The Classroom as a Challenging Site: Creating an Ambience Conducive to Learning

FROM THE TEACHER’S PODIUM 

The teacher within the classroom is faced with the perpetual task of dealing with children of diverse kinds often with attention deficiency, restlessness and even disruptive traits. Amidst these constraints is it possible to create an ambience conducive to the ethos of learning? Let us explore this pedagogic challenge and its possible solutions.


Dr. Seema Gupta has been in the field of education for past ten years. She is Head Of the Department of English at Doon Presidency Schoo, Dehradun


 
From tiny tot to a kid , and from kid to a student, a child undergoes a series of transformations. Learners move on , continuously growing, adapting themselves to the existing environmental conditions. During these formative years of their lives ,they experience various changes mentally, physically and emotionally. But some traits remain unchanged and constitute their personality. These characteristics are well noticed by their teachers and parents. In a class of twenty students or so a teacher finds a mixed group of children who are calm, quiet, extrovert ,introvert , active ,hyperactive or mischievous. Thus a classroom is composed of different types of children . Handling all of them together is solely a teacher’s responsibility and a task that he/she must undertake in order to produce an environment that is conducive to the holistic development of the child. Teaching as a vocation demands total dedication , absolute devotion and passion . High quality teaching is possible only when a teacher generates a conducive environment of learning in the classroom.  It  is created by adopting a student- centered approach to teaching and prior lesson planning.  It is through this article that I wish to discuss how the teacher can effectively handle and manage a diverse classroom and create an ambience where quality teaching can take place most conveniently. The following is  a discussion on how we can cater to the need of individual children while maintaining high interest levels within the classroom. However first we must understand how the various kinds of students present within the classroom can be involved in the activities/teaching being undertaken and what their specific learning needs require the teacher to do to help them out. In a class we find various types of problematic students such as:
 Attention seekers
 Inattentive children
 Mischievous children
 Hyperactive children
Attention seekers are those children who continuously try to attract the teacher’s attention either by putting forward many question or by teasing fellow students. These students want to be heard , in order to achieve this they disturb the smooth functioning of the class. How to manage these children becomes a very important agenda for the teacher. To be able to manage such behavior a teacher must question such children in between the lesson so as to keep them attentive and focused. He / she must ask students to raise their hands whenever they wish to answer the question. This is how they will get a chance to contribute in the class, to speak what is there in their minds and yet not prove disturbing for other children within the classroom. The second category of children are the inattentive ones. This group is very efficient in diverting the attention of others. They indulge in activities that distract others too.

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                                                                      Order emerges out of chaos
However to bring them on the right track they should be assigned some challenging tasks to be accomplished within a given time. Besides this the rotation of seats on a regular basis helps minimize their unruly behavior and helps them inculcate a sense of adjustment and discipline which in turn are catalysts to cultivating interest within the classroom . The third category is that of mischievous children and these are those children who are inclined to annoy the teacher as well as other students with playful tricks or some other nonsensical behavior. They are very active and smart and always ready with the excuses for their unrestrained behavior. Keeping a watchful eye on each of these children and involving them in group activities goes a long way in calming down these children and helping them find a productive outlet in the classroom. The final type of problematic children within the classroom are the hyperactive ones. This group of children is full of energy. They are full of physical vitality and energy, this needs to be channelized well to bring forth their inner potential. To understand these children, a teacher must have tremendous patience and must come forward with effective activities that channelize their energy and yet help them focus on the learning that takes place through the lesson. This will be an effective mechanism to strike the right balance between physical vitality and sharp concentration necessary for learning to take place. Now the bigger question before a teacher is how to differentiate between a mischievous child and a hyperactive child. Children who show signs of hyperactivity disorder are unable to sit still.

They are always : 1. fidgety 2. Inattentive 3. Do not complete their work 4. Talk excessively 5.
Interrupt others

Of course all children exhibit such symptoms at times but the difference between mischievous and hyperactive child is that in hyperactive child these symptoms are present for a longer period of time and this hampers their social and academic behavior. These children demand special attention and they need to be addressed differently. Treating such misbehaving children requires a lot of patience. Our concern should be focused on the appropriate way to deal with these unruly children. The conventional methods of punishment are no longer fruitful. We should think of some innovative ideas of punishment too. The child should never be humiliated in front of the whole class. Expelling the child from the class is also no solution for this unruly behavior. It will be detrimental to his/ her personal growth. Sound teaching is possible only when children follow the general code of conduct in the classroom. However, generally It is observed that in spite of all these efforts a teacher faces many problems while delivering her lesson. There are many children in a class who find it difficult to concentrate on the topic being discussed. They silently indulge in activities which hinder quality teaching.

innovative instructor Now the question arises , how to handle these mischievous children. Generally , it is observed that when faced with such a situation , a teacher gets infuriated and scolds the child very badly . The child is either sent to the principal or punished and suspended from further studies. This is not a constructive measure to remedy the behavior of the child. The effective teaching involves acquiring relevant knowledge about students and using that knowledge in classroom teaching. This can be obtained by regular parents cooperation through parents teacher association. Most of the times it is observed that various conditions of life at home and school also influence child‘s behaviour. There are a few students , who succeed despite their poor family lives, but most students need parental support and guidance in their day to day activity. And if these things are denied to them ,the consequences are hazardous not only to the child but also for the parents as well as the society at large. These children either become slow learners or hyper active. Handling such children is the biggest challenge today. Their energy has to be channelized in the right direction. To bring them to a satisfying level of behavior they need to be orchestrated with other students of the class. Establishing what they want would help determine the appropriate remedy for the benefit of such children. The most suitable idea that can be incorporated with mainstream teaching is to provide them with a specific environment away from the classroom activity where they can introspect .

Similarly, the traditional approach to deal with mischievous children is either verbal or non-verbal. Verbal approach includes asking questions repeatedly , warnings over disagreeable conduct, describing rules and classrooms norms etc. non –verbal includes gestures , facial expressions and stern look that convey a silent message to the students who play mischief. Generally teachers give strict warning or ‘angry look’ to warn a mischievous child. But if these verbal and non-verbal approach leave no effect on child’s attitude then the teacher can enforce some sort of non- physical punishment like detention from some important activity , exclusion from group activity, giving some extra homework etc. Another important strategy to tackle such misconduct is to assign them some responsibility and giving reminders daily to fulfil the task . This will enable them to remain focused. Enforcing severe punishment and reprimanding the child will push him to follow some unfair ways to hide his insult. So, keeping all these aspects in mind it becomes necessary that these unruly children should be dealt with judiciously . The present day scenario is entirely different from the past. Now a days the teacher is not a hard- task- master rather he is a friend to a child. Thus instead of ridiculing , he should be given a conducive atmosphere where his disruptive activities can be mitigated. There is no better solution other than these special rooms. As I see it today , promulgation of such inventive measures of punishment will bring complete overhauling of the child’s behavior. The practice of meditation would prove a great help in disseminating positive energy affecting their mind, body and soul. Thus providing a welcoming atmosphere to their disruptive behavior would be a very positive step forward. This would also ensure that the school truly caters the needs of the individual child. It is hoped that this innovative approach would work wonders for the benefit of the students.

This article is published in The New Leam, JUNE 2017 Issue( Vol .3  No.25) and available in print version. To buy contact us or write at  thenewleam@gmail.com

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