Video summary

In order to have an organised class and effective reading sessions which run smoothly, it is essential to implement management strategies before, during and after group paired and individual reading sessions.

What are some of the problems which could offset effective classroom management?

  • Noise levels: Indicating lost focus, work not being completed, disturbing other learners
  • Students sharing: Could cause conflict, noise, not used to sharing and taking turns
  • Students needing help: Learners constantly disturb the teacher for help
  • Students finish work early: Become restless, disrupt teacher and other learners who are still busy
  • Other disruptions such as teachers or learners from other classes entering during the lesson
  • Confusion about what tasks and activities need to be completed; this could result in chaos.

It is important to address certain management problems by asking questions about them to come up with a solution. Such as When do noise levels rise? What is an appropriate level of noise and is this the same for group, paired and individual reading? What should learners do when they need help during reading sessions? What are the expectations when it comes to sharing materials? What should learners do when they finish their work quickly? What can be done when learners misbehave to save teaching time?

The teacher needs to set clear expectations for reading lesson lessons. These expectations must outline desirable behaviours and how learners are expected to act during these lessons. Class rules must be established, they should be positive, clear and observable, such as ‘work quietly‘,’“focus on your activity’, ‘respect each other’, ‘always listen’. and so on. The teacher should also develop and implement expectations through specific routines for during group, paired and individual reading sessions. Such as how she or he expects learners to move on from different tasks, how to unpack and tidy up materials and put away books, what they need to bring to the small group readings and so on.

After outlining the expectations, explain to learners about the consequences for misbehaving. It is important to make sure that the consequences are simple and are well established and all learners understand them. Remember to enforce rules consistently but not to the extent that it takes away from valuable reading or learning time. It is a good idea to have a method which addresses the undesirable behaviour but doesn’t take long; rather pull the learner or learner’s aside, or address the entire class if need be after the lesson to enforce the consequence. 

Many teachers implement a rewards system during their reading sessions. A rewards system is used to model expectations and reinforce desirable behaviour. Teachers should remember to praise both effort and behaviour during lessons. If a learner who is usually overly talkative during a lesson works quietly, praise him or her, make sure that the praise is sincere to encourage continuous desirable behaviour. Examples of rewards include giving them extra reading time, playing special games or giving them game time, providing stickers, stamps, letters to parents that praise their child, you can have student or group of the day or week.

Some ideas of how to deal with noise levels

  • Traffic lights system – when the arrow is green, learners are allowed to talk, orange means that they can whisper and only talk if they need to, and red if there is no talking allowed. During individual reading, the traffic light would most likely be red while during paired reading it would be on green, and for group reading may be orange or red, depending on the activities the rest of the class is doing while the teacher has a small group.
  • 30cm voice rule – learners voices must only be loud enough for someone sitting 30cm away from them to hear. There could also be different voices for different activities. For example, whispering or quiet voices during group reading, talking voices during paired and no voices during individual reading.

It is important to acknowledge that learners often may need help during lessons, but having learners constantly calling out to the teacher or getting up from their seats and interrupting the teacher during a group reading lesson can be extremely disruptive. Demonstrate to learners what they can do if they need the teacher’s attention, they could ask a friend first before asking the teacher. Also, think of non-disruptive ways learners can get the teachers attention without sidetracking the entire lesson or class. One idea could be to have a question mark card on their desk and when they need the teachers to help during an activity they can turn it over with the question mark face up. That way the teacher can help the learners who need help without disrupting the entire class. Ensure that there is a range of activities or tasks available for learners who finish early to prevent boredom and disruption. This could be extra worksheets, drawing, individual reading, puzzles and so on.

 To effectively manage individual reading in the classroom, make sure that you schedule a specific time during the day. This will not only ensure that all learners are provided with a meaningful opportunity to read but shows learners the importance of taking time to read. There should be specific rules during individual reading (as previously mentioned) and there should be no talking – with the exception of young learners who need to sound out words to spell them, they can do this quietly. Every teacher can have their own specific rules for individual reading time in their classroom. The teacher should model reading for learners by also reading during this period, this displays book handling skills and fosters an appreciation and respect for literature in learners when they see adults reading. It’s extremely important to have sufficient reading materials as learners enjoy making their own choices and reading books of interest. Learners will get bored and restless with repetitive texts.

For paired reading, it is important to have a specific routine and rules to ensure everything runs smoothly. Ensure that your instructions are clear and specific so that learners are not confused about what they need to do. Every paired reading lesson could be different, therefore it is important to instruct clearly to avoid confusion. The teacher needs to monitor behaviour, keep learners on task and make observations by rotating around the class continuously.

To manage group reading effectively one of the most significant elements is having a specific routine and set of rules that learners know and understand how to implement. Firstly, before the lesson begins thoroughly explain a new rule or the desired behaviour. For example, during group reading, learners are not to come to you and disrupt the group you are working with. Explain this to them and then explain why they are not to do this. In this example, learners constantly getting out of their seats and interrupting the small group reading is not only disruptive and limits your special time to have instructed reading with those few learners, but is also disrespectful. You can model this rule by having posters that remind learners to stay in their seats and to be respectful of everyone with pictures of learners working at their desks. Explain to learners that when you say that it is time for group reading it means you only want one group at a time. Say the name of the reading group, for example, the lions to join you on the mat – the learners must know that this means that the rest of the class must now sit at their desks, work quietly and do not interrupt the groups. If a learner needs the bathroom or help, they must wait for a group to finish and then raise his or her hand for the teacher to acknowledge. 

During the group reading lesson, it is important to monitor behaviour to ensure learners have understood the instructions and are staying on task. Remember to praise appropriate behaviour, this could be saying “Well done Grade 3’s for working so quietly and well- I’m so impressed!” Correct inappropriate behaviour, if a learner interrupts your group, tell him or her to go back to their desk and raise their hand when you are finished with that group and then you will listen to what they want to say or ask.

At the end of the small group reading sessions, remind learners of expectations during that period and reflect on the behaviour during that lesson. Ask learners what they thought their behaviour was like during the lesson –  a thumbs up or thumbs down. Then give them feedback and state what you liked or didn’t like. “Too many learners were getting out of their seats/calling the teacher” and so on. Reward learners or a group who were particularly diligent, and finally reinforce by repeating the above steps until the learners have adopted the rule and perform it naturally without reminders.