Discipline & Finding New Ideas

Okione wrote this up as a comment, but I figured it deserved its own post.Β  Any help, links or advice you could give?Β  (I know we do this all the time on the members’ forum, but I think this is the first time we’ve done it on the blog! )


Hi all,
This comment may be a bit out of place, but I am new to the site and not sure where to post it.

I am head teacher at an international pre-school. We teach in English all day 9-3pm, plus after school classes for different ages and levels. It is basically and american style pre-school/ first grade without the nap times, and a strong focus on phonics and grammar. We also are instilling good behavior and manners. I must say that they are extremley well behaved, and speak English phenomenally well. Way above levels I have seen in other schools.

I have been teaching for almost two years now. I love teaching children more than anything in the world, and I love Japan.

I guess my question is I am sometimes having difficulty coming up with new ideas, especially making grammar fun for my 4th graders after school. I have them 45 minutes every Tuesday. I can see that some of them are getting bored, and the girls are at that age where the think its cool to be obnoxious.

I am only 28 years old, so i can remember when I was in school and I did the same things, but my teachers just kind of did not really try to liven the class up. I am doing my best to do it, especially after a full day with 3-6 year olds. I just dont want to lose them. They are following the material, so I know I am teaching it properly. I just want to make it more fun. I am also kicking myself for not being more strict I guess, because two of the girls talk to me rudely and I am always having to single scold them, which is the part of the job that I hate, but it has to be done.

This brings me to my next question or cry for help. What is a good discipline plan to set up? I know they are kids, and they get anxious and want to have fun, which is ok in my book, but the balance sometimes comes un done. More so with my older kids, or the kids that graduate our pre-school and start Japanese school. They are like different people once they start going to their new schools!

I just need guidance I guess and advice from all of you teachers. I love teaching and want to be the best I can. I want the kids to love learning and rememeber what I helped them learn.

Thanks in advance


Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. When I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. Now I help teachers just like you teach amazing lessons and double your incomes!

8 Responses to “Discipline & Finding New Ideas”

  1. Liza

    I have found after-school lessons/courses to be quite different from the normal school lessons. I’ve had pupils who are delightful in class turn into hyperactive monsters in the afternoons.

    Last week in the final afternoon lesson with a group of 4th years (10 yr olds), the boys wouldn’t be quiet and the girls thought it a great idea to sit around in groups and chat – a few with their backs to me and refused to turn round! In their minds, school had already finished.

    I tried various ways of animating them – games, point systems etc, but they were on a different planet. They just wouldn’t “chill” the way I wanted them to. In the end I got quite tough and split them up(and yes I did shout – once only). After that I wafted their Genki certificates around, along with the chocolates I intended giving them with the certificates, indicating that they wouldn’t get either one or the other if their behaviour didn’t improve.

    Once I got their attention back to me, I tried out some more games, stopping immediately if they got too boisterous. We managed to get through the lesson in this fashion. The certificates and chocolates were obviously very important for them and they didn’t want to miss out! It wasn’t the best lesson I’ve ever taught, and not quite what I’d envisaged for our last lesson together, but I did manage to re-direct their attention to me and get them on board until the final whistle.

    In school lessons I’ve found that Power Teaching
    http://powerteachers.net/ has helped me enormously. Most of the kids now do want to “keep their teacher happy”. However, if the games are blowing their minds, I do resort to worksheets to calm them. I also teach lessons in a whisper, or even mime so their energy levels (and mine!) come right down. This of course varies from group/class to group/class. I’ve also used the Genki passport and stickers quite effectively. I don’t usually use sweets. I’ve also introduced a reward system that if they “keep me very happy”, I will let them do their homework during the last 5-10 mins of the lesson, but this has to be used judiciously and not all teachers approve.

    That’s how far I’ve got to date. For me it’s an on-going learning process too!

  2. richard

    I’d second the Power Teaching comment, and here are a couple of posts I wrote last year:



    The Fred Jones book is always worthwhile getting.

    From then it’s the usual Genki English thing of finding out what the kids want to say and teaching them how to say it. Rather than specificially teaching grammar rules, teach it using English they can use. Find out what sort of things they talk about in everyday life in Japanese and teach them how to say it in English. (Of course the Genki English curriculum is a great start here http://genkienglish.net/curriculum.htm )

    Then teach HOW they want to learn it, get computers in the class – it makes a huge difference. Then youtube clips, real photos of things they are interested etc. and you’ll have their attention.

    If you’ve set up the boundaries with the Fred Jones rules then you’ll, hopefully, have a class of perfect angels! Especially being banned from computers is a huge incentive for kids!

  3. Julian-k

    Learning how to discipline is my biggy at the moment with some of the less than co-operative classes I have this year.

    Fred-Jones book I 100% recommend. I’ve found his ideas about seating arrangement to have worked wonders, as has getting up close to the trouble makers. My next biggest challenge is getting the kids who actively don’t get involved (either because they’re shy or have a bit of an attitude) getting involved. More on that when I succeed on a higher level!

  4. Gumby

    I also recommend the book Teaching with Love and Logic

    It helps students think about their actions and how to take responsibility for them.

    Another book I’ve been reading is
    The Explosive Child by Ross W. Greene.

    One quote that really stands out is
    Children do well if they can.

    Sometimes (though not all the time) students don’t have the skills to do well, whether emotionally or learning-based. If GE has taught me anything is that some students who are usually forgotten in the classroom strive with lots of visual and audio input. Sometimes teaching is finding those things that help students develop the necessary skills for them to do well.

  5. Sara

    I teach several after school kids classes, and there are 2 systems I use which keep the kids relatively under control.

    The first is a passport, where they have their picture, b-day, favorite color, etc on one page, and a 6 by 6 grid of squares on the other. I give out stickers to fill up their grid for 2 things: doing homework (pretty small tasks, but good for writing practice), or for speaking only English for the whole class. I was on the fence about the English-only for a while, but then I jumped in and started, and the kids have been really game, and it helps cut down a ton on extra chatting between students. If I hear anyone speak Spanish, I just write their name on the board, and at the end of the class when I’m giving out the stickers, we check whose names are up there and whose aren’t. When a student fills in all 36 squares, they get to chose a prize from a box filled with small toys from the dollar store. The only thing you have to be careful about are kids ratting out their friends for speaking not-English, I made a rule where the tattler and the friend both go on the board to cut down on constant “Teacher! So-and-so spoke Spanish!”.

    System number 2 is from the Power Teaching post a while back, the Happy Face/Sad Face Points system. If the class does an exercise really great and Genki, they get a happy face. If some students aren’t participating or are acting up, the whole group gets a sad face. If every day of the week the class has had more happy faces than sad faces (this involves a sort of review, asking “Okay, class, was Monday happy or sad? Tuesday?” Etc) on the last day of the week for about 20 minutes the class gets some sort of treat activity. These have included watching cartoons in English, playing board games (Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Clue, Genki One Card), or playing the Genki computer games as a class on the projector. This works well because the students help to correct and encourage each other to do well because they all want the treat. I tend not to introduce this system at first, but wait for the group to either get non-genki, or a little out of control. It’s nice to have an extra trick up your sleeve for when a group starts to go south.

    Hope this helps!

  6. Jacs

    Hi I have a new class that are too enthusiastic.
    I have used the memory/match the pairs game to calm them down. I do not even need to do a Warm up with this group of 9 5-6 year olds! The class is on a Friday afternoon so I would think they’d be tired but no!
    Last week I had to start on the worksheet before the end of class to calm them down but then of course they thought it was the end of the lesson but we still had 10 more minutes!
    I did manage to play the What is missing? game but then of course the lesson rountine was messed up. I do not want to confuse them.

    Are there any other games that can be played to calm them down in the middle of a lesson?
    I am going to look into discipline tactics as sadly they became a bit out of control and noisy last week.
    Never had kids that are too excited and shouting out English to me! They took me quite by surprise!
    I had been trying to use their enthusiam by teaching the Warm Up, Eat Drink Dance themes but these just made them more excited.
    This week we are doing What do you want to do?
    I did think of separating them into groups and playing Snakes and Ladders. They seem to like team games. Any other ideas greatly appeciated.
    I will be using my sad/happy face chart this week too. Thanks.

  7. WinnieW

    @Jacs: Normally I try to play lots of genki games to tire them out and let them use all that extra energy. If that doesn’t work, I try a team game that focuses everyone’s attention to the front of the classroom (ie – one team member vs. the other team’s member), but still involves every single student in the classroom.

    This game works well for me as a review: Action Rock Scissors Paper.

    Instead of going against each other with the usual hand gestures, I do a full body action.

    Rock: Crouch down into a ball.
    Scissors: Swing your arms into a scissors pose, one leg in the front and ther other leg back. (You kinda look like a pair of scissors from the side).
    Paper: Open arms to the side. Body looks like a capital T.

    I set up the blackboard with vertical list of vocab/questions/phonics/etc. In this case, I will teach Phonics.


    If the team wins the Rock-Scissors-Paper, the team must in unison say one word that contains SH. I have markers on either side of the SH to indicate the progress of the teams.

    If the same team wins again, they must say the ‘first level’s’ SH word, in addition to the new ‘second level’s’ SH word. That step is quite important, it helps with getting the kids to chant in unison and helps with drilling. Slowly, the teams must reach the top and final level to win.

    I choose one team member from each team to ‘duke it out’. I clap my hands 3 times, and that signals EVERYONE to the infamous chant: ROCK-SCISSORS-PAPER, where the chosen students ‘duke it out’. If the student wins, the whole class cheers, and everyone must think of the answer together within the time limit (5 – 10 seconds).


  8. WinnieW

    Something else that came to my mind re: classroom discipline. When I start my classes and notice my genki students running around, I settle them down with a short Youtube clip (Okatapodi is great!). However, I stop the video at the climax and explain to the stunned audience, that if they can (as a group) earn 5 good points, I would show the rest of the video at the end of the class.

    During the lesson, let them earn the good points. Keep track of it by drawing a large circle on the corner of the blackboard. If they are good, then give them a point. But if they are unruly, I would threaten and eventually minus a point. As a group, the students would ‘watch’ each other to attain a common goal.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *