Student Teachers what to do when You’ve Lost Control of your Classroom

You’re on your last evaluation day of student teaching – the day that will decide whether you pass or fail. The school you are student teaching at is one of the worst in the city. The class you were allocated contains George, a mischievous student who never listens, Lily, who’s always chatting with her friends and a gang of boys who keep throwing paper airplanes at you.

Your evaluator sits at the back of the room, intently dissecting your behavior and hanging on your every word.

This is a very legitimate fear of many student teachers around the world. But how do you address it? We’ll use the above example throughout this article.

1. George – the student who never listens

Not listening will usually not be a problem for student teachers, but the reason why the child might not be listening could be a problem. They might be talking to mates, playing with an electronic game, fiddling with a pen…

You should address these problems first. Then, while you are addressing the class, add in the student who you think might not be listening in your sentence, like this:

“Kinetic energy equals one half times mass times velocity squared, George.”

The student will hear his name being called and most likely search for the source of the utterance – you. This means that you will have gotten his attention without resorting to detention.

2. Lily – the chatter

Talking in class is probably one of the top concerns of teachers in schools everywhere. The best way to address it is very simple. Split the offenders up. For example, if Lily was talking to George, move Lily to the other side of the classroom. If Lily continues conversation with her new neighbor, separate her again – from everybody. Try a spare desk towards the front of the classroom or at the very back.

3. The gang and their paper airplanes

This can be difficult to address but with the right handling you can get it to stop. First you need to separate the gang. ‘Strength in numbers’ does not apply when they are apart. If they continue to throw any object, immediately issue your school’s standard punishment (e.g. detention, picking up rubbish, etc.). If they continue, send them to the principal’s office or escort them at break time.

4. Calling out in class

Someone calling out in class? No problem. Send them out of the class where you can’t hear them – and they can’t hear you. Be careful though, if your evaluator sees that you are ‘depriving’ a child of education, he may make some adjustments to your grade.

I hope you pass your evaluation. Even regular (i.e. non-student) teachers can employ these tactics to curb bad behavior.