Classroom Management Techniques

by Jim Scrivener, CUP, Reviewed by Lou McLaughlin

Classroom Management Techniques successfully provides concrete solutions for everyday difficulties encountered by language teachers worldwide. It is divided into seven chapters, each based on a specific topic and subsequently cross-referenced throughout the book, making it extremely user-friendly. The aim of each chapter is clearly stated and is accompanied by an introduction which provides useful background information from both a theoretical and practical viewpoint. The main body is comprised of practical techniques for the classroom, detailing how these can become part of any teacher’s repertoire. The end of each chapter has a reflection section in the form of questions which aims to help the reader personalize the theory and techniques.

The first three chapters deal with three specific areas of classroom management: the classroom, the learner, and the teacher, while the remaining chapters deal with issues surrounding the lesson itself. Chapter one examines class layout and suggests sensible options for class set up. It also considers the effects of different teaching contexts and cultural settings. It shows how problems are multi-layered and how the teacher can solve some of these by exploiting the physical environment.

Chapter two focuses on the teacher’s role in the classroom setting. The reader is given practical advice on the role of rapport, student/teacher friendship as well as the more performance-linked volume, tone, gesture and expression and there are lots of excellent ideas for teachers to try out in class. Use of L1 and graded language are also dealt with here and the detailed rationale underlying their use will give teachers a good insight into both of these areas. Useful real-life examples of how and when to grade language are provided which teachers will be able to refer to as a guide. Newer teachers may find the “prepare but don’t plan” unit a little challenging as it is intended for more experienced teachers who are willing to experiment. The most exciting aspect of the whole chapter is the encouragement provided for teachers to become active researchers in their own classrooms.

Chapter three has a realistic approach to using simple strategies which ensures the focus is on the learners. Newly qualified teachers will find the basic techniques for learning students’ names, getting to know you activities etc. extremely helpful. There are concrete suggestions provided for mixed-level classes which all teachers will find useful and easy to implement. The importance of the learner is emphasized in the final unit with twenty-one functional suggestions listed as to how to make the classroom more learner-centred beginning with a sensible “Start small”.

Chapters four and five are a refreshing approach to intervention and interaction. Key teacher interventions are those instances when the teacher steps in and in this chapter teachers are given a list of ways in which to begin stepping away and reducing the number of unnecessary interventions. Interaction is broken into whole class, pair work, and the world. The suggested techniques may seem obvious at first e.g. nominate students. However, there is a well founded insistence, once again, that teachers do not always do what they think they do in class. Overall, there are some very effective suggestions given as regards doing things differently, which would particularly suit experienced teachers who are looking to develop their skill set.

Chapter six gets to the nitty-gritty of classroom management by dealing with behavioural issues in the classroom. The techniques suggested for dealing with minor interruptions are simple, straightforward and easy to implement, and are extremely important tools for any teacher to have. Perhaps the most relevant element of this chapter is the emphasis placed on focusing on the behaviour as opposed to the person. The final chapter tackles lessons themselves and covers everything from starting the lesson with routines to closing courses and follow-up, providing teachers with a blueprint to follow if they so choose.

Classroom Management Techniques most definitely fulfils its claim of providing “a huge range of down-to-earth, practical techniques”. The numerous examples provided are based on real life cases and are therefore functional “tried and tested” techniques. The book is not prescriptive in any way. Rather, it is meant to be dipped into when necessary. The only criticism of Classroom Management Techniques would be that, although the author claims it is relevant for young learner teachers, many of the techniques seem more suited for the older learner. As a result, it feels as if it is slightly lacking in this regard. Nonetheless, this book is a wonderful resource which should make it onto the shelf in every teachers’ room and resource room.