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Divide and Conquer

 

Disciplines > Teaching > Classroom management > Divide and Conquer

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

When students are sitting together and causing a problem, separate them. Move the trouble-makers closer to you, where you can keep an eye on them.

The 'divide and conquer' approach may also be particularly effective when you have to tell a student off about something. Keep back just one student at a time at the end of class to talk to them about their work or how they are behaving. Avoid telling off a group of them together.

If you have to talk to several students after class, have them line up outside the classroom (or staff room) and call them in one at a time. Be careful about legality issues when doing this. If there is any chance that you could be accused of abuse, harassment or other wrong-doing, then ensure any disciplinary action is done in an appropriate setting. This will likely vary with the age of the student and the country in which you are teaching.

Example

Jon, move up here please. ... Thank you. Sally, I'd like you to stay behind after class.

Discussion

When you tell off a student in front of others, it can have a useful effect in that they may be embarrassed and so choose to improve to avoid this secondary punishment. They may also decide that you are being rather mean in doing this and so hold a grudge against you.

Students being disciplined may decide to fight back, in which case the rest of the class is now their audience. Some students revel in such battles and are adept at them. Telling a student off in a private setting avoids this risk.

A very sad fact of modern life is that the action of some teachers in abusing students and in some students in falsely accusing teachers has led to risks that may make being alone with a student, even one of the same gender as you, potentially hazardous. 

See also

Fragmentation principle

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