One skill every teacher must develop to ensure that their effort is productive is classroom management. Classroom management is the process of keeping all students of the class under control (organized, focused, and attentive) to be academically productive.
However, situations in Nigeria seem to reveal that effective classroom management is difficult— if not impossible— today.
But what are the problems hindering the effective management of the class by a teacher?
Challenges of Classroom Management in Nigeria With Solutions
Here are some common problems affecting classroom management in Nigeria and what can be done about them
1. Poor knowledge of the students
One factor that makes classroom management difficult for teachers is not having adequate knowledge about their students. A great teacher should understand individual students’ personalities, abilities, interests, backgrounds, and triggers, and even know their friends.
Once they do, they will be able to give instructions and set up measures that can keep each student organized based on their uniqueness.
For instance, some students are more focused when they are seated around other people who are focused while others are more focused when they are isolated from their friends.
Without understanding their students, teachers will continue to use generalized measures that will leave some demographics at a disadvantage, and then managing the class will be impossible.
Teachers should work hand-in-hand with the school counselor to understand each student’s personality and preferences.
2. Insufficient knowledge of the subject matter
When a teacher attempts to teach a topic they do not fully understand, they are creating a breeding ground for a disorganized class.
Especially in secondary schools, students can tell when the teacher knows only a little about the subject matter. The teacher will be unable to make the instructions simplified since only someone who fully understands a concept can.
This will give rise to questions among students that will further reveal the incongruence of the teacher’s knowledge. The teacher will make contradictory statements, and disorganize the class even more.
The last resort of such a teacher is mostly to scold the students and stop them from asking further questions. But this reduces the respect that they have for the teacher. And without respect, it will be difficult to manage the class.
Teachers should ensure they go the extra mile to understand a topic themselves before approaching the class. The teacher should know beyond the few subtopics they will be covering in each lesson because good students are expected to ask questions.
3. Wrong method of teaching
Every time an inappropriate teaching method is chosen for a topic it naturally results in a disorganized class. The effect of a wrong teaching method is similar to that of insufficient knowledge of the subject matter— it makes the students’ comprehension difficult.
For instance, when a biology teacher uses a demonstration method to explain reproduction to students, however serious the teacher tries to be, the class will be full of laughter and chatter.
Similarly, a chemistry teacher narrating a complex experiment instead of simply performing it for all to see is breeding disorganization.
Teachers when preparing their lesson plans should think through and identify the best teaching method for each topic. They should also identify possible challenges and their solutions after choosing a teaching method.
4. Inappropriate physical environment
When the classroom is not conducive or in a state that opens up the students to distractions, it makes managing the class difficult. This is popular among Nigerian public schools and it is a major problem affecting effective classroom management.
Many classes in government-owned schools do not have desks, chalkboards, or whiteboards and windows. They might even be located close to a busy neighborhood.
Now, because these schools do not have fences, students are distracted by the noise and busyness of the streets. No matter how hard a teacher tries, it will be difficult to keep students focused and organized in such an environment.
A similar situation can occur in a private school with glass walls. Students will continue to look outside the class.
The government must ensure that all classrooms are in conducive conditions, with all the needed equipment to make learning easier. Private schools must also ensure that they don’t create distractions in their attempt of being innovative.
5. Poor communication skills
How well a teacher can hold a class together depends on how well they communicate. And this does not demand that every teacher becomes the greatest public speaker.
Great communication is simply letting the recipient of the message understand your intended idea without ambiguity.
So when teachers do not clearly state what they expect of students in a way they will understand, the students will continue to act out of order.
One wrong approach teachers take in communicating is scolding or using suggestive statements. Instead of saying, “I need all of you to act maturely,” the teacher should itemize what mature act they expect.
Examples: don’t talk without permission from me, don’t stand up from your seat for whatever reason. These are clear communications.
Also, being empathetic is a great way of making students not be repulsive to the teacher’s instruction. The teacher should not come off as a taskmaster coming to ruin everyone’s day.
6. Overwhelming class size
There is only so much that can be under a teacher’s control when the class size is beyond control.
It is not uncommon to see a class with 70 students and even more in public schools. It takes a teacher with a very strong and compelling personality to hold such a class together.
But even when the class is quiet, no teacher can know what the students at the back are doing. Even though they look like they’re part of the class, they could be playing games with their phones and hiding them once the teacher comes close.
This can however be managed in an average class size (maximum 40).
While we cannot discourage the enrollment of more students into schools, the school administrators should create more arms to distribute the students, and employ more teachers to cater for the population.
7. Poor lesson planning
This is another problem affecting effective classroom management that stems from the teacher.
A teacher who doesn’t plan their lesson well or doesn’t follow the lesson plan we face is an expected situation that will lead to a disorganized class. Experienced teachers tend to get away with this though.
It is in the place of planning that the teacher determines the best teaching method to use, the instructional materials needed, the difficulty of the subject matter, and the resources they need.
If all of these are not in place, the teacher will continue to second-guess himself and try to come up with alternatives while the lesson is going on and this disrupts the smooth flow of the lesson.
Every teacher must be intentional about planning their lessons.
They shouldn’t treat lesson plans as demands from the school but as an opportunity to take charge of what happens in the class and to come up with the best instructional process possible.
8. Unmotivated teachers
The class teacher is the most important player in effective classroom management and it demands effort.
No class will be effectively managed if the teacher doesn’t make some sacrifices (of time, energy, and resources) to, for instance, understand their students and spend extra hours planning.
But if the teachers are not motivated to do their work, they won’t go the extra mile to put these structures in place that will make the class organized.
This is the case behind very noisy public schools where the teachers sit in the staff room and do nothing about it.
The government must prioritize teachers’ welfare and make them feel appreciated for their work. They should ensure that teachers’ needs are readily available and in good condition.
9. Unsupportive parents
One strategy of effective classroom management is discipline. The teacher must use the best-suited method to put a sense of restraint on students so they can follow orders.
But parents are usually unsupportive in this area. This is another challenge affecting classroom management in Nigeria.
It is great when parents stand against the brutality and ill-treatment of their children, but it becomes counterproductive when they insist that their children should be allowed to do whatever they please.
Schools are governed by rules and the moment a child is enrolled in a school, their parents should allow them to remain subject to the school rules.
For instance, a parent should not withdraw their son from school because his teacher seized the phone he was using to text in class. That is teaching the child insubordination and discouraging teachers from instilling discipline in students.
The problems that affect effective classroom management in secondary schools include poor knowledge of students and subject matter, unmotivated teachers, unsupportive parents, use of wrong teaching methods, poor communication skills, and poor lesson planning.
The solutions to these problems can only be reached through collective planning and implementation of the plans by all education stakeholders— the government, school administrators, teachers, and parents.
Olusegun Iyejare is a career coach and certified counselor. He helps individuals discover and maximize their potential to live satisfying lives regardless of obvious limitations holding them back.