// I assure you, that if you take time to read this article, your discipline problem will be reduced to the minimum. Jesús G.


You are new at a school. You have a group of 26 students in the class. Your first day is a chaos: the students won’t stop talking, they shout and make noise, it seems that they cannot even stay in their seat for one minute… “This is just the first day ” you think “It’s just the excitement of the moment “… But days go by and everything carry on just as the first day…

Let’s face it. You have a discipline problem. Don’t worry. I dare to say that 90 % of teachers have these kind of problems (they may have attention-seeker students, unmotivated children).

We have a problem, let us therefore get to work.




“Good teachers don’t deal with problems, they prevent them to happen” Geoff Petty

Discipline is a frightening aspect that many teachers are afraid of. Teachers need discipline in their class to be able to teach. Unfortunately, there is no a magic solution for it.

Discipline is surrounded by many aspects that may contribute to get it:


It is absolutely important to establish the rules the very first day. You may ask your students to help you define these rules. Be very firm when applying them and allow no exceptions. Thus, your students will see where you draw the lines.

If they start talking and you allow them to finish a whole sentence, they will understand that this breaking of rules is worth it. But it you stop their talking at the first words, they will see no advantage in breaking the rules!

They should know the rules and also the punishment for breaking them in advanced.

“Classroom rules are made for maximizing learning. Do not feel sad when applying them firmly. Remember that you need a good working atmosphere. You are doing this for their sake!”

A technique that I use: I have to set of cards. Yellow cards and green cards. When a student breaks a rule, I react with a PEP approach (explained forward) immediately and I give him/her a yellow card, telling him/her what rule he/she broke. This counts as a warning, if they break another rule, there will be a punishment. This way they feel that it is their responsibility not to break another rule again. The green cards are for those students whose behavior is good in class. Recent research shows that praising to good behavior is far better that telling off students with bad behavior.


Plan your classes!! Take a lesson plan, and take some time to prepare enjoyable lessons for your students. You should prepare varied tasks that are related to the students’ interests. Bear in mind that the objectives must be attainable, if the students don’t experience success they will not feel motivated to keep learning.

“The world evolves, let’s evolve with it”


Rapport is concerned with relationship teacher-student. A good rapport is of vital importance if the aim is to get discipline in the class. Patience is a word that you must carry when you enter a classroom. First, you must establish your formal authority, make the students see who is in charge, being strict but fair. You should look confident and in control all the time, if the students see doubts or hesitations, you will have no authority over them. Then, with time and effort, this formal authority will shift into a more personal relationship based in a mutual respect (your students will respect you for being an effective teacher and you will respect your students and their attempts to learn.)

To know more about formal and personal authority read Teaching Today (Geoff Petty)

“Praise and praise your students constantly, recent studies show that praising is far more effective than telling them off”

A technique that I use with 6-7 year olds:  I use  a poster in which everyday at the end of the class each student will stick a smiley face or an angry face according to their behavior that day. This may seem very simple, but it is contribution has no price. The little ones love to show that they have a good behavior and they also love to get a medal for their good work. Why don’t you try this out and tell me how it worked in your class.

I will try to add a photo of the posters I use shortly.


I can’t understand why when I am explaining something, my students will never listen to me!! This is a very common complain among many teachers. A question should arise in their minds: Why are they going to listen to me for?

To listen to the teacher, they must be motivated to do so. To motivate your students you have to care truly for their learning, for that:  Prepare activities related to their world, get them involved in the class and make your lessons active and funny!

“Make your lessons active and funny. Don’t you remember your boredom when you were in school and you spent hours and hours just listening to your teacher’s explanations? Please, be different!!”


When there is a breach of these rules, teachers should use an assertive reaction using the “pep” approach:

Proximity. Get close to the students who is breaking the rules. Your authority will grow doing this.

Eye contact. Look at the student in the eyes. Apparently, they feel embarrassed for breaking the rules if you do so.

Pose questions. Don’t tell them off. Ask him/her a questions. Why are you talking?

The response to the breaches of the rules must be rapid.

See Teaching Today (Geoff Petty) 2004


“This is group is out of control. That girl over there, she is a chatter box, I never saw her quiet. If they start talking, order them to write down a sentence 100 times, that will calm them down” This is what a teacher told me when I had to take care for her group for a couple of days…

Several questions came to my mind: Ask them to write down a sentence 100 times…what for? My purpose is to maximize the learning. If they are talking all the time…maybe it’s the teacher the one who is doing something wrong. Are they involved in the classes? Are these active? Are the lessons prepared in advanced so everybody has something to do all the time?

Very true, As I entered the class, they started talking like if they were in the park. Alright, I thought, let’s direct their talking through legitimate means.

First of all, let’s get them involved in establishing the classroom rules (they were in the middle of the school year, but they hadn’t discussed them yet!). They came with very coherent rules, and with suggestions for punishment for breaking the rules.

Let’s deal with silence in this class!

For getting silence, body language is absolutely essential. You need silence to explain (try your explanations to be short and concise; they are the ones who are supposed to speak not you!). Ask for silence and wait for it, appear to be in control even thought you feel nervous inside, you should look confident. Wait in silence, and look at them in the eyes, little by little, they will stop talking as they will feel embarrassed. Start again once everyone is in silence. Make them see they are losing something important if they talk when they cannot do it.

Getting silence is a right of the teacher; Teachers must ask for silence, and then wait for it, however long it takes.

“Many teachers believe that a quiet classroom is a good one, but it is not true in a foreign language class, the students’ talking time should be maximize as much as possible, they need to have opportunities to use the language they are learning!!”


Be different. Try not to teach like you were taught. The world changes so does education.

You must continuously surprise your students. Change the classroom layout of your class before they enter, this way, when they enter the class, they will be surprised by this change, and you will have already caught their eyes.

With the little ones, take a “Magic Box” to the class, set all the tables forming a circle and place the box in the middle. As soon as they enter the class, they will like to know what’s inside the box.

Set four corner in the classroom, one for each skill, and explain them that they will be working in groups, and that each group will be working on a different skill depending on the corner they are!

According to Ken Robinson “Schools are killing creativity” We, as teachers need to be creative if we want our students to be creative.




8 Responses

  1. I found this really helpful! Thanks! I’ll put into practice, I hope very soon, when I start in my new school, hopefully this very week! Although I teach in Secondary, I also think we must make classes funny so they are motivated.
    I don’t know if you know Ken Robinson, but he is also really good when it comes to teaching.

  2. Another question. Could I connect my iPad with a wire in the school’s projector? I start tomorrow! And I suppose there will be a projector at the school and wifi connection! thanks!

    • There shouldn’t be any problem with the appropriate wire! Tell us about your discipline techniques experiences from tomorrow! Thanks

      • I am going to buy the cards tomorrow, because the first day was a bit of chaos. Since I work with teens, I believe it is also important to reach agreements with them. So, the second day we discussed a bit together the behaviour’s rules and it was much better! Anyway, the cards will also help, I am sure!

      • Sure, creating the class rules together is the best way to do it, this way you involve them in their own learning 😀 But, important: be firm when applying the rules or you’ll lose your authority. Confidence is a crucial aspect when teaching

  3. All American students care about is fun… Fun is so embedded in this culture, that they won’t work because it’s not fun… In life we don’t always do fun things and they need to understand that they have to learn things that are not always enjoyable. It’s very hard to create fun moments all the time and what is fun for somebody may not be fun for others. For many of my high school students, fun is violence, sex and drugs. If I did my French lessons on those items, they would get excited and pay attention… if not… French is “boring”…. When are teachers in this country going to stop being entertainers and actually start teaching? I agree lessons should be meaningful and relevant to the students’ needs, but you can’t achieve much by just having fun, playing games and making sure students “have fun” so learning is not “too stressful” for them…. By the way, I’ve only seen stressed out teacher… not too many stressed out students…. Most students are overconfident, don’t care about school and think they are entitled to good grades, even when they don’t put effort in the class.

    • That reminds me that quotation that said something like:
      “Try not to have a good time…this is supposed to be educational.”
      ― Charles M. Schulz

      I can see your point, but I think that fun, in this case, does not mean laughing and talking about sex (I’m sure yous students have much more interests than that), fun is something else, it more related to creating relavant lessons, creating something that is really interesting and useful for them.
      Quite easy to criticize students (Surely many of them are to blame) but we, as teachers, have to evaluate ourselves and out methodology, that is the only way to improve.
      I do not have any intention of achieving anything just by having fun. Creating enjoyable lessons is just one more step, not the whole walk.
      Thank you for your comment!!
      Hope to hear from you soon!

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