Class control

An Interesting Teaching Anecdote

Lekh Nath Sharma Pathak

This happened when I was teaching at Buddha Bhanu Saraswati College in Shillong, India, a college initiated and established by Nepali Community there. I was teaching a class of over 200 students in what was then called Pre-University level. When I finished taking attendance and was about to start the topic, the class was booming with murmur. 200 students whispering and murmuring produces noise sufficient to make teaching impossible. So, I thought of a way to get the class quiet so that they would listen to me and I could start the class. I knew that if I simply announced, “Now, class, keep quiet so that I can start teaching,” it would not work. I had to do something more effective. For a while, I paced back and forth on the ‘stage’ – a raised platform for the teachers so that the students could see the teacher. The whole class was watching me doing this. Then, I suddenly turned to the students and yelled like a military commander, “Stop!” with the index finger pointed up in the air. And the next thing I said, quietly, was, “Just look at the tip of this finger” and the whole class went silent and really looked at the tip of the index finger. They found this quite amusing and some of them were about to smile and say something, but I intervened: “Now don’t speak anything and listen.” And the class quickly came under control and the rest of the hour went on smoothly, with the students talking when they were expected to do so.

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