October 19

Fortnightly Focus #4 – Dealing with energy levels in YLs

To be honest, this is still very much an ongoing focus, as I try to deal with a tricky group of six-year-olds.  But I’ll share some thoughts now and no doubt come back to it again at another point.

Steps I’m taking to resolve some of the issues within the classroom:

  • I had a points system in place, but it was very limited (maximum of three smiley faces).  A colleague suggested flooding the class with points as this would give more space to take away points when needed.  This is having more of an effect, as I can often move closer to the points charts when I can see some learners becoming a little antsy and, in fact, it’s had quite a positive effect on one of the learners who’s very responsive to the new system
  • Spending more time around the table seems to make the lesson start in a better way.  I think previously, when they were in the smaller space at the front of the class, they became a little touchy-feely towards each other, whereas now they have more personal space
  • Turning off the air conditioning unit which unfortunately makes the classroom hotter, which probably in some ways makes the learners more antsy, but it means that I’m not constantly asking them to move away from it – to be honest, I was genuinely concerned that they would get ill sitting directly in front of it, I’m sure a blast of cold air right across your head/neck can’t be healthy.  However, temperatures are dropping slowly here in the south of Spain, though I can see my classroom being one of the warmest year-round
  • Working on making my routines more varied and dynamic – I’m trying to introduce a new song each week so that we have plenty to sing about as songs and chants can be great moments to refocus them.  Also, I know there are certain activities which they do enjoy so I’m trying to include them without relying too much on them (partly because they need more varied input and also they might then get bored of their favourites!)

Tough as the class is, I’m glad that it’s the first lesson of the afternoon as I do have the feeling of “getting it out the way first” and while it is draining to be faced with a difficult group, I’m trying to stay positive about it – there’s nothing worse than having the sinking feeling in October that you’ll be working with a group for the next nine months and it feels like it’s reached the point of no-return already.  So I’ll keep trying new things and getting advice from colleagues on what’s worked for them in the past 🙂

My focus for the next two weeks will be working on listening skills in the classroom as I’m giving a talk on the topic at ACEIA next month and want to try out some of my ideas before the session.

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Posted October 19, 2016 by Teresa Bestwick in category My thoughts

4 thoughts on “Fortnightly Focus #4 – Dealing with energy levels in YLs

  1. Micaela

    Hi T!
    Have you tried starting the class with a ‘settler’ to keep energy levels contained? Each day they could come in and do a quick heads down activity. Maybe that would help them focus and get ready for class.
    You may already use something similar but when they get noisy and rowdy, you could use a signal that they all have to copy when they see you doing it. Mine is one hand over mouth and the other straight up in the air. The kids like it because it’s almost a game to see who can follow my lead first. Only when everyone has their hand over mouth and other hand up can we move on- usually in a whisper. Just an idea. Hope it helps.xxMicaela

    1. Teresa Bestwick (Post author)

      Hi Micaela,
      Thanks for commenting 🙂 As I said, I noticed that starting around the table is much more settling than trying to do something like circle time but it’s a good idea to take that a step further and give them a task to work on straight away. The class the other day went a lot more smoothly – possibly as well as my energy was slightly different that day too…we’ll see what happens next week!
      And you’re right, some sort of visual signal is a good way to re-focus everyone…I’ve tried backwards counting, but I think I need something more definite that can take the time it needs to get everyone back on track. If you get to 1 and half the class are still chatting, there’s nowhere really to go from there!

  2. Sandy Millin

    Hi Teresa,
    We have a points system across all of our YL classes at school which seems to work well. You can give them green points for doing something you want them to, telling them what that will be before they start, e.g. ‘points for good listening’, ‘points for speaking to everyone’, ‘points for working together’, ‘points for quiet work’. Then you can give them red points if they are consistently misbehaving. At our school, three red points is a yellow card, and five is a red card and a phonecall to parents. Most children stop before then, and they rarely get more than one red card in a year. It seems to work as long as teachers are consistent.
    Another idea is having the children in different positions for different stages of the lesson: on chairs, on the floor, standing, around the table etc.
    Good luck!

    1. Teresa Bestwick (Post author)

      Many thanks for your comment, Sandy. I’ve actually been using a system of overwhelming them with points which are on four tiers, so depending on which tier they’re up to they get a star, two smiley face, one smiley face or a frowning face. It’s having a positive effect with a lot of them (though not all!). Varying the seating plan each lesson is working too – although pairs that work together one lesson might be more disruptive in another lesson, but that’s the nature of both YLs and ELT…things are rarely predictable!
      It’s definitely a good idea to vary their movements through the lesson though – something I still need to work on as not all of them enjoy siging and dancing so I need to find a different way to get them up and moving!


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