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prasad's avatar

Class (classroom) management tips?

Asked by prasad (3841points) September 25th, 2012

Yes, I have looked up and found two questions that are relevant (Q. one and Q. two. I find the tips good.

I have been little more kind towards students. I haven’t reprimanded anyone. So, what it is turning to is students keep on talking in the classroom. Secondly, quality of the assignments (more specifically drawings on sheets) is deteriorating. Do I turn strict on students?

And, few (sincere) students have asked me to be strict since they find others’ talking disturbing.

My fear is, if I turn strict, it will be too hard for students. What should I do? What do I say? any examples?

What are your suggestions? tips? advice? Your response is appreciated in advance.

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27 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

Address is directly in class. Talk about the impact of talking.

You might invite those who plan to talk to do so outside the class, leaving those in the class with an atmosphere where they can learn. Next time you catch them talking, ask them all to leave by name, and not come back in until you invite them in. Also let them know you will be going over material on the next quiz. They can get it from their classmates later, if the classmates are inclined to share.

Or you can stare and be quiet. Just be quiet until they are quiet.

Or you can go and stand next to them while you talk.

Or you can ask them to share what is so important with the rest of the class.

Or you can take off points for disturbing the rest of the class. Or give people who don’t talk extra credit.

Oh so many things to try, and I’m sure there are a million more ideas.

Buttonstc's avatar

What is the grade level of the class/age of the students?

prasad's avatar

Undergraduate, sophomore, mechanical engineering. It was freshmen that I used to teach previously (and they were much silent), but workload has been re-adjusted and I got sophomore students. There are two classes (or divisions) that I teach, both sophomore.

Judi's avatar

It’s still early. Time to declare the honeymoon over.
The best teacher I ever had was Mrs Baker. At the time she was the meanest bitch I ever met. Now, 35 years later, I realize I learned more from her than any other teacher and I am a better person because she was strict and brought order to my otherwise chaotic life. When she pointed out something exceptional in me I knew she meant it because she wouldn’t just hand out feel good compliments. She helped me change my self image.
Your job is not to be their friend. Your job is to help prepare them for life.

JLeslie's avatar

Since it is too late to lay down the rules from the start, I say, yes, you will have to get strict. I would give a fair warning. Telling students there has been excessive conversation during lectures, you find it unnacceptible, and in addition to that some students have complained about it. Tell them going forward when someone is talking in class you will give one warning, and then after that they will be sent out.

Judi's avatar

(I just realized its college. I’m with Wundy. Ask them to take the conversation outside.)

gambitking's avatar

I had the same English teacher my senior year as I did my freshman year. One time in our senior class, everyone was cutting up and talking and being rude and our teacher called us “sophomoric”. That shut everyone up, lol.

But for this case, it sounds like you could benefit from more dynamic assignments that offer more engagement.

I’m also in agreement with the idea of kicking individual students out of the room if they’re breaking your rules and talking too much.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Ask the talkers to leave the classroom and give them a absence. Telling them that before you do it.
Check with department head before pulling the trigger sending them out.

Poor assignments mean poor grades, be strict and grade according to quality of homework. . . that is what will happen when they get to a job in a few years.

BBawlight's avatar

My science class for 6th period is the exact same way. I can’t get anything done and all the teacher does is give out warnings. It is very embarrassing when we have a substitute because my grade (8) represents the whole school. I think you should get stricter and try not to go soft on them because they will take advantage of that. Let them know that you don’t play and that school is not time to be social.

CWOTUS's avatar

Part of your responsibility as the teacher, I think, is to prepare the students for “life on the outside”. That is, that they will have to act professionally when they get out of college and go on to employment in the fields in which you’re instructing them, and it’s best if they get started with that now and develop those habits of attentiveness and respect for others that will be (mostly) demanded of them during employment.

Sure, there can be short breaks from the routine and time for silliness and socializing once in a while (such as when the teacher makes a mistake and the class has a laugh), but you are there to teach a university class to students who have (presumably) paid a price (or worked hard to earn a scholarship) to be there. To detract from their paid time is an insult and affront to them.

With some people, you have to be that plain. Be that plain with them.

Buttonstc's avatar

You asked: “Do I turn strict on them?”

Yes, absolutely. It’s obvious they’ve been taking advantage of your good nature.

They are old enough to know better. Require more of them.

You said you’re afreid it will be too hard for them. Huh? How is requiring them to act like polite adults being too hard? Stop being afraid of whether they will like you or not. You aren’t there to make friends. You are there to teach them; not just course work but how to behave properly in the adult world in which they will soon be expected to earn a living.

Treat them as adults and require that they give you their best effort both in conduct and in course assignments.

Regardless of age level, it’s a basic truism that students will get away with as much as you allow them to. Stop allowing it.

Obviously it would have been better if you’d have started off strict to begin with (and next year you should) but it’s not too late to set a standard and hold them to it.

Just warn them in advance and let them know ahead of time that things will be changing. Since they abused their freedom, this is the result.They will know exactly what your talking about.

And then stick to your guns about it. Don’t be apologetic about it. Set the rules firmly and don’t vary from one day to the next. Consistency is key.

Once they know they can no longer get away with this crap, you’ll be surprised at how quickly they shape up. But you must be consistent about it. Otherwise it’s just chaos.

Even tho the age group I taught was younger, my basic attitude was that I cared little whether or not they liked me, but they would respect me.

But respect is not automatic. It is earned by being fair, impartial and consistent about standards and discipline. The sensible ones will like you for requiring more of them and the class as a whole. The rest don’t matter.

JLeslie's avatar

@CWOTUS I disagree a college professor’s job is to prepare students on how to behave in the real world when it comes to basic etiquette. The professor’s job is to teach their subject matter for the course, and they are entitled to some respect.

YARNLADY's avatar

You must turn strict. Start by telling them you expected adult behavior in this class, and you aren’t getting it from some students.

In the future, any student disrupting the class will be singled out and dismissed for the day. Remind them of the school policy regarding absences.

prasad's avatar

So, I should be strict. I agree. I have a lecture tomorrow and I will be strict. Thanks, you indeed fired me up to think to be real strict. I will explain rules to them clearly – a fair warning. I will tell them I am going to consider everything (including their behavior) in their grades (it’s called term work marks here). When I catch someone talking, I will single out one by one miscreants and note down their names and roll numbers followed by a reprimand. I am thinking of some more types of punishments, but will start with as above. I will update tomorrow.

JLeslie's avatar

@prasad It sounds a little over the top to me actually. Maybe once you just say the behavior is unnacceptible in class they will just stop. I don’t know, maybe I am idealistic.

Judi's avatar

In college punishment just doesn’t work. Just tell them that conversations durring lecture needs to be moved to the hall. It will be their responsibility to get any information they missed from sources other than you.
By this age they should be able to make the decision about throwing away their education dollars on their own. It’s your responsibility to teach the students who want to learn. Those that don’t are big boys and girls now and should be given the freedom to leave if they want. Of course, the natural consequence of that will be that their lack of participation will be reflected in their grade.
At this age it should be about THEIR choices determining their destiny, not a tyrannical teacher.

JLeslie's avatar

@Judi said it much better than me.

prasad's avatar

Today was all right. I stood there without talking for first minutes and it was all silence. Then, I slowly told them some rules. I have given them in writing some material (dictated) and a diagram, and said I am going to ask questions on this in the next lecture. I sensed, after the lecture, they are afraid of me.

@JLeslie They stopped alright for today. I wonder what it will be in the next lecture (Tuesday). In the meanwhile, I can monitor them in labs (called practicals here).

@Judi They should be mature, but here in India, what happens is their parents pay the fees and they don’t seem to understand its value. It may be cultural difference, because they haven’t earned anything till now (they will get their first job after graduating).

Only problem I have is they keep talking. Because I have heard complaints of the same class from other faculty that they shout and make noises, etc. At least, they respect me something. May be because I have been patient with them and once or twice I answered some questions raised by few students on the material that was yet to be taught.

Right now, I am in a dilemma of which strategy to choose – strict discipline or humor.

JLeslie's avatar

I think you can be strict without being punitive. It’s about communicating your expectation in the classroom, not about punishing them I think. Sure there should be a consequence for not being respectful, but I just felt marking down their grade for it was too elementary level. I am not even sure I was graded on behavior in primary school; certainly not secondary school. I always like a little humor, but if they are totally out of hand you can’t use it much.

Hopefully, they will continue to be respectful as they were today.

prasad's avatar

I think I should start next lecture with fair warning, just to remind them…

Judi's avatar

If their parents are paying for it and they get a bad grade because they spent class time in the hall talking then they will have to face their parents when they get a bad grade.

kalrbing's avatar

I know I’m very late, but I teach middle school students and have similar issues. For adults paying for school or somehow having it paid for. I agree with @JLeslie , they can get out. If they want to waste their money, so be it. It is not fair to the people who want their education. That is ridiculous. Even if you have always been nice with them, that would be an awesome wake up call. It’s the truth. If you are here to waste your money, skip my class. It would allow the people who want to be here to get what they want out of this class.

Buttonstc's avatar


Good questions get revived from time to time and that’s the way the founders of Fluther designed it so it’s all good. And some of us enjoy a trip down memory lane with older Qs every now and then.

So, how is your teaching coming along? Back in 2011, you were brand new and trying to figure out how to not be a pushover (like all of us did in our own first-year)

So, now it’s several years later and they didn’t drive you to quit, so that’s a good sign :)

And it’s great to see you back at Fluther.

prasad's avatar

@kalrbing and @Buttonstc Though I am not completely successful so far, but I am trying. Now this semester is over, and I will have to wait for couple of months. By then, I will do the preparations.

And, I have learned yet another thing. I have been deceived by students many times, and they got me into believing them. At first, I was ashamed of myself that how easily anyone can trick me, but when I look back, I can laugh at myself. And, I have come to know that I have yet to learn many more things!

kalrbing's avatar

It is such a struggle to teach when you are good at heart and not used to having to be the one in charge. I initially thought it would work out easy because I had been a leader in ROTC, Class discussions, and sports teams. While I found that I was easily listened to and respected by my peers, it is such a different story when you are not being facilitated by a coach or teacher. I can tell you, I know I will have to hold back my loving/friendly side until my students are aware that I will not take anything but what I ask for in my class. As you, @prasad , I have not fixed everything yet. I still have some things happening in class that make me look weak to my students, but I have found that I can sometimes acknowledge that I made a mistake and let them know they will never have it that easy again. For instance, one day I got so fed up with the interruptions and back talk that I just gave them the last 10 minutes. I just gave up. After refreshing myself, i came back the next day and let it be known that anyone interrupting me or back talking would get a write off. This fixed a majority of the problems, but it doesn’t phase some students. i still follow this, though.The trick is sticking to it and having support from administration when you want to fix things.

prasad's avatar

@kalrbing Yeah. I need to get little tough and focus on consistency.

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