• ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Receiving and acknowledging students as they come in (giving them a little individual attention – it helps me pick up the mood of each individual) and guide them to settle down (making individualised comments of acknowledgement).
  • ATTENDANCE: records – opened for everyone to see on the screen, we do this first time. If anyone crosses the line of the door 2 minutes late, I put Tardy in their box and they see it. This has curved the tardiness in my lessons.
  • Time keeping: it takes me about 4 – 6 months of consistently keeping the finger on the pulse but these days they very often forget about the end of the class! Until the next group walks in. They feel comfortable in the class and they want to come to the lessons.
  • MAPPING & TRACKING: Assignments spreadsheets also opened on the screen. Everyone centres on where they are at and where they need to be.
  • Records up to date: they usually take pictures of their spreadsheet to know where they are at and what is still pending – they are actually self-managed with my supervision and they like to have that control. They ask me pertinent questions and I help them stay on track.
  • Delegate: I am very careful at all times not to take on what my students should take on themselves. It helps them grow and it liberates my time to manage the classroom within the lesson. It would be almost impossible to keep all my lose ends tied up if I had to leave all the small things for later.
  • SUPERVISION: I verify that paperwork is in place, folders open and up to date, work organised, corrections visible (not necessarily whole term or year folder but a few lessons).
  • CLEAR AUTHORITY & CLEAR BOUNDARIES: who is who, who does what, what is the line they may not cross, who has authority over what… The Status Quo is established in the class very soon and in a very consistent manner and they soon get into a working mode that they all accept and abide by. There is a little bit (or a lot) of toys thrown out of the pram, but soon they learn that I am not impressed and they settle into what seems an acceptable mode of work.
  • The students themselves help me maintain this Pecking Order once established as it works for everyone’s benefit and it has been accepted as fair: if someone gets out of line, they themselves admonish each other.
  • They all know they are treated equally within their differences: they all are allowed their quirkiness and different personalities, without interfering / clashing with each other.
  • They all want to be considered the same. In fact, they tend to help each other when anyone has a question or a suggestion. There is a good will created on the basis of fair discipline: this pecking order gives them power – they know that there is a space for them to stand up / speak up and they use their voice. This helps them grow.
  • I don’t stop them when they admonish each other or they voice the rulesI simply reinforce the voice that is correct reminding anyone who is pointing out their finger to someone else, forgetting their own wrong-doings. They normally laugh at this, accept my comment, and the energy goes back into balance. This way, the group grows with the norms / rules and the rules can be relaxed and stay latent according to the group’s growth into taking responsibility.
  • When / if things go out of control that is the time I do talk to parents. It comes a time that students learn that their chances to prove themselves by themselves are up and that I don’t make empty threats; they must know that I am not scared of them or their parents and that I am prepared to work with such parents in order to get the students into line, if they push me into it.
  • HOMEWORK REVISION, INDIVIDUALIZED / PERSONAL ATTENTION: after everyone is settled down, we proceed to give back checked work and individually go over their corrections. I can do this because they are small groups. They feel that they get the attention they need, their 15 seconds of fame. They get their needs met and they settle down into continuing to work.
  • EFFICIENT USE OF THEIR TIME: Everyone is quiet when someone is being attended to. They all wait for their turn as I call them. They have been trained to get busy while I am focusing on something or someone.
  • At the beginning, they used to sit on the tables, chat and look at me but they soon learned to take out their working materials (computers, telephones, headphones, folder, pens…). But I made clear very quickly that they don’t need me / I don’t need to be present for them to use their time efficiently: they get on with their work by using the existing system (Colls) until I am available. It is a matter of being proactive.
  • TIME FOR QUESTIONS: when a student has a specific question or requires explanation of an item or specific support, I ask out loud who else needs this. We usually do online exercises from the internet on the large screen.
  • CONSENT: I ask to know who is interested and receive consent. Otherwise the others can get on with their work, but usually they all pay attention and like collaborating with each other. Usually there is an explanation and then there are quiz-like exercises >> they like to compete and get it right first. This changes the dynamics in the class and they spark up.
  • NEGOTIATION: I give the students an opportunity to take responsibility for themselves. The first couple of times when I see that someone is not clicking into gear or anyone is out of line, they get the strong voice (not quite a reprimand yet – that comes later).
  • I will ask in a neutral but firm voice: “do you want me to send your mother a message?” or / and show them their online Colls log. When they see their performance in the screen and realise that their parents are going to learn the naked truth, the realisation that they can’t hide / that facts speak for themselves usually gives them a wake-up call, so generally they will ask me not to send a message and they tend to quite quickly get into working mode.
  • TRUST: I reiterate that if they take responsibility, no message is needed and indeed, I don’t normally have to talk to parents at this stage. In fact, I do this so that they know that I am trying to trust them and that they can trust me. I give them a chance to come up to my expectations and standards.
  • COMMUNICATION: I keep parents as well as students aware of what is going on, on a regular basis; a communication path open at all times to create mutual trust and a point of cooperation. I start gaining their trust by being in touch on a regular basis about the small but important things.


By Dr Ana Garcia Phd, DTM.

September 2017