Classroom Management III – Your Position in the Classroom

Classroom Management

How you move around in the classroom can have a greater impact on your students than you might realize. Myself, when I was in school I enjoyed the active teachers who moved around a little bit while they were talking. It was a nice break from sitting down looking at the same thing all day, and I try to use all the floor space in my classroom as much as possible when I am teaching.

Your position in the classroom

Depending on the classroom you teach in, you may have the ability to move around between students, or you might be confined to stay in the front or in a corner of the classroom for the entire lesson. Teaching in public schools in China, often means big classrooms with 40+ students and very little room to move, where private training schools usually have less students and more floor space. And while it is absolutely fine for you to move around if you can during class, it is always important to remember what you are doing, and where you should be standing for what you are doing right now. Giving instructions, for example, works best if you are standing front and centre, where everyone can see you, but giving suggestions and helping a single student can be done by their desk without disturbing everyone else.

For instructions, explanations and starting activities, it is best to take a central position in the front of the classroom. You have to be in a place where everyone, or at least as many as possible, can see and hear you clearly, otherwise you will have to explain yourself again. If you are standing in the front, you only have to talk in one direction for everyone to hear you. If you are standing in the middle of the classroom, some will hear you better than others.

If students are working individually, in pairs or in small groups, you can move from group to group and monitor their progress and offer help to those who need without having to disrupt the other groups. How you can move, depends on the layout of the class but I have found it is a good idea to move around if you can.

If you are talking to individual students or small students, crouch down near them. Make it a gesture that students recognise, so that if you are crouched by someone, other students know to hold their question until you get back up. It will help prevent students interrupting you while you are trying to help others. It also brings you down to “their level” and it somehow makes you seem more human. Remember, the students spend all day looking up to their teachers, when we come down to their level, they often feel a little more comfortable talking to us. In the classes that I teach at my school, I actually spend a lot of time sitting down in front of my students. I try to keep a very friendly atmosphere in my classes and while I am still their teacher, my students also see me as kind of a friend. You need to teach them to know when you are their friend and when you are their teacher, but I have found that the atmosphere in my classroom is very relaxed and that students enjoy the way I bring myself down to be with them in this way.

Especially with younger students, you can go as far as to sit with the students in a circle, perhaps all the way down on the floor if they don’t mind. If your students are comfortable around you, they are more likely to trust you, and to want to try and answer and perform during class. Which in turn makes teaching more interesting for you, and more beneficial for them.