How to Manage your TEFL Classes and See Them Improve.jpg

How to Manage your TEFL Classes and See Them Improve!

I vividly remember a senior teacher observing one of my classes and telling me it was a nightmare. I was sweating, the lesson was a mess, students were swimming on the floor, running around, talking and screaming. It was my first time teaching 6-year-olds in a TEFL class and I just didn't know how how to handle them.

Managing a TEFL class on limited experience is a daunting task. As the aforementioned senior teacher said to me after observing the class, "Never get frustrated, Simba! Never get frustrated".

Below are a few reasons why students misbehave in TEFL classes

1. Poor Planning

Benjamin Franklin once said, "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." A good teacher should be creative, flexible and proactive. Always anticipate problems in your TEFL classes before they get out of hand and include this in the lesson plan. Always include a ‘Plan B’ just in case Plan A doesn't work. Planning the activities you'll use during your English lesson is vital for having a successful lesson, otherwise, both teacher and students can get easily frustrated. Activities in your TEFL classes need to be interesting and interactive to keep students motivated and engaged.

2. Poor time management

Effective management of time is crucial. Some English teachers spend too much time drilling the vocabulary, which sounds like a broken record to the children. Not managing time effectively can lead to boredom and irritation, which results in misbehaved students. Stress is triggered when there is too much to do and not enough time during the lesson, the teacher starts feeling panicky and anxious and loses grip of the lesson - students can sense this; they start to feel pressure and get frustrated.

3. Classroom instructions

Clear, concise instructions play a major role in making the class effective. Communication is so important. If instructions are not communicated effectively, students can get frustrated and their attention can easily be lost. The TEFL teacher should use graded language so that the students can easily understand. Gestures can also be used as a communication tool to assist with unclear instructions. Activities in your TEFL classes should also be kept simple. Students with puzzled looks are a sign that communication is not clear enough. Giving clear instructions is an important way to manage your TEFL classes and seeing your students improve.

4. Poor teaching methods

Sometimes the teacher’s teaching methods are poor and students get irritated and frustrated. We all make healthy mistakes. The crucial point is to recognize the difference between minor mistakes and mistakes that can become larger problems if they aren’t monitored.

Failing to diversify teaching styles in your TEFL classes to accommodate various student learning-styles is a problem. A good example is when presenting new vocabulary, a teacher can use realia to accommodate kinesthetic learners. You can also show students a PPT to accommodate visual learners in the next lesson. Don't be a boring, rigid TEFL teacher. Be flexible and think out of the box.

5. Misbehaving student

I think every TEFL teacher has had that one student that made you scratch your head. A misbehaving student, if not contained, can be contagious as the flu virus and cause other students to misbehave. Jacob Kounin created the idea of the "ripple effect." The idea is that if one student sustains negative behaviour, the rest of the class will see what is taking place and a ripple effect will occur. From experience, when one student misbehaves in TEFL classes others will join in as well. Stopping this negative behaviour is a great way to manage your TEFL classes and seeing your students improve.

On the other hand, a student receiving a reward will motivate others. Managing students’ behaviour in positive ways is the key to success.

Remember, don't get frustrated when things are not going according to plan and be a proactive, flexible teacher.


by Simba Kapembeza

Simba is a qualified and experienced teacher with over four years of teaching experience. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration, a Post Graduate qualification in Education and is currently doing his Masters in Business Administration.

He’s involved in training and developing teachers and is also an ambassador for the TEFL Academy (Ireland and U.K). He’s lived and worked in China for close to two years.