Can you give me some tips for teaching unruly teenagers?

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Can you give me some tips for teaching unruly teenagers?

Unread postby simpler » 15 Jan 2008, 01:27

I've been brought in to teach 17 teenagers from the eastern bloc. The last teacher quit because of stress and in some ways I can see why.

I am a newly qualified CELTA teacher, and today was my 1st day teaching a real class.
I didn't have any lesson plan prepared as theappointment was very short notice..So I kind of just led a conversation class with them. By the end of our 3 hour slot, I still had 17 students in the classroom i.e noone had left and I didn't feel distraught. So that's a result I suppose.

The group all know each other and have a pretty good grasp of English. Upper Intermediate - I'd say. How do I get them to not talk over each other and actually pay attention. They shout, speak in their own language, mobile phones go off etc. This is despite me setting rules at the beginning forbidding all this.

Does anyone have any pointers. I guess this is about classroom management. Is it just wishful thinking to believe that if go in with a structured lesson plan tomorrow, I'll have less trouble?

Simpler :)

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Re: Can you give me some tips for teaching unruly teenagers?

Unread postby Lucy » 18 Jan 2008, 20:33

Dear Simpler,

I can totally sympathise with you. Teaching teenagers is not easy (even for experienced teachers) and it is all the more difficult when they are unruly.

It’s unfortunate that you didn’t have time to plan the first lesson and I think it’s a good idea to plan your next lesson with the students. They might see structure in the lesson and you will feel more in control of what is happening in the classroom. If you feel in control, you will be better able to handle the situation.

You were right to set rules at the beginning; you now need to make sure they are respected. For this, don’t accept any digression from the rules. If anybody shouts or speaks in their own language, remind them firmly and calmly of the rules. You will find that it is sometimes enough to go and stand next to the person who is disrespecting the rules for them to stop. Try to avoid shouting because you just raise the volume in the classroom and make it acceptable for others to shout. Have a box (or something else) ready and ask students to place their phones in it at the start of the lesson; make sure all phones are switched off and explain to students that you will return them at the end of the lesson. You might want to relax this rule when you get to know the students better.

As the students know each other already, I think it would be a good idea to move the students around. Don’t allow them to sit with their friends; you decide the make-up of groups and pairs. Also change groups occasionally. This will prevent students from getting too familiar with each other. You can speak to other teachers in the school; if they know the students, they might be able to tell you which groups work.

You can also look at my responses to similar questions in this forum – I’ve answered quite a few on teaching teenagers.

Finally, you can give yourself a pat on the back; you did all the right things in this first lesson.


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