Photo: iStock/ Recep-bg

5 positive classroom discipline tips for teaching in Japan

By Alexandra Ziminski

Considering a teaching job in Japan or are having some problems in the classroom? It can be hard to keep a cool head when you have a student who just won’t behave.

You may be thinking, “Positive discipline? There’s no such thing.” But believe us, it is a tried and tested way of managing rowdy students, and can make your classroom life a lot smoother.

Starting with Alfred Adler in the 1920s and popularized by Jane Nelson in the 80s, positive discipline guides children in making the correct choices through connection, patience and mutual respect. Of course, this is easier said than done. Especially when your students don’t speak the same language and subscribe to cultural rules that you know nothing about.

Here are some tips on handling bad behavior in a positive, kind way. 

1. Set out ground rules

Once more unto the breach. Photo: iStock/ Paylessimages

Routine is vital for children. According to Melbourne Child Psychology services, it allows for clear boundaries and makes children feel safe within their environment.  

By outlining your boundaries at the beginning of a lesson (and school year), children can be well informed, prepared and less likely to misbehave. To be fully understood, explain some of this in Japanese (by yourself or through a Japanese staff member). If that fails, employ visual aids: videos, photos or crude drawings on the whiteboard. But make sure to be clear; they must understand your classroom rules. 

For example, set a rule that students must raise their hands to ask questions. If they don’t do this, then you won’t answer them. Or make a rule early that if the teacher’s hand is raised, the class needs to settle down. 

Remember, children need patience. Moreover, you are teaching in a whole different language. It might take time to set the rules in stone. 

2. Positive reinforcement 

Click here to read more.

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Oh so simple. Now try doing that in a language they have absolutely no clue what you are saying. You could be speaking Swahili and giving all that wonderful praise, and it means nothing.because they don't understand what a single word. Taking the scissors away might seem appropriate if they understand the language your speaking, but if they dont understand, then it may seem unfair to the child. They may understand a NO. But you cannot explain any rational for it about it being dangerous because they dont know the English words for dangerous. You would have to explain in their native language because it is about safety, but then again, your Japanese boss will start screaming at you because,OMG you spoke JAPANESE.

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you cannot explain any rational for it about it being dangerous because they dont know the English words for dangerous.

As the article suggests, use body language. Put the scissors against your own skin, then act out that you've cut yourself, show that it's dangerous.

A lot of what the article says resonates with anyone who has ever trained a dog using positive reinforcement. Dogs don't understand what you're saying (at first, anyway), but with a clicker, a smile and a bag of treats you can literally train a dog to jump through hoops.

Kids aren't like dogs, I hear people say. How dare you compare children with animals!

But when it comes to communicating across languages, actions do speak louder than words. And hopefully the kids will soon understand the teacher's words, too.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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