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What’s wrong with my class?

Group Dynamics can make or break a lesson. The author, Jill Hadfield, explains her interest and research into the topic of Group Dynamics.

Welcome to week 2 of ‘Master the art of classroom management’ module.

In Week 1 we looked at the four core principles of classroom management: how teachers can arrange the environment, plan their lessons, manage their teacher language, and monitor and feedback to their students in ways that will provide an effective learning environment.

But what if you do everything right only to find the class just doesn’t run smoothly? Have you ever had a lesson that worked so well with one class, but just didn’t work with the next class? What happened? Most teachers are aware that some groups simply ‘work’ better than others, but why is this?

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I became very interested in this phenomenon by accident when I was working on a proposal for a book on learner training. In the process of doing research for the book, my colleague, Angi Malderez, and I sent out a questionnaire called “Moaning and Groaning in the Foreign Language Staffroom” to foreign language teachers in schools across the UK and Europe, asking them to share what they thought was the problem when a lesson didn’t go well.

To our surprise, instead of the types of complaints we were expecting (e.g., that the students weren’t retaining the vocabulary) we found 90% of the responses expressed concern that their students weren’t bonding and gelling with each other. This led me to do more research on group dynamics and eventually to publish my findings in the book Classroom Dynamics with Oxford Press. I look forward to sharing the insights I’ve gathered with you, so that you can work towards making every group work as well together as possible.

In the next three weeks, we’ll look at what makes a group bad or good and some activities to help groups develop into the latter.


This week we’ll look at the characteristics of groups and ask the following questions:

What is a group?

Why is it important how it operates? (Do group dynamics affect learning?)

What is a ‘bad’ or ‘good’ group?

Can we influence group dynamics in our classroom?

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Mastering Classroom Management in English Language Teaching

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