“Managing Classroom Dynamics” by Martyn Clarke – the title and presenter of the Oxford OUP ELT events webinar online live on Wednesday 16 November 2016 at around 10am GMT.
A reflection of the webinar…
The webinar began with the simple question of “What are Classroom Dynamics?” although as Teachers we know and understand the simplicity of answering the question we also understand how not simple those dynamics are! Martyn’s clear and concise quoted definition “Classroom dynamics are the ways the members of a class interact with each other, how they show their emotions and feelings, and how they behave as a group.” As there was a rush in the Chat box while many Teachers present at the webinar (reaching over 200 participants!) to write down a word or two about how we view our own class dynamics. Especially in the ELT classroom, with Teens or Adults – there are times when the ‘speaking’ activity can become a focus on creating that ‘dynamic’ feeling where all participants – including the Teacher – become a central body of communication.
In my own personal experience Classroom Dynamics are not always palpable in fact sometimes the atmosphere is tainted by prior situations. It’s not easy for any Teacher to walk into a new school with new students and expect perfect dynamics. I have been teaching in the EFL classroom for over 15 years and still sometimes find difficult situations especially with Language Projects. However there are some important rules I lay out for myself … firstly getting to know the students names, secondly using technology in the classroom – like getting them to use their smartphones. Thirdly understanding (or trying to perceive) the basic communication that already exists – what I mean is – are there sectioned off groups, individuals sitting on their own – whether these students are open to communication. The root of any classroom dynamics is communication. When the EFL classroom consists of ‘speaking’ the L2 language then all sorts of factors appear – the main is always embarassment at speaking another language. There are many activities we Teachers can use to overcome these communication barriers.
Martyn said that “dynamics is just that – dynamic” a situation that occurs spontaneously, so as Teachers our role is sometimes to create an environment where the classroom dynamics can occur ‘naturally’. Sometimes it can lead the class lesson plan astray and that’s when the role of the Teacher is to stear them back on course. Other times can we just forego the lesson plan and allow them to be open and communicate freely? Well that depends, but sometimes when that learning environment becomes a flurry of excitement and chatter with smiles, laughter (why not) and general good communication then yes I definitely would forget the lesson plan. Obviously there are times when that cannot happen – in the case of exam preparation classes or similar.
The most important thing to associate with Classroom Dynamics is that it is the essence of creating ‘group’ made up of its members within a classroom. A group with a similar goal in mind, bringing together in the learning environment sharing the ups and downs, collaborating and assisting one another. The Teacher needs to be a part of that ‘group’ mind, but at the same time be it’s inevitable leader keeping the group on its learning track. The Teacher facilitating the learning for the group as a whole and as individuals.
Following are some screen shots taken during the Webinar.