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Effective Classroom Management Strategies to Deal with Adult Learners During Online Sessions

by F.R. Fathima Sama | 31 Aug 2021
Resource Description:

The mode of teaching and learning has undergone a transition from a physical mode to a virtual mode due to the unexpected outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Though everyone is aware of virtual classroom, before the pandemic, its actual practice was not widespread as it is now. Therefore, teachers, especially ESL (English as a second language) teachers/ instructors find this mode of teaching quite new to adapt to and rather challenging in terms of classroom management. English language teaching, unlike other subjects which are limited to content delivery, is supposed to promote student-centered learning and interaction between students and teachers or among students for better acquisition of the language being learnt. Hence, compared to other subjects, classroom management in ELT (English language teaching) becomes more difficult and it is even more difficult when the classes are conducted online as students' cooperation is much needed for the successful teaching and learning process. So, here are some tips on the strategies ESL teachers can adopt for effective teaching and learning in the virtual classroom environment.

Audience: Teacher Training, University
Audience Language Proficiency: Intermediate
Teaching Tip:

1. Set and state the rules and regulations beforehand

Instructing students to the netiquettes you expect from them in advance is important as they may take online classes for granted. For instance, as in physical classes, students must be instructed to be punctual, regular and ask to be excused if they have to leave the meeting early. Further, you also can tell them about the consequences of not obeying the rules and regulations. For example, make sure you as the host have the control over who you allow and when you allow your participants. A student must know he/she will not be allowed to join the class if he/she is late to join the class without a valid reason. Also, make them know that the percentage of attendance will be counted to sit for the final examination. Such practices can lead the students to behave well regardless of the mode of classes. However, do not make your rules too rigid and threatening. Being flexible depending on the reason of the students is absolutely fine. You, as a teacher, should know to maintain a balance between being strict and flexible.

 2. Address the issues immediately.

The most common issue that is being encountered in online classes is side conversations of students outside the classroom or unwanted background noise. This disruptive behavior is a hindrance to effective teaching and learning. Firstly, you can ask students to keep their microphones muted and unmute it only when necessary or send a private message to the particular student asking him/her to mute the microphone and to be in an isolated place when attending the class devoid of other background noise as much as possible. If the issue continues to happen, you can put the particular student in the "waiting room" without removing them from the meeting. This type of disciplinary actions should be dealt immediately without much delay.

3. Tell students to keep their video on

Conducting the class while the video of the students is turned off would make them be in their own comfort zone as they are not being monitored. Such comfort would make them less attentive to the lesson or sometimes they may even fall asleep. Therefore, it is necessary to ask them to turn on their videos in order to make them attentive to the lesson. Similarly, it is crucial for teachers to switch on their videos as well since the lesson would reach the students well if they have the chance to see the gestures and body language of the teachers.

4. Call the names of students.

As interaction is important in ESL classes, call the names of the passive students to encourage them to talk. Though, you should make sure you give equal chance for everyone to respond. In a virtual classroom, unlike a physical classroom, there is no struggle for teachers to remember and recall students' names as they will be visible in the participants list. This technique would work well since the students are vigilant about their names being called when they are uncooperative or involved in disruptive behaviors.

 5. Give collaborative tasks

Students may feel monotonous or easily get distracted when they are given individual work to be done in online sessions. Though giving collaborative work is the solution, ESL teachers may think of the effectiveness of giving group work in online classes. This can be done by putting them in "breakout rooms" where you can enter each room to monitor them and encourage the passive students to give their contribution. You also can appoint a leader for each group, especially the passive students and make them use the option "Ask for Help" from the teacher whenever necessary. Moreover, since students' discussions can be heard well in online sessions rather than face to face sessions, monitoring and giving your assistance when necessary is relatively easy. Hence, such practices can draw students' attention into the lesson and prevent them from being distracted or involved in troublesome behaviors.

6. Utilize the technology

Incorporation of the technology in ELT is believed to be a great strategy to manage the students since it draws their attention by appealing to their senses. Teachers may give up employing some interesting tasks in the traditional classroom due to the lack of technological resources. However, this issue can easily be overcome in the virtual classroom where you can utilize the technology to the utmost. For instance, in a virtual classroom, you can share pictures, audio and videos to the students without much effort and time.

 7. Build a positive relationship

As in physical classes, it is important for a teacher to maintain good rapport with the students and create a learning environment that is comfortable and less rigid. You can start the lesson with a warm up activity or throw a joke to the students to make them comfortable. Furthermore, when you have to warn a student for breaking the rules set by you, do it in a polite way without being rude or offensive. For instance, when a student disrupts the class, warn him/her privately without creating a negative vibe when the session is ongoing. Moreover, let students have one-on-one conversations with you through email or a contact number in case of any clarifications or issues. Also, give them the day and time to contact you without giving room for making calls whenever they want. In doing so, you can instill good manners in them while creating a positive relationship.

TESOL Interest Section: Second Language Writing, Video and Digital Media