Classroom Management for Post-Secondary ELLs (Panel Discussion at the Ohio TESOL Conference 2013)

Gwendolyn Glover DeRosa

The Ohio TESOL Conference 2013 was a tremendous success.  Located at the Hilton Columbus Downtown, the conference brought together educators, activists, students, and professionals.  Ideas were shared and discussed regarding numerous topics including “Teaching the Process of Writing a Research Paper,” “Making Connections by Using Discourse Intonation Effectively”, and “Hands-on Teacher’s Guide to Culture.”

Current and former MA in TESOL candidates from ODU formed a panel to discuss the topic of classroom management.  Lejla Bilal, Amy Faeth, Gretchen Stranges, and I have taught adults at an intensive English language center and we have faced many classroom management issues during our experience. Although the topic of classroom management for P-12 is quite common, there is not much discussion for post-secondary ELLs.  At the Ohio TESOL Conference 2012, Mairi Wilkins presented on the topic of management tips for new instructors at universities and her presentation encouraged us to pursue this subject further.

Each participant shared her research on a particular subtopic and included her personal classroom experiences with tips and ideas for how to address and handle common management issues.  These subtopics included plagiarism, grade negotiating, cell phone use in the classroom, and perceived disrespect toward the teacher.  Each topic was quite involved and required a lot of research and discussion.

The participants showed how classroom management issues can be addressed by understanding cultural and language differences or confusion. Since plagiarism is a foreign concept for many international students, it should be addressed as a learning moment so students can be educated on the concept and practical consequences.  Grade negotiating may be motivated by deep ideals of saving face.  Much verbal disrespect toward the teacher may be misperceived by the teachers.  Observations and research of first language voice inflection and intonation reveal that loud and “accusatory” inquiries may not be a sign of disrespect, but rather first language interference.  Cell phone usage may also be a cultural issue when male students are required to be accessible at all times due to their familial duties.

The audience engaged with the participants during a Q and A session.  Many of the classroom management challenges were felt and experienced by all present.  The participants realized that this topic should be a continuing discussion and that more research and observations should be done.

For more information, you may check out the prezi here.

* I am very grateful to ELS Columbus for allowing us to share our research with them first. Thank you to Lejla Bilal, Amy Faeth, and Gretchen Stranges for giving time to make this panel discussion work.

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