Many times I have hit the drum on how discipline is the core for success in an education setting. I have complained about the despicable levels of discipline in this country and how a lot has to be done in order for us not to lose this fight.
Different things can be done to improve the discipline of our students whether in the form of encouraging good behaviour or discouraging bad behaviour. However there are a few subtle tricks that can go a long way in this effort that all teachers ought to know and utilise.
A smart teacher must have control of his class more than anything else. The skills employed to exhibit this control may vary from one teacher to another but some often cut across the board. For example, there is the mean “Teacher’s look” that most teachers (and parents) often give to a naughty child or class before the child automatically stops whatever they were doing.
To perfect that look, a teacher or parent must practice looking at a naughty child without saying a word or losing eye contact. The look should be the kind that sends a message of shame towards the child who is trying to be naughty.
In a classroom situation sometimes you need more than the shame inducing look to get a grip of your students. One trick that many teachers are taught but ignore is the need to learn the students’ names. Those outside the profession may not know the subtle power of memorising the names of your students but let me elaborate.
Knowing all the names of the students in your class serves like some kind of surveillance system that deters students from being naughty on the grounds that they are not anonymous at all. If you watched the riots in the UK where teenagers were robbing shops you should have noticed that many wore hoods or masks to hide their identity.
In other words, anonymity tends to facilitate crime or naughtiness and, therefore, once it is addressed then opportunities for indiscipline are significantly reduced. This is why it is important to take time to memorise the names of those students in your class. I know it is not an easy task but it is very possible to pull off.
In the first place it is better to focus on the surnames rather than the first names which may be recurring in any class. Make it a point to get at least four or five names each time you enter the class.
Read and try to remember the names written on the students’ book or give a test and note the names written on the scripts. Do not let another student hand out the scripts as you will miss the chance to know the students.
Do not always rely on the names given to you verbally since students may sometimes give wrong names or aliases just to protect one of their own, especially if they figure you intend to punish the student for some wrong doing. Practise calling out the names you have in your head to see if they correspond with the face you know.
Once you have mastered all the names of the students in the class, they will be more responsive and friendly. Calling out one’s name always tend to reduce the psychological gap between people and makes them more comfortable to respond.
It’s almost like if you were in a restaurant or strolling down the street and someone called you out by your surname. You would have to be so pretentious to ignore the person. The same trick will do wonders in class. Thank me later.