Online 
 English Language Center

Module 06

Video Transcript: Module 06, Managing Large Classes

In recent years, the demand for English has increased. Schools around the world have responded by adding more English classes into the curriculum. Class sizes can be quite large and, in some cases, are growing even larger. Classes of 50-75 students are not uncommon. Many people in education are asking themselves:

  • How do large classes affect an instructor’s ability to teach, and a student’s ability to learn?
  • And, how do large classes affect the quality of education?

Teachers may not be able to answer these as research questions, but they can examine pedagogical techniques and classroom management practices that make the best of large classroom situations.

Module Focus: Introduction

In this module we'll look at classroom management from the perspective of:

  • Pedagogical planning.
  • Classroom learning systems.
  • And, student behavior (or, discipline).

#1 Viewing Points: Pedagogical Planning

Video segment #1. Teachers worldwide share the goal of working to create a caring, supportive environment that supports maximal student learning. We know that each class needs to be well-planned and organized, with clearly structured lessons that keep learners motivated and engaged. In addition, we, as teachers, can…

  1. Give diagnostic tests at the beginning in order to discover each student’s strengths and needs.
  2. We can help students set their own learning goals and develop learning strategies that work well for them.
  3. We can think of students as having a range of abilities and as “works in progress.” We can, avoid labeling such as, “That student is smart. That one is stupid. That one never listens.”
  4. We can individualize interactions as much as possible. We can learn student names or use student identifiers such as name cards, so students feel important and feel that we know them.
  5. We can create a plan that allows us to give individual attention to a particular set of students each day. We can rotate, so that over 2-3 days, each student or student group gets some individual attention.
  6. We can work with administrators and fellow teachers to regularly update the curriculum to meet student needs.
  7. And, we can encourage student responsibility and independence by allowing them freedom within the established framework to make choices, to help with classroom logistics, and to help each other.

#2 Viewing Points: Classroom Learning Systems

Video segment #2. The classroom needs to be physically organized in a way that facilitates the lesson, and expected learning procedures and goals. If possible, it should allow for student movement around the class. Another goal is to establish a calm working environment with clear expectations and routines.

Transcript

06:03:45:27

Woman [teacher]:

I WANT YOU TO MOVE TO THE LANGUAGE LAB,

06:03:49:03

TO CONTINUE LISTENING.

06:03:51:00

I JUST LOOK AND CALL THEM "BIRDS."

06:03:53:05

WHO'S GOING TO ANSWER?

STARS.

06:03:55:15

AND EVEN WHEN THEY LEAVE THE CLASS

06:03:57:25

TO GO TO THE LIBRARY OR TO THE LANGUAGE LAB OR TO THE MULTIMEDIA, BIRDS WILL GO FIRST.

06:04:03:00

OF COURSE, I CHOOSE THE NEAREST TO THE DOOR SO THEY DON'T GO HAPHAZARDLY ON THE STAIRS.

Narration, Continued:

Consistent student training at the beginning of the school year helps set up systems for classroom logistics so that students can…

  1. Move smoothly from one activity to another;
  2. Shift in and out of group work quickly; and,
  3. Self-check and peer-check student work.

Transcript

06:04:23:09

YEAH, EVERYBODY AT YOUR TABLE HAS A SALMON EXPERT,

06:04:27:25

SOMEBODY WHO READ WITH ME TODAY ABOUT SALMON AND WHO WILL BE ABLE TO TELL YOU THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SALMON.

06:04:38:24

THEY ARE GOING TO TELL YOU WHAT CLASS OF ANIMAL THE SALMON BELONGS TO.

06:04:46:17

READY? HEADS TOGETHER!

06:04:48:21

[ indistinct conversations ]

06:04:57:19

OKAY, ONE, TWO, THREE, EYES ON ME!

06:05:01:26

RED...NUMBER THREE.

06:05:06:07

BONY FISH.

06:05:07:19

IT'S A BONY FISH. YEAH, THERE'S SOME FISH...

Narration, Continued:

Classroom routines need to be clearly established and carefully followed.

Transcript

06:05:23:26

EVERYBODY ELSE HAS A PRETTY GOOD UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT I EXPECT AND WHAT WE'RE DOING.

06:05:28:26

EVERY DAY'S THE SAME ROUTINE.

06:05:31:08

AND SO -- AND KNOWING THAT, IT JUST MAKES THE DAY RUN REALLY SMOOTH.

06:05:36:12

AND I'M GOING TO READ IT, AND WE'LL ALL READ IT ONCE.

Narration, Continued:

Teachers can…

  1. Keep explanations and directions clear and brief.
  2. They can set up routines for classroom logistics such as attendance, homework correction, paper distribution & collection, work completed, and so on.
  3. They can post the day’s agenda on the board at the beginning of class.

Transcript

06:06:00:23

All: "AFTER THAT, WE WILL DO A SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION -- PRE-READING SKILLS. WE WILL THEREAFTER WATCH A SHORT VIDEO CLIP."

Narration, Continued:

Teachers can…

  1. They can create purposeful activities that keep learners on task. And, they can have additional self-directed activities available for students who finish early.

If you have several large classes, establish consistent routines for all of them. You can use curriculum and lesson plan templates, but keep them general enough so that they can be adjusted for each individual group as needed. Many teachers find it useful to create smaller teaching units within the larger group. When possible…

  1. Give learners responsibility for choosing and doing individual projects in a group they have chosen;
  2. Display student work and projects; and,
  3. Use any available aides or volunteer help effectively.

#3 Viewing Points: Student Behavior (Discipline)

Video segment #3. We, as teachers, know we have authority and know we must use it selectively and wisely. We have an obligation to treat all students fairly and to avoid humiliating them. If we respect them, we know they will respect us.

In addition, we, as teachers, can…

  1. Be proactive rather than reactive. We can establish clear rules and expectations and then follow them for all students. We can even let students establish their own agreed-on classroom conduct guides. Consistency is crucial.

Transcript

06:07:53:21

AS FAR AS MANAGEMENT GOES, IT STARTED FROM DAY ONE, JUST TEACHING THEM, YOU KNOW,

06:07:59:08

"WHEN YOU'RE DONE WITH A CENTER,

06:08:00:26

"IT'S TIME FOR YOU TO CLEAN UP YOUR MESS BEFORE YOU GO ON TO ANOTHER CENTER."

06:08:04:29

AND SO THAT'S BEEN THE RULE, AND THEY'VE DONE REALLY WELL

WITH FOLLOWING THAT RULE AND CLEANING UP BEFORE THEY GO.

Narration, Continued:

[We, as teachers, can…]

  1. We can even let students establish their own agreed-on classroom conduct guides. Consistency is crucial.
  2. We can post class rules and behavior expectations on the wall in both the first and second language.
  3. We can use reward systems and peer reinforcement so that the whole class works toward common behavioral goals.
  4. We can establish consequences for inappropriate behavior and, when needed, apply those consequences in a fair and matter-of-fact manner. To the extent that it seems reasonable, we can postpone individual discipline matters until after class in order to save class time for learning.
  5. We can build into lesson plans both purposeful activities and other opportunities for students to get up and move around the classroom.
  6. We can try to discover the reason for behavior in cases where there are consistent student discipline problems.
  7. And, we can work with administrators and colleagues to determine the extent to which school-wide behavior models can be put into practice and followed by all.

Module Focus: Summary

The focus in Module 06 has been on ideas and effective techniques for managing large classes from the standpoint of:

  • Pedagogical planning.
  • Classroom learning systems.
  • And, student behavior (or, discipline).

There is no one recipe for success on this challenging topic. However, with careful planning, consistency, and perhaps a bit of creativity, we can try to bring more of a “small town feel” and sense of community to our overcrowded classes.

See the manual for readings and more information on this and other topics related to classroom management.