It is the worst nightmare of every teacher to be stuck in a classroom full of energetic children that seem to be set on not listening to a word you are saying. One of the most difficult lessons to learn as a teacher is to not cave into your first reaction to this type of scenario: yelling at them to be quiet. To make improvements, you must analyze why you lost control of your classroom. There could be any number of reasons, but the two most common are: the students have been sitting still for too long and/or the activity is too difficult for them.
Children need to move. There is nothing wrong with having to burn off some excess energy. As adults, we naturally lose some of that energy so it is easy to forget that is an extremely important part of a child’s day. Signs that the children are becoming “antsy” include hopping around in place, bothering the child next to them and frequent glancing out the window. When these signs appear, it is the teacher’s job to redirect this energy. The easiest way is to just change how they are situated in the classroom. Do one activity sitting down then do one activity standing up. By just allowing their bodies to be in a different position, any activity will immediately seem new and interesting.
The second thing to look for is the difficulty level of your activity. Easy activities are fun, hard ones are not. This is not to say that a child should never be challenged. Rather, it should be one of the teacher’s main concerns that they have the tools to eventually grasp the new material. Each smaller skill set that pertains to the larger and more difficult task must be mastered. The students are then able to take what they know and apply it to the next level.
As adults, it is easy to become frustrated with a child's inability to sit and act like an adult for an extended period of time. However, children are just that: children. In order to teach them the skills of focus and discipline, a teacher must work with the needs of the child, not the adult.
More entries: December 2010
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