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When it comes to managing a
classroom, the key rule for it is getting students involved all the time. This
cannot be accomplished without a well-designed lesson that addresses all levels
and learning styles inside the classroom. 
That’s why using a variety of activities can keep the students engaged
in the learning process. In Egypt, it can difficult sometimes to vary the
activities the way I want because the teachers are expected to use the tasks
that are previously prepared by the curriculum designers and therefore this
leaves little room for creativity. However, the way the task is introduced and
the way the teacher behaves in the middle of the task and after each one can
vary. For example, when I introduce a new pre-listening activity, before
delving into the tasks set by the students’ books, I try to introduce it by
linking it to some familiar context to the students’ environment and prior
knowledge like cartoon series they are familiar with or a movie that I expect
many students to have previously watched. That will arouse students’ schema and
make them more interested in the subject of the lesson. I may also draw a
spider diagram on the board with the main subject of the lesson in the middle
and try to generate as much vocabulary as possible from students and have these
words written on the board. I then start dealing with the tasks in the book
which involve either pair or group work. In the middle of each task, I do not
sit passively. I walk round the class and listen to students’ discussions. I
offer help to any students who get confused. I then provide my feedback at the
end of each activity.

There is nothing as boring as keeping
on doing a monotonous set of activities one after another without a meaningful
pause. That is why I always try to keep the sense of humor inside my classroom.
This includes making funny remarks in the middle of the activities as well as
giving students a breathing time between activities by giving them funny
language riddles or tongue twisters related to the subject learnt. I am also
keen on printing any funny material I come across over the internet or in
extra-curricular books related to the subject the students learn. I have always
found this useful for the long-term memory of students. In addition, it keeps
the class engaged in the learning process in a relaxed anxiety-free atmosphere.
Boredom can take place if the teacher keeps on his or her set of patterns.
Hence, a good teacher should break their own rules every now and then. If he or
she often wears formal clothes, they should turn up one day in a casual outfit
(unless the school sets a uniform for all teachers). If they normally stand up,
they should sit down now and then. If they play background music while
explaining the lesson or having the students do a task, they should pause it
every now and then, and so on. Breaking the routine adds a sense of curiosity,
surprise and anticipation.

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When a student gets uninterested,
they may become disruptive. Hence, I try to address the different levels and
learning styles in my class. I involve willing students in role-playing, acting,
having them draw on the board or miming and these tasks benefit the tactile/
kinaesthetic learners. I try to involve those learners who have a strong visual
learning style by keeping an eye contact with students, organizing the board,
drawing shapes that attract them, using printed pictures , using different
colors when I write on the board and whenever possible I take the class to the
computer lab to show them videos related to the syllabus. As for auditory
learners, I draw their attention by involving them in group discussions and
debates, varying my tone, get them to impersonate the different characters in a
novel or sing any poems they might have. Similarly, every class has its “eager
beavers” as well as slow learners. That’s why I always vary the difficulty of
the exercises with which I provide my students.

I believe that motivation is the key to success. In
the same way, it keeps the students engaged in the lesson. Hence, I always try
to motivate my students by giving them positive feedback, compliments and
rewards for their answers, which I believe creates a positive atmosphere and
inspires students’ confidence. I try to tolerate minor grammatical and
pronunciation mistakes produced by students so as to give them more confidence to
participate. Motivation
can occur by introducing a positive image of the culture of the target language
and its speakers. That’s why I always try to develop a good attitude to the
English language. Likewise, I try to correct the deformed concepts they may
have about the western cultures in general and about the English and American
cultures in particular. I do this by passing the positive experiences I went
through when I was lived in the UK to them. Also, and for motivation to be
effective, the learning conditions should be made as pleasant as possible. For
this reason, I encourage students to decorate the classroom walls by adding
their own wall charts, posters and ornaments. If I give them handouts, I
usually make them colored. I use attractive backgrounds and illustrating shapes
when I prepare a PowerPoint presentation. I always try to be fair to all my
students and show the same interest to all of them. I show patience, interest
and appreciation when I answer students’ questions.

“Troublemakers” do exist in each and
every classroom. This problem can get worse in big classes as where I work.
However, it helps to be as patient as possible. In addition, the teacher’s
attitude towards his or her students is what affects how he/she behaves towards
them, which, in turn, will definitely affect how the students will react
towards their teacher. Pedagogists have always said and I quote “Students will
not care how much you know unless they know how much you care”. In other words,
there are some teachers who give instructions to their students and have the
students understand and follow them; others can give instructions and might be
ignored or laughed at. All depend on the teacher’s own attitude, which should
be based on respect and understanding his or her students’ needs, likes,
dislikes, psychology and logic. An adult usually thinks first and acts later.
This is often reversed when it comes to a child. They would spontaneously act first
then think later.

I remember a rule I learned from a
brilliant professor when I was at university and I follow it strictly. The rule
states that “a good teacher should not shout more than once a year.” Actually,
I do not think a teacher should shout at all. Moreover, there is nothing worse
than showing anger to a whole classroom. It simply encourages future
resistance. Further, there is nothing worse than labeling a student as a
problem student rather than regarding them as students with problem. Hence,
when a student breaks a rule or disturbs the lesson, I try to find out the
reason behind their misbehavior and find excuses for them when possible. I
would assume that they have a question or need permission to do something. If
not, I try to keep my reaction as infinitesimal as possible then see what
happens. A look, a warning or moving the troublemaker somewhere near to the
teacher can do in most cases. Even when I criticize a student, I coat my
criticism with a nice compliment. For example, I may tell a student “I notice
that you are very intelligent and can easily understand. However, you need to
put your understanding into practice and work hard”. Also, giving the student a
warning can prevent further misbehavior because it would give the student a
choice and time when they start to think about their behavior and its potential
outcome. However, repeating the warning again and again without really doing
anything can lead students to ignore you thinking you are not serious or giving
idle threats. Likewise, there are types of behavior which must not be ignored,
and the teacher must use immediate consequences for example, violence or
vandalism.  In any case, I rarely use
bigger stepped consequences that include mark reduction for behavior, sending the
student out in the corridor, taking some of their break time to help me with
some jobs for the class or sending them to the student counselor or the
headmaster. Actually, this has never happened during my teaching period at my
current school.  

Throughout my experience as a teacher
of English, I have noticed that students who cause the most problems inside the
classroom are the very same students on whom you can depend to control the
classroom because they tend to be leaders who might encourage further resistance
inside the classroom. Hence, having such student as your ally inside the
classroom is far more beneficial than labeling them as troublemakers. They can
even encourage their classmates to have a positive behavior. This can be
accomplished by trying to understand them, trying to give them a
non-exaggerating positive feedback and trying to befriend them.

I believe I might encounter some
challenges related to classroom management in the U.S host school because of
the difference in rules, culturally accepted behavior and the way few students
may regard the target culture of the Arabic language. Depending on the age
range of the students, I anticipate that I might encounter some disruptive
talking, inappropriate remarks about the target culture, harassment to
classmates, clowning behavior or unwillingness to do some work. I think such
behavior can be handled with patience, friendliness, sense of humor, tolerance
and understanding. Both hostile and permissive teachers do not create a
suitable atmosphere for the students to learn. Hence, I believe that being
flexible, preserving a calm but controlling mood and giving the smallest
consequences possible when faced by misbehavior are the keys to a good
classroom atmosphere.  I think after the
lapse of some time, and along with well-prepared engaging activities, such behavior,
if existed, would fade away. I also plan to keep in touch with the students’
guardians through emails, phone calls or letters making positive notes
regarding the students’ progress. In addition, I believe that rewarding good
behavior, punctuality and hard work always pays when it comes to classroom
management. Hence, I plan to reward good students through compliments, wall of
honor, or small gifts when possible. Chocolate bars have worked for me like

Keeping in mind the rich diversity in
races, beliefs and in some cases the strong influence of a mother tongue other
than English that produced a hybrid language (Spanglish or Chicano for example)
of students in the United States’ classrooms, I expect to come across comments
made by students which might be inappropriate or might be considered as
offending to other peers in the very classroom. Hence, I believe that I need to
negotiate and set some simple rules of conduct at the very beginning of the
school year, rules that the students should follow. Of these rules, respect of
other students and avoiding delving into any discussions or comments related to
creeds, color or politics should be asserted.

As for classroom arrangement, I
believe that the best way to arrange the classroom is to place students where
they can easily pay attention to the teacher. In addition, they should have
easy access in and out of their seats. Further, they should be seated in a place
away from the classroom windows lest they should get distracted by any outside
factors. Last but not least, it should be flexible so as to suit the variety of
activities dealt with and to enable the teacher to move the student who is not
paying attention or causing some negative classroom noise (for example chatting
with a classmate) elsewhere. I think moving this type of student closer to the
teacher might reduce their misconduct. In addition, the teacher can promise
them they would return back to their desired seats if they paid attention to

Not only are slow learners or
attention seekers the ones who might cause disruption to the course but
brilliant students as well. Sometimes when a student feels he or she does not
benefit from the course because their level is head and shoulders above the
others, they can be either disappointed or disturbing. If there is a student
whose Arabic level is already better than others, I will simply involve him or
her in the course via different means. I can set special exercises for them or
ask them now and then to help me explain or illustrate something to their
classmates. This would grant that very student self-confidence and esteem.
Thus, I would keep them interested in the course.  

Having into consideration that I
might be the first Egyptian the students have met, and putting into account
that a positive attitude towards the target culture is essential in fostering
the learning process, I plan to be the ambassador of my country and try to set
a good example that students would look up to and respect. I would always show
them implicitly through my actions not empty words that the image they might
have had about the Arabs is not what all Arabs really are, and that tarring
each and everyone anywhere with the same brush is always wrong.

Expecting trouble is a means to avoid
it so I also believe that I should have an orientation session with the school
social counselor before the beginning of the school year to get me more acquainted
with the types of misbehavior that normally occur in their classroom and the
way in which teachers normally deal with such misconduct which might include
sending a notice to the student’s guardian’s email, keeping a record of
students’ misconduct or mark reduction. I think disciplinary ways vary from a
school to another.  Then again, I
perceive myself as a flexible, tolerant, broad-minded and understanding
character. Hence, I do not think such challenges, if existed, may pose any
interruption for the course I run.


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