CELTA - Arranging groups

Classroom management
Arranging groups
An important part of learning to be a teacher is classroom management. This is another in my series to help you get to grips with this and it's focused on setting up pairs and groups so that your classroom activities go really well, whether you're face to face or online.

Pair work and group work is a critical part of a Communicative Language Teaching approach. If they're going to communicate in meaningful ways, then they need to talk to someone. So as the teacher, you need to think about how you're going to arrange those groups and pairs.

Now, you might think that this is pretty easy, no sweat, Jo. But you might not have thought about some of the issues which can arise. I have three thoughts for you. So listen up, and see if any of these make you think again about how you arrange your pair work or your group work. These will count whether you're online or in a physical classroom.

I'm Jo Gakonga, from ELT training.com, I've been a CELTA tutor and assessor for over 20 years and if you find this interesting, then please like it, and check out my website for more. Okay, three thoughts.

Number one - Grouping with neighbours or randomised breakout rooms

The way of grouping that's easiest practically, is just to ask the learners who were sitting together to work together. Or if you're in an online environment, then just use the randomize groups function for the breakout rooms. The good thing about this is that it's easy. It's very convenient for the teacher in a face to face situation, people are often sitting with people that they feel comfortable with, so they're probably more likely to feel okay about talking to them. In breakout rooms, they'll speak to the same people again and again, so again, hopefully, they'll get used to each other, they'll feel more comfortable with each other.

Bad things about this - boredom, always speaking to the same people can get dull, especially if you get stuck with people who you don't really want to talk to.

Number two - Grouping by level

Number two is grouping by level, or your more able learners and your less able learners. There are two ways that this can be done, you can put a learner of higher ability and lower ability together or you can put learners of similar ability together. Top tip here is to plan these groupings before the lesson or arrange your breakout rooms as your learners arrive in class so that they're already ready for when you have an activity.

If you have mixed level groupings, and this can be helpful, because it can give your lower level learner support. The people who are a bit better at language can help those who don't have such good language. That's also one way of keeping the class in step, doing the same kind of tasks. There's actually research evidence that this can be beneficial to the higher level learner as well. So not just to your lower level learners. There's nothing like having to teach something to someone to make sure that you really know it yourself well.

But if you do this all the time, what's going to happen is that your higher level learners, your higher ability learners are probably going to end up feeling a bit resentful of always having to help somebody else. You might also find that the lower level learners end up feeling a bit insecure or not so comfortable, because they're always with people who are better than they are.

So the other way of grouping by level is to have learners who are not so able, with ones of similar ability, and also maybe differentiate the tasks so they have a slightly easier task. You can also aim to give those lower level groups more support.

Number three - Regrouping

The other thing to think about if you've got groups is to regroup. So you don't always want the same people in the same groups probably. If you're teaching online, then you get to rearrange the breakout rooms and it's fairly easy to organize. If you're teaching face to face, you might want to think about organizing who changed his partners with whom rather than just say, ‘find a new partner’ because that will probably be a bit chaotic.

The easiest way to do this is to number people 1234, 1234. Number ones here. Number twos there. Number threes here. Number fours here. Make it organized. They'll know what to do and it will work very smoothly.

I hope that these thoughts were helpful. If you enjoyed this video, there's lots more on ELT-Training, and I wish you the best of luck with your teaching practice. Thanks for watching. Bye bye
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