TEFL Tips: The Stare!

What’s the best way to control your naughty students? I’ve tried a few things over the years. When I first started teaching teenagers and adolescents I used to lose my rag a lot. I was unsure how to deal with that troublesome age and often found it difficult to control the class. I think that was mainly because I wanted them to like me, to sort of see me as a friend, but it often meant I had no power over them and they would soon take advantage and start playing up.
Don’t stare at me boy!
Photo by Road Fun
That doesn’t happen anymore. It normally takes me a while to get a class into shape, depending on the previous teacher. I’m strict to start with, especially on homework and Spanish in the class. But the one trick that I’ve learnt over the years, as opposed to throwing a pile of books on the floor to scare them (not recommended) is the stare.
You’d be surprised with the power a mean stare can have over individual students, or even the class. I use it a lot and it’s my telepathic way of communicating to the students that they are in the wrong, or are about to get thrown out of class.
Tips for a mean stare:
  • Fix your eyes directly on their eyes.
  • Keep your lips tight.
  • Bite your teeth together.
  • Breathe loudly through your nose.
  • Don’t blink.
  • Wait for them to realise they have done wrong.
  • Once they have stopped or gone quiet, finish with a smile to show you are not a monster, but you are the boss.

I use stares a lot in class at the start of term, but once they know you are in control then they’ll normally behave and you can start being yourself. There’s nothing wrong with scaring a group of students and then gradually easing up on them, but start soft and you’re a goner.

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