Where teachers meet and learn

Classroom Management Techniques

Book Review: ETAS Journal Volume 29 No. 3 Summer 2012

Jim Scrivener

Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press (2012)

306 pages, £23.40 paperback

ISBN 978-0-521-74185-9

Classroom Management Techniques, written by acclaimed author and conference presenter Jim Scrivener, is a recent Cambridge University Press publication. Scrivener is currently head of Teacher Development for Bell International and his publications include Learning Teaching (Macmillan ELT, 2005), which won him the ARELS Frank Bell Prize in 1995, Oxford Basics: Teaching Grammar (OUP, 2003)and, more recently, Teaching English Grammar (Macmillan Education, 2010), which won the HRH Duke of Edinburgh English Speaking Union 2010 award as “Best Entry for Teachers”.

His latest book is intended for any teacher of English as a Foreign Language, native or non-native speaker, newly-qualified or experienced, regardless of specialisation. Scrivener uses “classroom management” as a wide umbrella-definition for everything we, as teachers, consciously decide to do or, indeed, not to do, in class, as well as the consequences that arise when we are unaware of these decisions. He investigates a series of potential classroom situations with which a teacher might identify to one degree or another. These situations are divided into seven units, which correspond to different aspects of classroom management, and the seven units are then further subdivided into chapters. Throughout the book, units and chapters are clearly cross-referenced whenever relevant.

This user-friendly layout enables a teacher to dip into the book at any point which seems most relevant to his or her current situation and to find the information and suggestions specific to this. Alternatively, in the absence of overt problems in the classroom, a teacher could select any element of classroom management that he or she wished to explore further and quickly find ideas, activities, and tips to experiment with in order to freshen his or her approach to teaching. The style of writing is easily accessible and pleasantly lacking in dry academic language or jargon, and this, together with the useful layout, makes it as easy to pick the book up for five minutes during a coffee break and troubleshoot a problem as it is to read and reflect on at length.

The aim of Classroom Management Techniques is to offer teachers, both old and new, an arsenal of techniques to experiment within the classroom, in order to maximise their students’ learning. This could be via the discovery of new ways to eliminate issues that actually obstruct learning or simply different routes to increasing the level of challenge experienced by the students in class. In themselves, these techniques and ideas do not represent a methodology but rather could underpin a range of methodologies. It is up to the teacher to apply them to his or her preferred methodology and perhaps, in the process, step outside of this comfort zone through experimentation.

In conclusion, Classroom Management Techniques is a book whose content is easily accessible to all practitioners of English Language Teaching wishing to take their practice to a new level through exploration and experimentation. It offers support to new teachers and the scope for further development to those who are more experienced in this field: a most practical investment for all.

Elizabeth Pinard