A sessions. Dedicate specific time slots where students can post their questions, and you can respond with detailed explanations or clarifications. It promotes active learning and demonstrates your commitment to student success.
Remember, while Instagram Threads can be an incredibly useful tool, it’s crucial to prioritize privacy and ensure all interactions are conducted in a safe and secure manner. Always adhere to your school’s guidelines and obtain necessary permissions from parents or guardians.
So, there you have it! Instagram Threads can be a game-changer when it comes to supporting teaching and learning. By tapping into its features, teachers can create engaging, interactive, and visually appealing learning experiences for their students. So why not give it a try? Your classroom is just a click away from a vibrant online community.
Stay connected, stay inspired, and let’s explore the incredible possibilities that Instagram Threads brings to our educational journey. Happy teaching, everyone!
Illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati.
Firstly, I’ll begin with a big hello and a salute to every teacher reading this right now. Many of us taught through the grueling COVID years and made it (unscathed, albeit exhausted) to the other side.
That is an achievement in and of itself.
Those of us who stayed in teaching have shown tremendous resilience. COVID destabilized so many schools and demoralized so many teachers – so much so, that more teachers are leaving the profession than those that are applying for open vacancies.
For those of us who did decide to stick to our guns, post-pandemic teaching has brought with it some new challenges that were somewhat unexpected:
- Children are fed up of doing online tasks, and now expect more human-interactivity in lessons. Teachers need to be more active within their lessons than ever before – we simply cannot get way with setting our kids some work to do whilst we check e-mails and do admin. This kind of dovetailing simply cannot happen anymore.
- AI has been thrust upon us – possibly the biggest challenge to education since COVID
- Many of our students are way behind, since they picked up misconceptions and did not learn deeply enough during the COVID years. Many of us are now trying to teach advanced concepts to children who have little foundational knowledge.
- The ways in which we taught students before COVID are not necessarily the ways we should teach students in the post-COVID years
As a result of these challenges, we need to be more organized than ever before if we are to stay in the game. So, are you ready to level up and become even more efficient? Well, you’re in luck! In this blog post, we’re going to explore five practical ways you can boost your efficiency in 2023 and beyond. Get ready to embrace new strategies, tools, and ideas that will make your teaching journey a breeze. So, let’s dive right in!
#1: Embrace the power of technology (but don’t let it take over)
In this digital age, technology is your trusty sidekick. From interactive whiteboards to educational apps, find tech tools that align with your teaching style and make your life easier. Harness the power of online platforms for grading, communication, and lesson planning. Let technology be your secret weapon in conquering classroom chaos!
- Utilise live quiz apps like Blooket, Quizlet Live, Quizziz, Kahoot! and iSpring Quizmaker to get your students interacting with lesson content. It’s important that the teacher is active during these tasks too – comment on scores along the way, use humor and walk around the classroom to help students.
- Use G Suite tools to aid with collaborative project work. Google Sheets, Docs, Sites and Slides all allow students to create high-quality outputs in real-time, in groups. Think of ways to utilize these tools to your advantage. Some ideas are given here.
- Utilise Virtual Learning Environments to share resources and communicate with your students. Google Classroom, Firefly, Moodle and Class Dojo are all great platforms that I highly recommend. Share slides and summaries ahead of time if you can – this will allow your students the opportunity to read ahead.
Technology warning – do not replace human teaching with technology-driven teaching. Whilst there’s so much great software out there that will literally teach children all they need to know about a subject or topic, the children attending school today do not want this. They’ve had enough of educational software as they were heavily exposed to it during the COVID years when they were learning remotely. It’s back to basics, I’m afraid – paper-based tasks, spatial learning and active engagement are in-vogue and will be for some time to come.
#2: Streamline Lesson Planning
Create a system that saves time and energy during lesson planning. Organize resources, templates, and activities in a central location for easy access. Collaborate with fellow teachers and share ideas to lighten the load. Remember, a well-planned lesson is a successful lesson! Read my top 7 strategies for efficient lesson planning here. Here’s a quick summary:
- Plan in a way that works for you personally: The methods of lesson planning that I use personally have changed and evolved over the course of my career, just as I have changed and evolved too. The methods I use work for me, and that allows me to express myself in the best and most natural way possible.
- Always get a quick starter activity ready: You’ll often find that there are many great workbooks full of activities and worksheets published and ready for you to use. A small investment of money in resources like this can save you loads of time that you may have spent making resources from scratch.
- Always include a quick plenary: This can be as simple as getting the students to stand at the front of the class and do some quick-fire questioning, playing a learning game or even getting groups of students to verbalize their own summary.
- Keep your plans and reuse them year after year: There’s no point in reinventing the wheel. Keep your planners safe and organised and use them again and again when you teach the same or similar content. Modify as you go along.
- Look online for Schemes of Work, Programmes of Study and lesson plans that other people have created: You’ll be surprised at the wealth of information available. I’ve personally done this many times in the past. A quick search on a search engine can pull up many documents that you can use, modify and change to suit your own lesson planning.
- Use published Schemes of Work to assist you: All examination boards produce Course Guides or syllabuses, and some will even provide Schemes of Work. Use the content from these to inform your lesson planning, particularly if you’re filling in an ‘Objectives’ or ‘Learning Outcomes’ section.
- Take a long-term view: If you teach students who will take exams in May, for example, then you should know which exact topics you’ll need to cover each month in order to give you enough time to do revision and get the students ready for their exams on time.
#3: Automate Routine Tasks
Don’t let paperwork and administrative tasks steal your precious time. Seek out apps and software that automate grading, attendance, and reporting. Free yourself from the never-ending stack of papers and focus on what you do best—teaching!
Check out these blog posts and sites for some great ideas on how to automate some of your routine work:
- Automated schools: 7 school processes you can automate [Jotform, January 2023]
- 6 Ways to Use ChatGPT to Save Time [Edutopia, March 2023]
- EdTech Evolution: Automating Administrative Tasks and Processes Using AI [Educating Adjuncts]
#4: Prioritize Self-Care
I’ve mentioned this point many times before in blog posts and podcast episodes, but I really must emphasize again that we must PRIORITIZE self-care.
When we look after ourselves, we are better able to teach. It’s that simple.
Burnt out, stressed teachers occupy too many classrooms (often through no fault of their own). We must do what we can to counteract the stressors that affect us.
Being an efficient teacher starts with taking care of yourself. Remember to recharge your batteries, both mentally and physically. Get enough sleep, exercise, and enjoy hobbies outside of the classroom. A happy teacher is a highly efficient teacher!
Read more tips on how to be a happy teacher in this great blog post by Jessica Robinson.
#5: Embrace Flexibility
The ability to adapt and be flexible is a superpower in the ever-changing world of education. Embrace innovative teaching techniques, experiment with new approaches, and adjust your lesson plans to meet your students’ evolving needs. Stay open-minded, and your efficiency will skyrocket!
Read this great blog post by Gill Murray (Founder of Alba English Class Online and Homestay) on the topic of being a flexible and adaptable teacher for some great tips you just can’t miss!
We stayed in the profession despite the massive challenges we faced during COVID, yet new challenges have presented themselves since schools reopened. Being a teacher in the post-COVID years is, and is going to be, more challenging than it has ever been before. For those of us who are tired and fed up, we MUST find ways to raise our energy levels so that we can engage our students. Our paperwork, once a task we could partly do within lessons, must be completed in our free periods and our free time – and that requires good organizational systems to be in-place.
On top of all of these new challenges we face professionally, we also find ourselves on a common personal battlefield – that of our wellbeing. Here’s a big newsflash just in case you missed the memo – your school, your district and your government are NOT responsible for your personal mental and physical health and will probably do little to help you anyway. We must prioritize our own happiness and wellbeing. For some of us (me included), this means that everything must change – from how we wake up in the morning, to how we embrace fitness opportunities and get deep, restful sleep.
Recommended further reading
- Barnum, M. (2023) “The teaching profession faces big post-pandemic challenges – Chalkbeat,” Chalkbeat [Preprint]. Available at: https://www.chalkbeat.org/2023/6/27/23774375/teachers-turnover-attrition-quitting-morale-burnout-pandemic-crisis-covid
This blog post has been beautifully illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati.
Accompanying podcast episode:
Private tutoring is on the rise globally, with a particular surge in Hong Kong. According to a report by Statista, the private tutoring market in Hong Kong was estimated to be worth HK$ 25 billion (US$ 3.2 billion) in 2021. The International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum is particularly popular in Hong Kong, and many teachers are switching to private tutoring. In this article, we will explore why IB teachers in Hong Kong are making the switch and the impact of this trend.
The Attraction of Private Tutoring for IB Teachers in Hong Kong
One of the main reasons why IB teachers in Hong Kong are making the switch to private tutoring is the opportunity to earn higher salaries. Private tutors in Hong Kong can charge high hourly rates, particularly for IB subjects. According to a survey conducted by Easy Sevens Education, the average hourly rate for an IB tutor in Hong Kong is HK$ 1,000 (US$ 127). This is significantly higher than the average monthly salary for an IB teacher in Hong Kong, which is around HK$ 50,000 (US$ 6,370).
Private tutoring also offers IB teachers in Hong Kong more flexibility in their schedules. Many private tutors can choose their own hours and locations, allowing them to fit tutoring around their other commitments. This is particularly attractive to IB teachers, who often have to work long hours and attend extra-curricular activities.
Private tutoring can be more fulfilling than teaching in a classroom setting, as tutors have the opportunity to work with students one-on-one and see the progress they make. This is particularly true for IB teachers, who are passionate about their subjects and enjoy helping students achieve their academic goals.
The Impact of the Rise of Private Tutoring on IB Education in Hong Kong
The rise of private tutoring in Hong Kong has led to increased competition for IB teachers, as many are now leaving the classroom to become private tutors. This has created a shortage of IB teachers in some schools, leading to larger class sizes and increased pressure on the remaining teachers.
Pressure on students
The high cost of private tutoring has put pressure on students to perform well academically, leading to stress and anxiety. Some students may feel that they need to take private tutoring to keep up with their peers, even if they cannot afford it.
The rise of private tutoring has also highlighted issues of inequality in Hong Kong’s education system. Students from wealthy families have more access to private tutoring, giving them an advantage over students from less privileged backgrounds. This has led to calls for greater government intervention to ensure that all students have access to high-quality education.
The rise of private tutoring in Hong Kong has had a significant impact on IB education in the region. IB teachers are attracted to private tutoring due to higher earnings, flexibility, and fulfilling work. However, this trend has also created issues such as increased competition, pressure on students, and inequality. It is important for the Hong Kong government and educational institutions to address these issues to ensure that all students have access to high-quality education.
Q1. Why is private tutoring popular in Hong Kong?
Private tutoring is popular in Hong Kong due to the high pressure on students to perform well academically, as well as the desire for more personalized learning.
Q2. What is the average hourly rate for an IB tutor in Hong Kong?
The average hourly rate for an IB tutor in Hong Kong is around HK$ 1000 (US$ 127).
Q3. Why are IB teachers in Hong Kong switching to private tutoring?
IB teachers in Hong Kong are switching to private tutoring due to higher earnings, flexibility in their schedules, and the opportunity to work more closely with students one-on-one.
Q4. What are the negative impacts of the rise of private tutoring in Hong Kong?
The rise of private tutoring in Hong Kong has led to increased competition for IB teachers, pressure on students to perform well academically, and issues of inequality in the education system.
Q5. What can be done to address the negative impacts of private tutoring in Hong Kong?
The Hong Kong government and educational institutions can address the negative impacts of private tutoring by providing greater access to high-quality education for all students, reducing pressure on students to perform well academically, and ensuring a sufficient supply of qualified IB teachers in the classroom.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘diversity’?
Most people will come up with a variety of answers, which may include race, gender, economic background or even neurodiversity. As educators, we must first be able to recognize diversity when we see it (which isn’t always obvious), and then work to both embrace it and manage the challenges posed by it. Classrooms are becoming more and more diverse as international travel and the ability to work overseas become easier, migration increases, and neurodiversity becomes easier to diagnose. The cost of living crisis has also hit schools hard, and we are seeing more children coming to class without the tech tools that some of their more affluent peers may have, or even basic essentials such as stationary.
Today, I’ve invited Kiara Miller from The Speakingnerd to share her ideas on how teachers can respond to the unique challanges present within diverse classrooms.
This blog post has been beautifully illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati
Accompanying podcast episode:
Diversity is a growing reality of the modern world. Whether it’s in the education sector, communities, the workplace, or political realm, the age of diversity is here to stay. Diversity generally refers to the state of varying dimensions.
Diversity commonly captures the differences among people (i.e. culturally, politically, socially, and religion-wise among other aspects). Diversity also takes into consideration age, social background, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, race, and belief differences among people. Like in any other area of life, diversity in education presents administrators with both opportunities and challenges.
Diversity in the classroom is an excellent avenue for teaching the immensity of the world we live in. When students are introduced to the vastness of the world we live in, they learn to embrace differences at the personal, regional, national, and global levels. They also attain better insights and skills.
Diversity in the classroom can exist due to varying intellectual abilities or learning disabilities, interpersonal or social skills, beliefs, and language differences. Diversity in educational institutions, including universities, isn’t a myth due to a range of factors like globalization, technological advancements, and scalability goals.
However, despite the fact that the world is now a global village, diversity presents a range of issues. Within classrooms, diversity cultivates several challenges for teachers, and these include the following:
#1: Complex disciplinary issues
Diversity in the classroom can cultivate a new set of disciplinary issues. Their complexity can also exacerbate due to equality and inclusion problems in the educational institution, or even the fixed-mindset nature of school leadership. Some teachers may find it difficult to manage learners of diverse backgrounds, gender, religion, and different languages.
It can significantly worsen behavioral issues and also lead to teacher burnout. In situations like this, teachers who lack emotional intelligence and professional agility may find it hard to prevent and control disciplinary issues.
Leaders, on the other hand, must check their leadership styles in order to exercise authority as per the extent of diversity. There are different leadership theories and understanding plus assessing their efficacy can help teachers manage diversity effectively. The most common disciplinary issues in a diverse classroom may be aggression, bullying, disrespect, and defiance.
In these situations, teachers need to exercise excellent overall behaviour management skills and communicate regularly with heads of phase, line managers, senior leadership, school counsellors and even parents to gather information and respond appropriately to what may turn out to be a range of evolving scenarios.
#2: Communication and language issues
With the fact that students may come from different backgrounds and nationalities, there may be a language barrier. It may be difficult for teachers to communicate with students from other regions or nations. With such communication inefficiencies, it becomes difficult for students to understand the concepts in the classroom.
It will also require a teacher to leverage creative teaching strategies that can help learners comprehend material better. On the other hand, foreign students may find it hard to communicate their needs or attain the help they need. This can trigger feelings of loneliness and depression in students.
#3: Observance of holidays
Diversity in a classroom requires a proper approach to inclusion. Failure can trigger feelings of injustice and poor conduct among students. This means that the institution must ensure they celebrate cultural and belief differences. For example, it must recognize official public holidays like Christmas, Independence Day and others. This helps to prevent student outrage.
#4: Teamwork and collaboration difficulties
Diversity in the classroom also impacts teamwork and collaboration. Differences among students can either help them learn how to collaborate or they can prevent them from working together. This can present complications in teaching such students as they may not be willing to interact with others in order to attain new insights. In this case, students become highly teacher dependent. In the long run, it increases pressure on the teacher’s side.
#5: Individual differences
Diversity in the classroom can increase the likelihood of individual differences. Students may fail to recognize and respect each other due to their race, culture, or ethnic orientation. Such differences can affect communication and collaboration in a classroom. It may also prevent students from conducting group assignments or collaborating during extra co-curricular activities. This can hinder progress and academic achievement.
Managing Diversity in the Classroom
Diverse classrooms require a unique art of classroom management whether at K-12, college, or vocational level. Diversity challenges are surely predicted to increase and their management may prove difficult in case educators aren’t professionally trained in this area. A lack of professional experience in managing diverse classroom environments can increase behavioral issues and also affect students’ academic performance.
Diversity management in classrooms requires a range of guidelines to be set and followed. First and foremost, the educational institution must be open to equality and inclusion. Equality and inclusion in educational institutes are fundamental for creating a positive learning environment.
Generally, an environment that can help students learn, share ideas, collaborate and cultivate quality networks is the goal. Additionally, there should be programs to help students learn the common language to improve communication. That should be emphasized before joining an educational institution or within the first few months of commencement.
Besides that, there should be no partiality or favoritism. School rules and policies must apply to all students to ensure respect for all cultures and individuals. With this, chances of disciplinary issues will be reduced and teachers will be able to manage classrooms better.
Good teaching is built upon the foundations of effective classroom management. Most teachers recognise this, and I believe that’s why my 2015 book, The Quick Guide to Classroom Management, became an award-winning bestseller within a very short timeframe. We know that order must be maintained in the classroom for deep learning to take place, but how do we maintain that order in a way that is not confrontational, or stifling, for our students?
Thankfully, we have the wise words and fresh perspective of a great expert to guide us today. I’ve invited Mitch Metzger from Destination TEFL, Bangkok, to share his top tips for using proactive and reactive classroom management strategies with our students.
This blog post has been beautifully illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati
Let’s face it, classroom management is the hardest part about teaching abroad.
Managing a classroom in ANY country is an immense challenge. It requires emotional intelligence and a deep understanding of human behavior. It involves aspects of psychology, educational pedagogy, and even philosophy.
Managing a classroom abroad means doing all of this on TOP of the fact that your students don’t speak your language!
But there are simple mindset and habit changes you can make that will immediately improve your ability to manage a classroom abroad. Mastery may take years, but applying what you learn in this post can have you managing like a pro in a matter of weeks.
ESL classroom management is a challenge, but it’s also an incredible opportunity. An opportunity to improve your EQ. An opportunity to become an expert at body language and non-verbal communication. An opportunity to learn transferable professional, personal, and leadership skills that will change your life even once you move on from the classroom.
Studies have also shown that these skills in teachers have a direct and significant impact on student achievement. At the end of the day, it’s all about our students.
Working to change their lives is what truly changes our lives.
So grab a notepad and pen (or, let’s be real, your phone), and let’s dive into some strategies that will put you on the path to classroom management mastery!
What is Classroom Management, actually?
Before we get into the secret sauce, it’s essential to first understand what we’re actually talking about when we say “classroom management”.
Because it’s not what most people think it is.
For many people, those words elicit memories of teachers yelling, sending kids out of the room, and otherwise strictly enforcing a set of rules “because I said so”.
Think about it, how did most of your teachers enforce classroom rules when you were growing up? Yeah, ours too…
Unfortunately, monkey see monkey do and we’re just really smart monkeys. Many of us, myself included early on in my career, fall back on the same disciplinary tactics of our teachers.
But that’s not what classroom management is supposed to be. At least, not great classroom management!
Great classroom management is about getting the most out of your students. Creating a safe space where they can make mistakes and try again. Developing deep bonds and trust with your students. Helping them to create a better vision for their own futures.
Most of all, it means being a true role model. We can’t expect students to do as we say and not as we do. After all, did we when we were young?
So how can we change the paradigm of classroom management? Good question, probably a bit too big to be solved in a single blog post (I smell a series). However, there is one simple shift that can make an immense difference.
Simple, but not necessarily easy.
Proactive vs. Reactive Classroom Management
Understanding (and actually creating habits around) proactive versus reactive classroom management strategies seems like a small change. However, it will forever change the way you manage your classroom, especially while teaching English abroad.
The difference is in the fundamental approach you take to potential issues in your classroom.
Reactive strategies involve solving problems that have already occurred. Disciplining “bad” behavior, what most people think of when they hear classroom management, falls into this category.
Proactive strategies are about anticipating potential problems and putting systems in place to prevent them from happening in the first place.
I like to say reactive strategies are putting out the fire. Proactive strategies are not putting a candle near the drapes.
After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
This is all nice in theory, but what do these different approaches look like in practice? What are some concrete strategies you can actually use in the classroom?
Reactive Classroom Management
Let’s start with reactive management behaviors. Now this isn’t necessarily “what not to do” (though some of these definitely fall into this category). Problems will inevitably arise in the classroom, and sometimes you’ll need to ‘react’.
However, these should be more of a last resort. Only leaning on these strategies, or using the wrong reactive strategies, is where problems can arise.
So, let’s look at various reactive strategies and see which might be effective and which should be left behind.
Reactive strategies to avoid
Some habits you’ll want to be careful to NOT get into include:
- Yelling at students
- Using shame as a discipline strategy (easier to fall into than it sounds)
- Removing students from the classroom
- Getting emotional or visibly frustrated
- Not checking your biases
One thing we always train our teachers to take special note of is this: You can’t expect immediate compliance.
The truth is, respect and trust have to be earned. It doesn’t matter if the people you’re leading are 50 years old or five, you have to do the work to earn their buy-in.
Too many teachers expect their students to immediately listen to everything they say and get distraught or upset when that doesn’t happen.
But students are people too, and we don’t particularly like taking orders from people we barely know and trust. Right?
Effective reactive strategies
Like we said, problems in the classroom are inevitable. Occasionally you’re going to have to put out some fires (hopefully not literally), so it helps to have a good extinguisher.
Some effective strategies include:
- Practicing patience and empathy, even in stressful situations
- Having a word or action that refocuses attention on you (e.g., clapping patterns, short phrases, etc.)
- Keeping other students busy with a task while addressing issues
- Having a calming space in the classroom students can go to when feeling overwhelmed.
- This is NOT a timeout. It should be a comfortable space (seating, plants, maybe even a little fountain) students want to go to, you just have to train them on when they can be there.
- Listening to both sides of every story
- Explaining why rules are being enforced
- Teaching calming breathing techniques
Adding these strategies to your teacher tool belt will help you solve problems whenever they occur.
Proactive Classroom Management
Now time for the real secret sauce! Proactive classroom management strategies will completely change your classroom when done right.
So let’s learn how to do them right!
Here are 3 simple strategies to prevent problems from arising in the first place.
#1 – Be completely prepared for EVERY class
Let’s be real, it can be tough to prepare 20+ engaging classes per week. As a teacher, it’s easy to slide into a bad habit of not fully preparing for every class.
Whether this is just teaching straight out of the book, or over-relying on worksheets from the internet, underprepared classes are the top culprit for why students misbehave in the first place. We know that young learners (and hell, even people our age) have short attention spans. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that if students aren’t engaged consistently throughout the lesson they’ll lose focus, and this inevitably leads to classroom behavior issues.
So put in the groundwork and prep your lessons.
Work to make them physically and intellectually engaging. Challenge your students. Find ways to make the material relevant to their lives. And most importantly, have all of your lessons fully resourced and ready to go.
Another pro tip here is to work on your transitions. Any ‘gap’ in the lesson is an opportunity for students to potentially misbehave, so filling those gaps ensures students don’t veer off track.
This tip isn’t really fun, because it requires a bit more work on your part. But a bit more work in the preparation will pay off immensely in the form of better lessons, stronger relationships with your students, and better mental health. After all, nothing is more taxing than an ‘out of control’ classroom.
#2 – Get to know your students
This seems like a given, but you’d be shocked (and appalled) at the number of ESL teachers who don’t even bother to learn all of their students’ names.
In their defense (kind of), I’ve had jobs where I have taught hundreds of students. It can be tough to learn that many names, let alone get to know them all.
Yet too many teachers lean on that excuse as a reason not to really get to know their students at all. They spend all of their time in the ‘teachers’ lounge’, or only interact with their students for the 55 minutes of English class each day.
The truth is, though, there is NO better classroom management strategy than strong bonds with your students. If they trust you, if they respect you, if they like you, they will listen to you.
So what can you actually do to bond with your students?
- Get a class roster, make name cards, or employ other strategies to learn their names
- ASK them about their interests, and talk about yours
- Eat lunch with them or play with them at recess from time to time
- Come to school a bit early, or do your grading at school and leave a bit late
- This doesn’t have to be too much, maybe 15 minutes. But you can get a lot of informal facetime with your students in those quiet little moments before or after school.
- Learn a bit of their language (and practice where they can see you!)
If you follow these simple tips you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can get to know your students!
#3 – Let the students make the rules
I know, it sounds crazy. But hear us out…
Letting your students make the rules can be a powerful technique when it comes to actually enforcing the rules. Think about it: aren’t you more likely to follow rules you come up with yourself?
People naturally don’t like being told what to do, so if you give the students the power to decide what rules are fair then they’re much more likely to follow through.
It also makes it way easier for you to enforce the rules. Instead of saying “do this because I said so” you get to fall back on “Hey, these aren’t even my rules. YOU came up with these!”. Trust me, the latter is far superior.
Now, you’ll have to steer the conversation a bit to make sure some essential rules are hit. But this can be as easy as one or two leading questions. “Is it a good idea to talk if the teacher is talking?”
In the ESL classroom, you may also need the help of a co-teacher that speaks the students’ native language. It doesn’t take a really high level of English to make some of these rules, but if your students are at a lower level it’ll be good to have someone there to help formulate their thoughts if they don’t have the vocab for it.
The final proactive management tip
To wrap things up, I want to leave you with one more proactive tip.
Take care of YOURSELF!
Yes, proper self-care and work life balance is absolutely essential for classroom management. If you’re overwhelmed or burnt out, it will inevitably impact your students. Energy is contagious, and as the leader you are the conduit for the classes’ energy. This makes it important to learn to control your own energy.
So meditate, journal, go for walks, do yoga, eat healthy, travel on the weekends, pursue hobbies that interest you. Set up good, sustainable systems for work life balance. Grow in areas you feel are important for your life. The best teachers by FAR are happy teachers (not an opinion, studies show this to be true), so be sure to do things that make you happy.
If you do that, then teaching itself will become one of those things!
An article by Richard James Rogers, award-winning author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management: 45 Secrets That All High School Teachers Need to Know and The Power of Praise: Empowering Students Through Positive Feedback
This blog post has been beautifully illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati
Updated: 7th February 2023 – As this is an evolving topic, this blog post shall be updated regularly in order to make the content relevant for teachers and schools.
Accompanying podcast episode:
You’ve probably already been swept up by the huge (and sudden) tidal wave of hysteria that has been generated by OpenAI’s latest product: ChatGPT.
From writing computer programs to producing beautifully formatted English and SAT essays, to answering Mathematics IGCSE examination questions – ChatGPT seems to be the digital guru we’ve all been waiting for, and big tech companies have been attempting to create, for decades.
You could almost say “Chat’s one small step for RAM, one giant leap for mankind!”
Whilst a witty pun like this is enough to break the ice and get a few giggles at your next Teach Meet (perhaps), it won’t be enough to calm the nerves of many who have suddenly realised that we have a major problem on our hands.
ChatGPT has hit educators globally with thunderclap surprise and is causing a lot of panic – and for good reason. In terms of updating Academic Integrity policies, schools will now have to go right back to the drawing board and devise intelligent solutions to a wide array of complex challenges that ChatGPT will pose. Another key consideration for all educational institutions will be how to figure out their position on AI, and which teaching practices to use, as these systems and tools evolve.
So, if you’re one of the many educators out there who is considering how ChatGPT will affect your teaching, then here are some interesting thoughts and resources:
#1: Maths teachers
Mathematics teachers – you think this will not affect you? Well think again – ChatGPT can achieve a Level 5 in a Mathematics IB Diploma SL AA examination. Check out the link and see the attachment!
#2: Cognitive offloading
The first rule with any new technology is to educate students regarding its use and to reveal what is ethically and academically acceptable (as they say the genie cannot be put back in the bottle so banning does not work). Is ChatGPT just another ‘cognitive offloading’ tool like spellcheck, Grammarly, or Amazon Polly, or is it much more than that? Read this good overview piece by Larry Ferlazzo at EdWeek to find out more.
#3: Plagiarism software cannot detect it quite yet
However, Turnitin is developing a tool and there is a beta version out there – so maybe try using this tool to comb through your latest essays from students if they have been typed: you may be surprised with what you find out!
OpenAI have just recently created a kind of ChatGPT detector – to check if an assignment has been artificially generated – but even they themselves say that it’s nowhere near perfect: only 26% accurate! OpenAI recommend using their plagiarism detector, along with other software (like the tool from TurnItIn) to get a good, overall picture of just how much bot-generated text is present within a piece of work.
What if it catches a student who has used ChatGPT partially? Is this acceptable?
#4: Have a go yourself.
A colleague of mine used it in class with students on an IB Digital Society essay and he reported that it was interesting to examine and use the results. It writes pretty good TOK (Theory of Knowledge) essays based on last year’s prompts, for instance. However, it does have many limitations and I believe it’s important to discuss these with students. I do think the TOK assessment, and other essay-based coursework, will have to radically change over the next few years. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see a shift in schools towards more internal assessment methods like group/individual presentations and practical work.
#5: Should we be concerned about students using it?
Well, some universities are already changing their assessments. Will big exam boards like Pearson, the International Baccalaureate, AQA and others be as quick to follow?
#6: ChatGPT is just the beginning
As schools continue to set essay assignments (as per current requirements) I recommend using a new tool called Elicit which can help students with searching and ranking sources alongside improving the quality of their research questions. This is a great introduction to the Extended Essay for IB, for example. A list of the many other tools out there can be found at this link – Future Tools – Find The Exact AI Tool For Your Needs.
In addition to the current disruption already caused by ChatGPT, Google (of course) are planning to stamp their feet and make their mark very soon. The AI arms’ race is on, and Google’s offering is a system called Bard – so advanced that its predecessor, LaMBDA, was controversially described as being “sentient” by its developer.
Will we see the day when self-aware AI systems are given the same rights and responsibilities as people? In LaMBDA’s case, the system described feeling “happy or sad at times” and reported having a deep fear of being switched off – a fate comparable to being killed, in its ‘opinion’.
#7: Chat Prompts
Would you like some nifty chat prompts to play with? See the pdf attachment below – note Nick Cave has been getting very annoyed at all the songs written in his voice! It can also write a decent lesson plan for you if you so wish.
#8: Extra resources
Finally, a great overview here, and attachments below.
Special thanks to Jeremie Tisseau, CEO of Morphosis Holdings Co. Ltd., for acting as my ‘go-to consultant’ and for sharing his expertise on all things ChatGPT and AI with me. Your input has allowed this blog post to remain relevant, useful, topical and accurate.
Useful PDF Resources
See below. Just click on the ‘download’ buttons to save these pdfs.
Teenagers and young people really can be the agents of change the world needs when it comes to sustainability. Fortune Magazine, for example, recently told the story of how global giant UPS was started by two teenagers and a bike back in 1907, and how the company went back to being eco-friendly with its e-bike delivery service in Hamburg back in 2012 (a service which has now expanded to many more cities). Today, I’ve invited Claire Maguire from online student magazine, The Day, to describe some great ways in which teachers can teach sustainability to their students.
Accompanying podcast episode:
How do we teach sustainability to school students?
World news is dominated by reports of extreme flooding, droughts, forest fires and severe storms. It can seem overwhelming for young people; the generation who will increasingly shoulder responsibility for tackling climate change.
What can educators do to empower young people to take positive action?
With more global sustainability events happening around the world every day, it’s the perfect time to bring students into the conversation.
Whether it’s discussing world events such as COP27 or confidently tackling conversations around climate disasters such as floods and fires, there’s no rulebook on how to teach sustainability to school students. But there are a number of approaches that can be effective to really engage young people to take positive action.
The complexities and political implications of sustainability can make it a challenging topic to teach. By following this guide, we hope sustainability can be accessible for your classroom, and you can confidently learn how to teach sustainability to school students in a way that inspires and empowers your class to really engage with these critical issues.
Fortunately, there are so many resources out there to help you tackle these topics.
Online newspaper for schools, The Day, has a team of journalists covering the big issues behind the headlines in climate change in a child-friendly way that aids healthy debate and discussion in the classroom. For example, The Day’s free Build the Change resource, developed in collaboration with the LEGO Group, focuses on a sustainability news topic every week and challenges pupils to come up with creative solutions to environmental issues.
Keep it relevant
Students are much more likely to pay attention if something affects them directly, or it’s something they’ve heard about already. By using the news as a guide, it can transform conversations that might take place at the dinner table or on the bus into a learning experience. From discussions about veganism to debates on electric cars, by honing in on current issues, students are more likely to engage with topics that affect their everyday lives. As sustainability is so broad and intricate, by focusing on specific issues, it can be easier to teach and to digest as a student.
By using the news as a starting point, real-world events become an opportunity for learning. It might be learning that the eighth billionth person will be born and thinking about if the world can cope with the volume of people that really gets your class thinking. Or it might be discovering Sir David Attenborough receiving a knighthood for his sustainability efforts that engages a child who is particularly fond of the English broadcaster and biologist.
Let them have an opinion
Young people are going to be the most affected by the impact of sustainability issues. Encouraging them to form their own point of view on different issues is the best way to really ignite a passion for sustainability.
With the “you decide” feature of the Build the Change resources, students are posed with a thought-provoking question and an option to agree or disagree with the statement.
As sustainability issues are highly debated anyway, it offers the chance for students to work out where they stand on key issues affecting our planet.
Is climate change history repeating itself? Can children save the world? Can the planet cope with 8 billion people? Presenting students with questions like these is a great way to teach sustainability to school students as it allows them to think beyond the news and really analyse the facts, evidence and information in front of them.
You can set up a whole class debate or put students into groups to challenge each other’s way of thinking, and see if they can form a judgement on the topic.
Slot sustainability into the school day
83.1% of educators wish sustainability issues were more broadly implemented across the curriculum*. Time is a luxury most teachers don’t have, and with a jam-packed curriculum having to take priority, sustainability education tends to have to take a backseat.
Yet 45.4% of educators believe sustainability education is very important, and if we want to help students become agents of change, we need to give them the tools to make a difference.
When sustainability lends itself naturally to different subjects across the curriculum, it can be threaded through different lessons over the course of the day. For example, you might learn about passive houses in a science lesson, or rising sea levels might be a conversation topic in a geography class.
The Build the Change weekly resources cover sustainability from a range of angles and allow you to pick and choose activities. This means it can be incorporated into lessons or the school day whenever makes the most sense. You might decide to weave this Build the Change resource on how smart computers can save forests into a technology lesson, or get your science class fascinated by the idea of lab-grown hamburgers. Yet it can also fit nicely into short pockets of the day, with short bursts of activity suited to form time or after lunch.
Source ready-to-go resources
We know lesson planning can be the bane of educators’ lives. Sustainability is a huge topic that young people have lots of questions on, so planning lessons can be time-consuming. But there are a whole host of engaging sustainability resources out there that you can simply get up on the interactive whiteboard or print off and use with your class.
The Build the Change Tuesday worksheets are free, no-prep, no-fuss resources written by journalists and educators that can be used instantly to bring children up to speed on sustainability issues and enable them to voice their opinions. Members of The Day can also receive other climate resources as part of their subscription, from whether economic growth is preventing us from meeting climate targets to whether the world has done enough to prevent climate change.
Think practical and simple
Inspiring the next generation of changemakers starts by getting them to think about how they would tackle these issues. That doesn’t mean students need to solve global warming, but they can begin to explore solutions and ways of living that cause less harm to the planet, such as creating a habitat for endangered animals to survive.
The aim is to engage young people in the issues and inspire them to feel they can make a difference. By giving them practical design, problem-solving or creative challenges to address sustainability issues, they can begin to feel empowered.
Every Build the Change Tuesday article features a hands-on Build the Change challenge related to the news story. For example, an article about rising sea levels inspires students to think about how humans might one day live underwater and challenges them to build an underwater habitat using craft materials or LEGO® bricks. These ideas can be shown to real-life sustainability figures by entering the LEGO competition, where a photograph of students’ ideas just needs to be submitted to the gallery. You can download this pack to find out more.
Empowering your students
When you’re thinking about how to teach sustainability to school students, the most important thing to remember is that you’re preparing them to make a real difference.
Igniting a passion for sustainability where they understand the impact of human actions and genuinely want to make a difference is the best way to give students the tools to become agents of change. How does what they read in the news affect their local community, their home life, or their school?
Put learning into practice
When you’re thinking about how to teach sustainability to school students, think about your school. How sustainable is it? How can you make it more eco-friendly?
Giving students projects that can enable a change right away is a fantastic way to put their passion for sustainability into practice.
You can use students’ ideas to put real-life projects to improve your school’s sustainability by entering The Day’s competition with the LEGO Group. Winning entries can win £2,000 for their school to put towards these projects and take the next step in sustainability.
Illustrated by Sutthiya Lertyongphati
Accompanying podcast episode:
As your children’s high school career nears its end, achieving good grades becomes ever-more important. There’s a lot at stake, in particular, the range of colleges from which they can choose after graduation. And with the cost of a college education being so high, excellent grades could be worth money in the form of bursaries and sponsorships. Even kids that don’t want to study further need to work hard. If a high school diploma is to be their highest educational achievement, it will be with them for the rest of their working careers.
While being a pushy parent can be counter-productive, keeping your children motivated in their final years of high school can be a challenge. Try the following strategies to improve their chances.
#1: Get Help From a Private Educational Counsellor
Can you offer the right guidance for your child to get into top colleges? Chances are, you need an inside edge. Going Ivy College Consulting works with your children to help them map out their future for themselves, choosing the right courses and the right elite colleges to set them up for success.
If going ivy isn’t on the cards, career counselling can still be enormously beneficial. Having an impartial third party to talk to about their future helps your children to feel more in control of their future learning and career paths. With a future they decided for themselves to look forward to, the chances of giving their final years at school their best effort becomes more likely.
#2: Be Supportive
Parents want to see their children embarking on a secure career. Sadly, this can lead to conflict and a lack of motivation at school. For example, your daughter says she wants to study drama. You’re horrified and suggest accounting instead. With your support for what she really wants to do being absent, how motivated will she be as her final high school year draws to a close? Will your support for her exam preparation make a difference?
If you think your child is making a risky career choice, tell them about your concerns by all means, but never withdraw your support. Your aspiring drama student will open several career paths through her studies. For example, if she isn’t able to become a movie star, she can still apply her skills to teaching theatrical skills to kids. Whatever happens, remember that it’s up to your children to choose their careers, and not up to you.
#3: Give Them Time
Although you feel that choosing a future career is an urgent matter, your high schooler may not feel ready to commit. Let’s be fair. A school student has no experience of the working world, and may not have found his or her passion yet. Some kids need to spend a year or two in the working world before they discover what they really want from a career. Push too hard, and your children might end up studying something they committed to on a whim only to find that it isn’t really for them.
By all means, provide opportunities for them to explore possible careers, but make it clear that you aren’t pushing for a big decision just yet. When they find a career they can fall in love with, you’ll be ready to support them. Until they find their path, you’ll still be there for them whenever they need you. Apply too much pressure, leave your child with the impression that it’s about you and not about them, and they might decide the whole thing is a nasty business and start underperforming at school.
Strike the Balance
We all have ambitions for our children, but ultimately, their future is up to them. Although you may not be sure that your children are making the right decisions, your role is that of wise counsellor and ardent supporter. It can be difficult, but the decision maker in this instance is your child. Opposing their wishes or pushing too hard will be counter-productive. Help your child to build a vision of his or her future that’s all their own.
Illustrated by Sutthiya Lertyongphati
Accompanying podcast episode:
I’m currently working through an excellent online course offered by the University of Queensland via EdX. The course is entitled ‘Deep Learning through Transformative Pedagogy‘. It’s absolutely fascinating and I would highly recommend the course for any teacher who is serious about helping students prepare for examinations, catch-up on missed work or understand complex content.
In today’s blog post I aim to share:
- What I have learned about deep and surface learning from the course so far
- Some practical ways in which deep learning can be encouraged in the classroom
So, get ready for a deep dive into this compelling topic!
A brief history behind the development of deep learning practices (and why surface learning is no longer enough)
The course began with brief history of schooling, and how technology has been a key driver for the need to educate children. The point was made that surface learning (e.g. memorization of facts) may have been sufficient in the past. However, for our learners today, facts can change very quickly. Skills need to be upgraded regularly and throughout one’s life. As a result, teaching has seen a massive shift from teacher-centred approaches to those which are learner-centred. Contemporary pedagogical approaches, such as constructivism (where students are active participants in their own learning and construct new knowledge based on links to current understandings and prior fundamentals) have an important role to play in this new, digital age.
It’s important to remember throughout today’s blog post that effective and active learning are two sides of the same coin: to be effective, learning must be active. Research shows that learner-centred approaches to teaching that change and develop student thinking get better results in terms of student learning outcomes than traditional information transmission methods.
What is deep learning, and how is it different to surface learning?
Deep learning means asking big questions. When students have the opportunity to explore a topic: asking the why, what, where, when and how behind some concept, idea or process, they learn a plethora of different things and extend their knowledge and understanding.
Surface learning involves rote memorization, and I saw a lot of this happening when I worked in China. Examples included colleagues who had very high-level credentials from top universities in Asia, but who were unwilling to perform classroom practical tasks/experiments with students because either ‘the students didn’t need to do that to pass their exams’, or the teachers themselves felt nervous due to inexperience. This seemed to really show itself in one subject in particular, however: mathematics. Students would be trained to learn lots of formulae, and would be given an astronomical number of drill questions to do for homework. However, when it came to applying the mathematics to an unusual or real-life problem, many students struggled.
Since taking the online course with the University of Queensland, I’ve learnt a number of interesting facts about deep learning:
- Deep learning often involves revisiting and reviewing a topic, and can be achieved through tasks in which students are involved in active problem-solving.
- Neuroscience teaches us that the brain is plastic, and that chemical changes actually occur during deep learning. Deep learning involves consolidation of knowledge, and is driven by protein synthesis in the brain. Animal studies have shown that when protein synthesis in the brain is blocked, only surface learning occurs.
- Deep learning is a process of integrating new facts we learn about the world into our existing semantic framework.
- Deep learning can be achieved when students are given the opportunity to discover content, knowledge and skills for themselves.
- Deep learning Involves an analysis of the information being collected, allowing a more complete understanding than surface learning can provide.
In contrast to deep learning, surface learning concerns itself only with the knowledge, ideas and content present in a curriculum. Deep learning is all about relating or extending all of that. This surprised me to some extent, as I thought that learning high-demand content (e.g. redox equations in IB Chemistry) would be considered deep learning, when actually it’s just surface learning (even though the content may be considered ‘advanced’). Deep learning would occur when the student is able to apply their knowledge of, say, redox equations, to unfamiliar or extended contexts – such as when the student is tackling sub-sections of an IB HL exam paper in Chemistry, or designing and implementing an experimental investigation into the topic.
It’s important to note that there isn’t a clear-cut distinction between surface and deep learning: rather, there exists a gradation between one and the other. A progression is made from having an idea to having many ideas (surface learning), to relating and extending those ideas (deep learning).
Whilst the progression from surface learning to deep learning follows a continuum, it is also cyclical – as students begin to relate and extend ideas, they come up with new ideas which brings them back to the surface learning part of the cycle.
What kinds of activities can teachers do in the classroom to encourage deep learning to take place?
- The Flipped Classroom: This was something completely new to me which I discovered on this course, and it was really enjoyable to learn about this novel approach to teaching and learning. The basic idea is that pre-reading is done at home and homework is completed in class! The students come to class already prepared with some fundamental knowledge, and then complete activities based upon what they have read. Collaborative activities (e.g. using Padlet) are really good for getting students to reflect on their learning. In terms of the pre-reading to be done at home – this doesn’t actually have to be reading. Short, 5 minute videos that the students have to watch may be enough.
- Give students some prompt material (e.g. a website to use, an information sheet, etc.) and ask students to CREATE something from it. Good things to create include a Google Slides presentation, a Google Site, a Google Doc summary, an infographic, a stop-motion animation, a quiz (e.g. a Kahoot!) and so on. Please note: If you ask students to create something, then make sure they present it to the class in some way (e.g. a short talk). Students can work in groups for activities like this. I’ve written a separate blog post about encouraging creativity in the classroom here.
- Since deep learning can be achieved through revisiting and reviewing content and skills regularly, journaling and past-paper practice can meet the necessary requirements. With past-paper practice, however, make sure that the students make full corrections, and can somehow articulate why they made made mistakes. The process of completing, correcting and reflecting on past-exam paper questions (or exam-style questions) is a problem-solving sequence in and of itself – hence a deep learning activity.
- Practical work that allows students to explore an unusual context, or an extended part of a topic, can definitely encourage deep learning to take place – especially if the students have been involved in the creative design of the task themselves in some way. Think about opportunities you can create for students to design and implement their own experiments, presentations, model-building and practical/hands-on work (e.g. welding together an iron gate, making an item of clothing, building the circuitry for a small radio – it will depend on the subject you teach, of course).
Recommended further reading
Constructivism: Creating experiences that facilitate the construction of knowledge. The University of Buffalo. Accessed: 23rd May 2022.