ESL Classroom Management Series:
5 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Strong Students

strong esl student

Our strong students make our lives so much easier in the classroom.

They work hard.

They are polite, usually.

They are interested in whatever we are doing.

They answer all of our questions.

They are role models for our weaker students.

Then there are the weaker students. 

They sit there and don’t do anything. 

They stare into space.

They draw on the tables or bother the people next to them.

They don’t try hard to begin with and give up at the first sign of difficulty.

It’s hard to blame the teacher for catering the class to those stronger students.

They, after all, want to be there.

With the weaker students, it doesn’t seem to matter what we do sometimes.

When we cater the class to the stronger students though, our problems don’t go away.

Those weak students very often begin to misbehave, or stop trying altogether.

We can’t pretend that they are going to somehow get better just by observing how our stronger students behave in the classroom.

Regardless of why these students are the way they are, why some students are strong, and some students are weak, we have to deal with the students we have, not the students we wish we had.

Also, weaker students misbehave more and stop trying when they are frustrated.

They give up more easily when they feel like success is always out of their reach.

They space out when what is going on inside their heads is more interesting than what is going on outside of their heads.

We need to find ways to engage everyone, not just our stronger students.

We need to find ways to keep all of our students involved all of the time. We need to find ways to challenge each student where they are, not where we think they should be. When our weak students are as engaged and challenged as our strong students, there will be fewer classroom management issues to deal with.

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself about the strong students in your classes.

  • ​Do your strong students always win your games?
  • ​Do your strong students always dominate your activities?
  • ​Do your strong students answer most your questions?
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    ​Do you tell your weaker students that they should be more like your stronger students?
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    ​Do you get angry a lot with your weaker students?

If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, give some thought to how you can involve your weaker students more, how you can set them up to succeed.

The more everyone feels like they can not only participate but also succeed, the fewer behavioral issues you will have to deal with.

If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.

Read more about strong and weak students in Pain and Pleasure in the Classroom.

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