Good classroom management strategies make teaching so much easier! Teaching a foreign language can be challenging, and even more so if the students are learning it for the first time. As a French teacher, you know how important it is to encourage your students to speak the language and follow class rules, but that doesn’t always happen so easily.
I’m lucky to have lots of teacher friends in the Instagram community! I reached out to French teachers on IG and asked them to share classroom management strategies from their classrooms. Are you ready to foster enthusiasm for learning French with maximum engagement and minimal disruption?
Here are five classroom management strategies.
Encourage students to speak in French.
One of the best ways to learn a language is by speaking it out loud. Make sure your classroom is an environment where everyone feels comfortable practicing their French skills. You can do this by allowing students to participate in conversations (even if they don’t always get it right) and providing positive reinforcement whenever they use the language correctly.
Lucy from For French Immersion is “It might sound simple and even obvious, but focus more on complimenting students who make an effort to speak French instead of calling out the ones who don’t. Positive reinforcement is always a better investment of your time and energy because it usually pays off.”
It’s also important to set clear expectations regarding when students should switch from English to French. At a certain point in the less, you can require all students to ask questions or make comments in French.
Be clear about homework expectations.
If you are going to assign homework, it’s important to make sure students know the expectations. In my class, they know they are graded on their mastery of the material, because homework is never more than 10% of the grade. I usually assign homework each week and give the students time to work in class and ask questions.
For years, I picked up homework and graded it. Eventually, I got really sick of finding those papers in the recycling bin at the end of class. I was spending SO much time and students were not even looking! I started setting aside a part of the class each week to check homework for completion. I let students work together to correct it and/or ask me questions.
It’s also important to make sure that all homework assignments are clearly communicated in class. This avoids confusion about what needs to be done and when it needs to be turned in. For the first month of school, I like to set aside a few minutes at the start of class to have students write the assignment in their planners. This sets up the routine that I expect them to follow or the rest of the year.
Set Clear Rules.
It’s important that you set clear rules for your classroom right away so that everyone knows what you expect of them during lessons. This includes rules about things like respecting each other’s opinions, raising hands before speaking, not using phones during class time, and staying on task while completing assignments or participating in discussions. By setting expectations early on, you can help create an atmosphere of respect in your classroom that encourages learning without distractions or disruptions.
Jessica from Crafting a French Blend has a really great anchor chart for helping students remember what work time should look, sound, and feel like. She created the list with her students so they could come up withe the ideas (which is always a great way to get student buy-in!)
Mme Caroline says, “Really really think about your routines. What do you want your students to do during transitions? Keeping calm is key! I have a specific tidy up song. We use it exclusively and the kids learn quickly what to do and they do it automatically. When they’re done, I ask them to put their heads on their desk and wait quietly. When their entire group is ready, then they can be dismissed, receive a recompense, etc.”
Create the environment you want.
Students don’t act the same in every classroom. They pick up a lot from you, your energy, and your expectations. When I’m busy and stressed, my students feel it. When I’m prepared and ready to work, so are they. I like things neat and tidy, so part of the creating the environment for me means
keeping my classroom in order, even if it means taking a few extra minutes each day and/or at lunch.
When you have a really challenging group of kids, it can be so easy to get try to talk over them or to show your frustration. While it is a natural reaction, it’s not going to get you the results you want. Talk quieter, be calmer, and they will, too.
Mme Biljana says, “One favourite is just to set the tone in the space: if you are calm, the students will reflect that back to you. 💛”
Reward Good Behavior.
Reward good behavior with praise or small incentives like stickers or classroom tokens. This will encourage your students to continue following the rules and engaging positively with their peers and material. You may also want to consider holding competitions between classes or within individual classes. These can help motivate everyone involved while also giving them an opportunity to practice their spoken French skills!
I love this idea from @hoylehome : She uses billets to reward participation and being helpful to her or others. Each month, she selects a billet and the student drawn can shop at “le trésor de Mme.” She also selects students for small gift cards to snack places in the neighborhood.
Chantal likes to set group goals with her classes. She says, “Put beads or marbles or rocks or whatever in a jar when you see the positive behaviour your students are working on. Reward with an experience (vote) like a picnic lunch in the gym or watch an episode or extra games or show and tell or whatever, but make it easy for you and free and fun.”
Classroom management is one of the most important aspects of teaching a foreign language like French successfully — but it doesn’t have to be daunting! With these five classroom management strategies, you’ll be able to foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves while still staying focused on learning effectively.