Discipline: How to get a class full of perfect students!

How would you like a class full of little angels who are all your perfect students?

A lot of the time we talk about actual practical techniques here, but this is something different.

This is how I get great students, for everything, it’s a really simple technique, but it really works.

What do you think?

Be sure to put your comments below.  (Also be sure to put what you have to become in the comments too!)

Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. And 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. So I'm sharing it all with you now...

45 Responses to “Discipline: How to get a class full of perfect students!”

  1. Margit

    Great post. Thanks.
    I think you are so right with all those points, and watching different classes, different teachers this year, it’s true that most teachers like different types of students. And I think there is no right or wrong wether they want loud students or quiet ones, obedient or not, as long as the teachers can be responsible for it and guide them to a higher goal.

    Being team teaching it is also very very interesting to see how the students little by little but latest in the second term are completely in the mood the teacher is.
    If he/she’s genki, they are, if not, they aren’T. If he is talking a lot, they are if not they are quiet.

    Now, may I ask one question right away?
    What can I do here as a second teacher? I feel it is a bit more difficult when it is not straight me >>>students . I have only one class out of 15 actually where I do have this problem:

    They are NOT GENKI. And I think the problem is, that their class teacher is NOT GENKI.
    Do you have a magic wand for this as well?

  2. richard

    Hi Margit,

    Taking the big picture view, this is a little like wanting to teach the kids how to speak whilst also doing rote learning for tests. The kids end up being pulled in two different directions, not knowing what is expected of them so never make progress in either direction.

    The solution is to get rid of one of the pulls.

    If the other teacher isn’t getting results, the easiest way is to get them to become a student whilst you lead the class!

  3. PiratePotatoe (student from Youtube)

    Teacher:

    – Strict on Exams/Tests

    – Laid back when testing/asking about new (current lesson) material

    – Talking as himself/herself when explaining material/answering questions (no robotic, emotionless dictionary speech)

  4. Badzeep (student from Youtube)

    My ideal teacher? Someone who would chase my butt, give me buttloads of homework so I’d learn things, gives me feedback and isn’t afraid to give me constructive criticism.

    I’m an art student, and my two teachers don’t give feedback whatsoever, which makes me less motivated. And that results in me slacking off. :/

  5. AquaMarYne92 (student from Youtube)

    ideal teacher?… i guess it depends on the subject.. but basically a teacher i can LEARN from and while they are educationally superior to me (for now) they should treat people as people and equals. uh and something I pulled from someone’s comment and really agree with… NO MONOTONE PLEASE.

  6. ihatenormalppl (student from Youtube)

    My ideal teacher would be open-minded and very motivating(with distractions like YouTube it’s hard to self motivate!) and they would teach me in different ways 🙂

  7. NebulaSteam (from Youtube)

    In college, if you’re not motivated to learn, it’s not the professor’s fault for not making it exciting, it’s your own fault. The professor’s just there to go over the material that you should’ve already read and answer any questions you have. There not there to get you excited for Japanese or whatever. They don’t care at all. If you want to learn, then the student should’ve just opened up the book and started reading and learning ahead.

  8. HyperAndHappy (student from Youtube)

    My band teacher lets all the students throw chairs and percussion equipment around. They play horribly, yet she keeps telling them that they are “improving from where they started.” She wants to be friends with them, so they have no respect for her as a symbol of authority. In an hour time period we only play for 20 min, since they take for ever to get to class. I try to be the best that I can, to listen, and learn.Its hard, because when the rest of the class behaves like children.

  9. AMVShippu (student from Youtube)

    I have been described as the “ideal student” by all teacher, I’m silent,ask question,do every single homework,contribute, yet, our business teacher is so ,very bad.

    She is hard to understand,her writing is horriffic, and she goes from point 1 to point 8 then back to 3 throughout the syllabus , I had an “A” in Business studies last year ,now I feel so disencouraged.

    (Last year there was another teacher)

    And I am sure she is NOT having a hard time, then all students are relatively well bahaved.

    D:

  10. Margit

    @Richard,
    thanks for that; I think I have an idea of what to do.

    @ all the other comments;
    this is very very interesting. I hope there will be more comments from students about their ideal teachers.
    Very surprising as well.

    So ~my perfect students; let me talk about public school here.

    My perfect class is one that has a huge mixture of kids. Kids that challenge me to motivate them while others need me to calm them down, some who need to get over their shyness and others who need to be told to hold back for a minute.
    Why?
    In a class like this it is very obvious in the end, wether I did a good job or not.
    The classes never get boring.

    I want students who are passionate and honest in whatever way: If I know what they like or dislike without having to spend time on figuring this out it safes me a hell of time and makes me prepare better classes.
    So : Straight reactions!

    OK, now how do I get those? Remembering actually the one class I wrote about above who hardly showed any reactions at all when watching the scary Trick or treat song.
    All the other classes I showed this were screaming! And would want to watch it again and again.
    So this might be what I have to work on to get them GENKI; straight reactions! Wow, but if they don’t react to “Spider Spagetti” or “ice-cream eyes”???????!

    Thanks for this interesting blog, Richard, lots to think about

  11. Tanya Watanabe

    I want students who are cheerful and can think for themselves. Students who will make the connection of what has been taught and what they already know. “I can JUMP. Okay, I can WALK too.” I try to show examples but only one or two students use their heads.

    I want students who are not afraid to make mistakes.

    I want students who can stay focused on one subject matter for 20 or 30 minutes (talking about elementary students).

    For myself, I need to be a teacher who motivates the children, who keeps the hour filled with different things, songs, worksheets, and competitions against a timer. Right now I may need work in the motivating department. I sure try to be silly and GENKI enough but I’m getting a lot of rolled eyes.

  12. akatsukigirl02 (student from Youtube)

    My Japanese teacher is very smart, but she puts us down all the time for not catching on quickly enough. My ideal teacher would be one who is patient and spends just a little more time on the material, and makes it fun like interactive games and stuff, but doesn’t make us feel stupid when we get something wrong. I wouldn’t mind working my butt off if that was the case! But right now it’s just really hard to get motivated 🙁

  13. Olivia

    Hi!!

    Good afternoon!! Everyone…

    In my experience I think that the class everytime is the teacher I mean; If the teacher have a good attitude this emotion it is to transmit of the students in other case if the teacher It´s a lazy teacher the students can be the same personality it´s the reason that always need to be in a good mood for to have succesful in the english language.

    Everytime give your best…

    Regards,

    Oli

  14. Gumby

    Richard, thanks for this challenge. OK here goes:

    My ideal students:
    *love learning and realize that true learning cannot be measured by numbers.
    *are not afraid to try
    *learn to set their own goals and can break them down into small steps that they strive for one at a time.

    How to be a teacher to these students:
    *demonstrate that all questions do not have answers
    *reward the effort
    *accept who they are but always challenge them to aim higher
    *allow them to make decisions and be there to help them learn from their mistakes, and not adamantly prevent mistakes from happening.
    *motivate them to learn more by feeling successful
    *introduce them to other “worlds” and ways of thinking

  15. Lola

    My ideal teacher is that person that shows me other ways of seeing or discovering things and that who is involved in the task by living the experience by him/herself. Thankyou Richard for keeping us thinking about our work.

  16. Ashlee

    Thanks Richard for the great ideas. Your tips are not only pratical for teaching English, but for in life as well. Thanks.

  17. Jaybenj

    Hey thanks Richard, great info
    As we teachers all know from experience, if the kids are having fun they will learn. If the kids are listening and participation they will also gain knowledge.
    How the heck though do I deal with a mix of students who range from highly creative with a great desire to absorb any information, to kids with severe learning and behavioral disabilities? The balance is about 60/40 and I feel that I am failing all of the kids. Our school offers no assistance in the classroom and after 20 years plus of teaching I am at a loss to know how to teach and more importantly have any control over my class. HELP please x

  18. victor birkner

    The ideal teacher is the one that every time he/she finishes a class deeply reflects about his/her performance and tries to work out why things went that way either good or bad. After the reflection he/she makes the necessary changes to improve future classes. Besides that, the ideal teacher should be creative and flexilble in terms of changing whatever is being done if it is not working, In other words, being capable of reading the students’ minds.

  19. Charlie

    My ideal students would:
    *listen whilst I am talking and be able to sit still for 5 minutes
    *respond and not be afraid to answer when I ask questions
    *have loads of fun whilst learning

    BUT, I teach mixed groups from 2 and a half year olds to 6 year olds. How do I be strict with very loud 6 year old boys who need to sit still and listen when I want them to, although all they want to do is run around playing the action games, WITHOUT scaring the 2 and a half year olds and stop them from wanting to come???

    I completely understand the importance of needing to know how I want my students to behave, but it seems that the second step is very dependent on the individual students. One to one it would be easy to adapt my behaviour to encourage the desired behaviour, but how does that work with lots of different types of children in the class?

  20. Dillon Frost

    Hi, Dillon here from Poland!
    This is a nice idea but sometimes people don’t know what they REALLY want so here is a different way of doing it. It comes from the book ‘I could do anything, if only I knew what it was’ by Barbara Sher.

    Write down on a sheet of paper the things that you don’t want in a student or class – the things that you hate the most. Then, next to each comment write the opposit!

    It is easier to think of things that we don’t want than to thing of thing we do want! So this should help people with that problem, and now everyone can do it!!

    Happy teaching 🙂

    Dillon

  21. Morrys

    Hi Richar

    Just let you Know your great thanks for everything,

    on this subject here in Colombia sometimes is difficult to have a good mood all the time for St and Techers, but
    with your Ideas there is always hope.
    Thanks a lot for share your magic.

  22. Adam

    This is a hard one for me. I would like Genki students, but I don’t know what kind of teachers Genki students would like. When I was little, I was the quiet, well-behaved type. I never really liked school, but I was liked by my teachers because I was well-behaved.

  23. Dawn Davis

    My ideal students would be excited about learning; quiet when it is time to be quiet (test taking, book work) and loud when it is time to be loud (games and songs). I would really like them to listen to me when I am speaking (giving directions). I want them to ask questions. I want them to participate in class activities. I want them to be respectful to me and each other.

    I try very hard to respect and listen to my students. I spend hours every day working on lessons that mix reading, writing, games, and drills and try to address the myriad of levels in one class. Sadly, once in class, instead of teaching, I spend my entire time trying to get them to sit down, stop screaming and stop hitting each other. I never get to use any of my carefully planned activities.

    I will try making a list of exact qualities and see if being more specific helps. Thanks for the advice.

  24. Helen

    Hi Richard! I’m greatful to you for your brillian work. You inspire us for excellent work. Thanks a lot from Ukraine!

  25. karoul talaba

    I want my class of four year olds to love learning english and go away singing and practising because it is fun and it gives them a sense of accomplishment and esttem. I want them to look forward to English classes. They already love the pirate cd and the gingerbread man and sing in the streets in this tiny Mexican fishing vllage.

    I want my class of twelve year olds to feel confident enough to put on a musical. i want to write a food court mall , short musical ie: Im hungry where is my food? This is put on while people are eating and unaware that there are people at their table who will stand up and start singing.

  26. lucy

    The best teachers for me. are the teachers that all days are in the students shoes, the teachers that try to understand the ss, feelings. Because there are some teachers that teach only because they have to, not because they like to do it,

  27. Pilo

    I’m a student-teacher, so I can say my opinion for both, lemme try:
    – Ideal teacher: Would be very active and gentle, giving lots of oportunities for students to actually participate in class, and not only listen.
    – Ideal student: Would be very keen on participating even if they make mistakes. They’ll have to be inquisitive but also respectful.

    Now, how do I atract that kind of student/teacher? Well, I believe I might just found my answer while I was writing this comment.

    Thanks Richard-san!

  28. Liza

    Ah! So this is The Secret … LOA .. (Lots Of Appreciation)! ;-))

  29. Milena Dimitrova

    Hello, Genki Richard,

    I am from Bulgaria. I started teaching about 3 months ago. My students are 5-6 yrs old, and grown-ups, about 30-50.

    I find your genki sysytem absolutely interesting, up-to-date, and even necessary for todays students, especially younger children. Thank you for that!

    Now, about the disciplined class – I totally agree with you. It is the same as with your relationship with whoever you think. Attitude, love, and deep thinking is the key to having a successful life and job career.

    Keep inspiring us!

  30. Claudine

    I’m from USA living in Mexico. I want students who listen. Also I like for them to be ones who can make decisions and think for themselves. Most of all, I just want them to listen. I don’t mind if they don’t understand or need me to repeat things until they understand but I mind so much if they talk while i try to explain anything.

  31. ana santiago

    Hi! I cannot talk about ideal students because my students live in a very difficult area. I have been in my school since 27 years. I love my students and want the best for them. My team work is from first to third graders. We always want the best for them. We are working a lot with their characters in order to have better citizens. I want them to be interested in school and I always have motivational activities such like the “Participation In class Card”. That is an index card where they write their names on the front of it with a beautiful drawing. On the back. for each correct answer, homework done, excellent daily conduct, friendship in team work, and others I marked a dot on it with a marker. The student that more dots have will obtained an award on the next school event. They like this activity a lot and talk about how many dots they have. This activity has allowed me to improve the conduct of the majority of my students. The teacher who I am is the teacher that my students need. I have to be weekly looking for activities, worksheets, games, etc to have them working on the expectations of the grade and to have them happy. They enjoyed a lot the warm up I learn from you. They like a lot the “Rock, Paper, and Scissors” activity. Sometimes when I am at lunchtime and when I pass through the yard they are playing it. We are Puerto Rican people in a public school with very difficult conduct students, but they are playing-speaking in English. That’s good for them and for me!!!

  32. Russ

    For me it’s all about keeping the students interested. Genki English has hit gold with the TPR warm-up, instantly engages the students and very useful. If things get rowdy I go straight back into that and it gets their attention again.

    Apart from that I’ve got to the point where I think it’s better to just make a game out of everything. And I kind of move the lesson in little cycles, game-study-speaking practise-game. I also throw a chant or song in there sometimes and the time flies.

  33. lama

    Hello,
    I Teach engllisg as a second english in France, and I can tell you that it’s not easy for french ppl to listen to a foreigne language. So I try your warm up methode when ever I see the student bored from the educational system (that I should respect in my school) and I tried the lines quiz last time and they really like it.
    I am very open with my student, I communicate with them. Last time they told me they like music, so I found an article about (black eyed peas) in a magazine and I did a lesson about it, they really lilke it.
    I think we should listen to what they like and try to find something that can motivate them all the time.
    that’s what about my marriage too 😛
    “COMMUNICATION” is very important. Listen to what they like , so they can listen to you… 🙂
    Hope that I was clear enough…Thank you all.

  34. Zeph

    Charlie,
    I totally understand where you are coming from. I have a large group of almost forty kids aged 2 and a half to 6. Sometimes its just crazy. When most of the group finally settles down I have 3 older boys who apparently have a champions breakfast in the morning and are FULL on energy :D. In the beginning it was just crazy especially since the other teachers were all new and had had no experience with young kids. We had to develop quick working strategies. I noticed that one hyperactive child sang the number song all the time. I incorporated that into the morning circle warm up. I asked him if he’d like to come up front to sing it. He was happy to and the others joined in so he wasn’t alone. Of course he was smiling cheek to cheek after all the applause (I get the kids to exagerate and say bravo! Very good! Excellent! And give them high fives). Now it’s become part of our routine the morning karaoke: I ask who wants to sing what song and the kids come up front. They LOVE it. Of course for a big group that is not practical so the kids who go one day have to sit it out another day. I sometimes ask who wants to join the child up front, usually some friends want to so you have a group of 4 or 5 singing Genki songs. Good for the end of year show too 😀 Also, check out other topics under discipline on the site http://genkienglish.net/teaching/discipline-the-agreement/comment-page-1#comment-31437 for example. Discipline is not a linear thing. You have to keep adapting all the time. I have really quiet kids who suddenly go crazy or start being very talkative and more energetic while there are very energetic ones who suddenly calm down. The hard thing is to give each child some of yourself and to let each one know how great he/she is. With bigger kids talking one to one works well. With very young kids 2 to 4/5 or even 6 a lot of it is about affection….give hugs. I learnt that the hard way 6 years ago when I first started 😀

  35. Zeph

    My ideal teacher?: one who can be serious and fun because being serious doesn’t mean boring and being fun doesn’t mean being a constant goof. I hold my kids hands and dance to the “I like to move it, move it” song scratch my back on a post like a cat when we play animal games and wear shorts and get hosed down by them when we take out the pools in hot weather. Its just as appreciable when they understand that you are still the adult and the teacher and that when you say good time to wrap up then thats it and there’s no question mark.
    My ideal teacher adapts to the students and is flexible. You spent 3 hours planning a special fun lesson and nobody’s interested…they want to do the same thing we did yesterday? Consolidate? Ok. Why not? They’ll learn much more having fun doing that than doing something they’re not interested in.
    My ideal teacher treats students as his equal regardless of their age. He understands that every age has specific needs and he can respond to those needs while treating each child with respect and compassion as each child should treat him and his classmates. The teacher sets the example.

    My ideal student?: They LOVE learning because that’s my job, opening doors and windows to worlds out there. That’s a drag if no one wants to travel and have an adventure!
    My ideal students are not quiet nor loud all the time. They understand that there are times to be quiet and focus and there are times to go loco and thats fine.

    Ideal teacher and students: they all are HAPPY to go to class and are happy to see each other knowing that they are going to be doing something great whatever it might be.

  36. Melissa

    Hi there! Well, I’m a teacher and I’m also a student. So, my ideal teacher is that one who is both enthusiastic and strict. And the perfect student for me is that one who is always paying attention, willing to help and learn, respectful and enthusiastic too. Thanks for the advice!

  37. nadia

    Hi Rich!You are rich of ideas and Energy!I need martial arts,Too!I think My problem is the self-control,I get nervous when students don’t respect rules.🆘

  38. Avi

    You are a fantastic inspiration. Thank you.
    I’smd like my classes to be active, attentive, ready for fun, participating and curious.

  39. Tasha

    Hi there everyone:
    My ideal students, when refering to teenagers, are those who are eager to learn, those who love the language are cant`t get enough of it….
    And when it comes to little ones, they all have potential to be ideal,all you have to do is be enthusiastic enough to get them involved, motivated
    and looking forward to comming to the next lesson.

  40. haneen tahA

    My ideal student is to communicate and activate with my own teaching’s style. To respect other students.listen what other student say.share the knowledge with the teacher and the rest of the students.help each other to solve their proplems. Richard but thereis aa serious proplem..how I can implement these rules to be ideol students

  41. sara

    Hi.
    I really like genki english .when ever I use ur ninja tricks in my class room my kids really enjoy .
    They like I’m a superhero
    And what is the weather like n nice to meet u and many more
    They started taking interest in class because of ur help
    Lots of prayers for u n ur work 

  42. deborah ortiz

    Love the video I’m a teacher and had never really thought about the relationship between teacher and student in that way. Now I have my gears rolling and lot of ideas I plan on trying out. thank you very much.

  43. Carla Chazottes

    I’ve been teaching English for nearly 15 years by now and I still love it. I started with a few private students and then I’ve been teaching in primary schools and I loved it. I’m open minded and enthousiastic. I love to see my students motivated and playing games while learning. This is the same for my adult students, they often lack confidence and they are quite happy to see that they can express themselves without being judged. That they can speak and make mistakes.
    Today I teach students from 4 to 70 years old and I love each single class. Of course I have hard days and moments, but I always try to find a solution to go forward and to work it out. Often I change a bit my way of teaching do more games, or do less and do a bit more of writing (in France young learners love to write some English words in their copybooks, it makes them proud). In the beginning this wasn’t my idea of teaching, but well it works so I’m happy and the class as well.
    Just to end, I’m using Genki English for nearly 10 years and I still love it. It’s a great way to teach and to learn. Children love it but I still didn’t dear to try it with my adult groups but maybe I should, would love to have some tips for this.

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