eslinsider5 logo


What do you do when you have students who are: not paying attention, talking when they are not supposed to be, misbehaving, or being disrespectful? Here you'll find seven tactics, strategies, and classroom management tips to help you get control of your classroom today.

1. Classroom Rules

Come up with a list of classroom rules, post them somewhere visible and go over them together.


  • Be respectful - Be kind & polite
  • Speak English - No Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese, etc. Bring the needed materials like: homework, books, pencils, etc.
  • Raise your hand
  • Concentrate - Be attentive
  • No electronics (dictionaries may be o.k, but no phones, iPods, etc.)

You could also come up with a list of classroom rules together. Students may like this as they will feel like they had their say.

2. Enforce your Rules

Set up a justice system for when rules are broken. This is applicable for children up to early teens. There needs to be consequences for when a rule is broken.

3. Easy on the Rewards

Rewards are typically overused. If you use rewards, only use them sporadically. If your students come to expect rewards they will become focused on just the reward and not the actual activity or work. Motivation and creativity will be lost.

Do not manipulate your students with rewards. Essentially your lesson should have the reward hardwired into it. Learning is the reward.

4. Using Positive Reinforcement

This one can be challenging at times. The goal here is to focus on the good things going on in the classroom because that is what you want to see. When you see a student make an improvement or even follow the directions you may want to note that out loud, so that the other students can follow their lead.

If you focus only on the trouble makers then you'll likely get more trouble makers. Often students just want attention, so if your attention is on the positive then they will have to do something positive to get your attention.

However, we do not want to go overboard with the praise.

5. Using Peer Pressure

Often one student can be controlled by his peers, group or team. For example, let's say recess is coming and most students have cleaned up their desks, but there is one student (Mike) who hasn't done anything and is just goofing off. Tell the class that nobody can go anywhere until he cleans up his desk.

When the class hears that they will say "Hey Mike!" and Mike will get busy. Students/people are often more easily influenced by their friends and peers than they are by their teachers or parents.

Another example would be, "We can't start the game until Sarah stops talking." Again you'll have the power of numbers in your favor because everybody wants to play the game.

6. Using Competitive Games & Activities

Keeping score by using games and activities allows you to fairly easily keep things in balance. If someone is being disruptive, noisy or whatever you can subtract a point from their team. Again here you'll have peer pressure working in your favor.

If things get a little out of hand with the game, stop it. Often a simple warning will work, but if they don't respond then stop the activity or game and do something less exciting.

7. Using Proximity

You can use space and your body to influence your students. If you have a disruptive student you can go stand next to them and teach from that point. That will usually get them to behave.

Alternatively you can relocate the student. You can save a desk next to the teacher. Or if you have a couple of students (often friends) who are talking, you can move them. Switching their seats and separating them will stop the disruption.

8. Respect

Respect your students. Regardless if you like them or not (some you will like more than others), you must be respectful to them. Basically you want to treat them how you would like to be treated. That means you have to avoid poor language and saying something that you wouldn't want them to say to you. Normally you do not want to tease them or call them names.

You want them to treat you with respect and you want them to treat each other with respect.

Many problems in the classroom also stem from poor lessons. If you are having problems, take a close look at your lesson to see what can be improved on. You may also enjoy reading more on consequences or taking the online TEFL course.