15 Helpful Classroom Management Tips for an International School in China

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Classroom management is a term used to describe the strategies and techniques used by teachers to create and maintain a learning environment in which students are able to learn. It includes things like creating rules and procedures, establishing routines, correcting student behavior, and managing classroom materials.

globe sitting on a table with pencils and books

This can look different depending on location, teacher style, and even school culture. But in an international school setting in China, there are some commonalities that can be helpful to keep in mind when it comes to managing your classroom.

International schools are becoming more and more common as the world becomes increasingly connected. With students from all over the globe represented in one classroom, it can be tricky to keep order and create a learning environment that is respectful and conducive to learning for all.

But with a few tips, it is possible to manage a classroom in an international school setting effectively.

15 Classroom Management Tips in the International School Setting

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1. Create a Classroom Management Plan with Your Students

When it comes to classroom management in the international school setting, one of the most important things is to involve your students in the process. Ask them what they think are the most important rules and procedures, and what routines would work best for them.

This will help ensure that they feel like they are a part of the classroom community and have a sense of ownership over the space. It will also help them to buy into the rules and procedures, and be more likely to follow them.

Make sure you have several points to cover with them such as rules for talking, going to the bathroom, what happens when work doesn’t get done, what quiet time looks like, and how will students behave when the teacher is working with another student or group, and more!

2. Have a Plan for Disruptions in the Classroom, Including Classroom Safety

It is inevitable that disruptions will occur in the classroom from time to time. Whether it’s a student who is misbehaving, someone getting sick, or a fire drill, it’s important to have a plan in place for how to handle these disruptions.

You will have disruptive students so make sure to have a plan in place for how to deal with the situation especially if it’s in the middle of a lesson. Maybe you have a special desk for students to go to until you can talk to them one-on-one, or you have a special sign for students who are talking out of turn… the possibilities are endless.

You always want to keep students safe. If there are any drills for fire, natural disasters, or even political unrest, make sure everyone knows where to go and what to do. If you have a student misbehaving or acting out of control, you want to make sure this student doesn’t hurt others or themselves in the process.

3. Set Up Routines and Procedures at the Beginning

Another tip to manage your international classroom is to set up routines and procedures at the beginning of the school year. This will help students know what to expect and how to behave in the classroom.

Routines for classroom flow and efficiency can include things like when students are allowed to speak, how they are expected to behave when the teacher is working with another student or group, what to do when they finish their work, and more.

You’ll also want to have procedures for things like how to line up for lunch, what to do when they need to go to the bathroom, and how to act when another adult or teacher enters your classroom.

4. Use Positive Reinforcement

When it comes to managing your international classroom, it’s important to use positive reinforcement as much as possible. This means rewarding students when they are behaving well or meeting your expectations.

There are many different ways to do this, but some ideas include providing verbal praise, giving them a sticker or stamp, letting them choose where they sit for the day, or earning a treasure from the chest.

classroom management in the international classroom setting in China

5. Model Correct Behavior

To get students to behave well is to model the correct behavior yourself. You may want to have a session with your international classroom at the beginning of the school year to model behavior.

Some examples of this include raising their hands when they have a question, the proper way of sitting at their desk or on the floor, how to line up correctly, and the right way to walk in the hallways.

This will help show students what is expected of them and make it more likely that they will follow your lead. Additionally, make sure you point out when students are behaving well so they know that you noticed and appreciate their good behavior.

You might also want to do a quick show of what improper behavior looks like. Students will get a kick out of you acting crazy and that can become a reference point when you have students acting the same way later down the road.

Having this visual will also help students who are not native English speakers. They will be able to see how you’re acting even though they may not understand English yet.

6. Be Consistent With Your Rules and Rewards

It’s important to be as consistent as possible when it comes to rules and rewards, especially regarding behavior. If you have a rule that students need to behave in a level 1 voice when the teacher is working with another student, make sure you enforce it every time.

When you let it slide sometimes, students will start to think that the rule doesn’t matter or become unclear about your consistency and it will become more difficult to get them to follow it.

On the other hand, you’ll want to be consistent with your rewards too. If you tell students they will get a sticker or stamp for good behavior, make sure you praise them and follow through every time. This will help them see that their good behavior is actually being noticed and appreciated.

7. Be Strategic with Your Seating Chart

Another tip to manage behavior in your international classroom is to be strategic with your seating chart. Place students in seats that will best support their learning and behavior.

For example, you might want to place students who are known to be talkers across the room from each other so they aren’t distracting when they are supposed to be listening to you.

If you have one student who isn’t fluent in English, you may want to seat them next to someone who speaks their first language but has a good grasp of the English language.

use technology wisely in the international classroom

8. Use a Visual Schedule

A visual schedule can be a great tool to help with classroom management. This is especially true for younger students, students with special needs, and students who do not speak English.

A visual schedule can help students see what the day’s activities are and in what order they will happen. This can help eliminate confusion and make it easier for students to follow along.

9. Be Ready for Your Teaching Day

To help yourself manage your international classroom, be prepared for your teaching day. You’ll want to have all of your materials ready and organized, know what you’re going to teach, and have a plan for how you will manage any disruptions or problems that may come up.

You can prepare for your teaching day by setting aside time either before or after school to plan. Usually, you’ll have your lesson plans ready for the week, but you may want to make copies each day or write out prompts on the board for when students show up.

Set yourself up for an easy win in the morning when students walk in the doors.

Read Next: Top 21 Tips on How to Handle Stress While Teaching Abroad

10. Use Technology Wisely

Technology can be a great tool for managing your classroom if used wisely. For example, you can use a classroom website or blog to post assignments, due dates, and other important information.

You can also use a learning management system to give students access to online resources and materials. Additionally, you can use technology to create digital schedules as part of your lesson plan through videos, presentations, and demonstrations.

When using technology in the classroom, it’s important to set clear guidelines and expectations for students. You’ll also want to make sure that you are using technology in a way that enhances learning and doesn’t simply replace traditional paper-and-pencil methods.

how to manage a classroom in China

11. Be Mindful of Cultural Differences

In an international classroom setting, you will have students with different cultural backgrounds and it’s important to be aware of these differences among your students.

This means taking into account things like how students from different cultures will have different learning styles, how they might interact with each other, and how they might understand or respond to your instructions.

It’s also important to be respectful of these differences, so you’ll want to find a good balance. For example, Asian students tend to be more respectful of teachers, and in turn, may not draw attention to themselves so you’ll want to make sure they aren’t overlooked.

For even more guidance on how to be aware of cultural differences in your students, check out Edutopia’s tips here!

12. Facilitate an Inclusive Learning Environment

In an international classroom, you may have more than cultural differences, too, such as learning disorders or gifted and talented students so you want to make sure that each student’s individual needs are taken into account. This means creating a learning environment that is tailored to each student’s interests and abilities.

To do this, you can provide a variety of different learning materials so students can choose what works best for them. For example, students who excel in reading may have different books for reading groups than students who are still learning important reading skills.

You’ll also want to have a variety of activities for students such as learning through technology, learning through different games, independent work, and group collaborations.

13. Encourage Students to be Respectful and Understanding of One Another

One of the best ways to create a positive learning environment in your international classroom is to encourage students to be respectful and understanding of one another.

You’ll want students to treat each other with kindness and respect, no matter what their background or culture might be, especially if their countries already don’t get along.

You can do this by modeling respectful behavior yourself and by praising students when they are being respectful to their classmates. Additionally, you can have discussions about respect and tolerance when things come up in class or in the news involving different cultures.

celebrate student learning

14. Celebrate Student Learning

Celebrate student learning, which means providing opportunities for students to share their successes with classmates, parents, and even the whole school. This is a way to let students know that you see and support all the hard work students are doing in the classroom and their learning has a real-life impact.

You can celebrate student learning in a variety of ways, such as through class presentations, performances, a walk through all the classrooms, an exhibit, and so much more. Think science fair and displays outside your classroom.

15. Build Relationships With Your Students

Finally, another helpful tip to better manage your international classroom is to greet your students in the morning when they arrive. This lets them know that you are there for them and that you are ready to start the day.

You can greet students in a variety of ways by saying hello, shaking their hands, or giving them a high five. If parents are dropping off their kids, this is a chance for you to build rapport with the parents too. You might also want to ask them how their day is going or if they have any questions about the material you will be covering.

Throughout your time with your students, get to know them on a deeper level as well. You can learn about your students by talking to them during class, asking them questions about their interests and hobbies, and getting to know their families.

By following these tips, you can create a productive and positive learning environment in your international school classroom.

Read next: 11 Common Interview Questions For Teaching English in China (And How to Answer Them)

be aware of cultural differences in the international classroom

5 More Important tips About the Classroom management in International School Settings

1. Ask About How Administration or Leadership Disciplines Students

When you are interviewing for a teaching position in an international school, be sure to ask about how the administration disciplines students. This will give you a better idea of what to expect if and when a student misbehaves in your classroom.

It is also important to know what the consequences are for breaking school rules. For example, is a student who is caught cheating on a test automatically expelled? What happens when you have a student who has violent tendencies? How is discipline communicated to parents?

2. Ask About the Support System International Teachers Receive

When interviewing for a teaching position in an international school, you’ll also want to ask about the support system teachers will have. This will give you a better idea of what to expect if and when you need help.

You’ll want to see who you can go to for advice, what type of professional development opportunities are available, and if there are opportunities for self-care.

3. Research the Culture and Customs of the Country Where the School is Located

If you are going to be teaching in an international school, it’s important to research the culture and customs of the country where the school is located. This will help you to understand the students you’ll be teaching and to avoid any cultural misunderstandings.

If you are able to ask in advance, you might want to get a list of the nationalities represented by the student population in that international school, too.

classroom management in the international classroom

4. Be Prepared for a Diverse Group of Students

When teaching in an international school, you can expect to have students from all over the world. This can be both a good thing and a challenge.

On the one hand, it’s great to have the opportunity to learn about different cultures and customs. On the other hand, you’ll need to be prepared to deal with a wide range of personalities and learning styles.

5. Develop a Curriculum Appropriate for the Students You’ll be Teaching

When developing your curriculum, be sure to take into account the students you’ll be teaching. Tailor your lessons to the age group you’ll be teaching and to the level of English they will be at.

If you are teaching students who are native English speakers, you’ll be able to get away with using more complex language and concepts.

However, if you are teaching students who are learning English as a second language, you’ll need to use simpler language and concepts. You might even want to consider having several visual or hands-on aids.

Read Next: Can You Teach English Abroad Without Knowing The Language?

Helpful books about classroom management in the International School Setting

There are a few helpful books about classroom management that can be useful for teachers in international schools. One such book is The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide by Julia G. Johnson. This book offers advice on everything from creating a positive learning environment to dealing with discipline issues.

Another helpful book is Teach Like a Champion as it covers strategies for the whole school year and not just the beginning. The information in this book is really practical and can be immediately implemented in your classroom.

One final book that is helpful is Setting Limits in the Classroom by Robert J. Mackenzie. This book provides different scenarios and the best way to respond to them. It truly empowers teachers to take rein of classroom management.

prepare to manage your classroom in the international setting

Final thoughts about Classroom Management in an International School Setting in China

Classroom management in an international school setting can be tricky, but with a little preparation and understanding of the students you’ll be teaching, it is possible to create a successful learning environment.

I hope the tips I’ve shared have been helpful for you. I’d love to hear which tips work out for you and other tips you’ve picked up along the way!


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My Favorite Travel Tips + Resources

Here is a quick glance at all my go-to travel tips and resources that I use to plan every trip! For more information, check out my travel resources page.

  • Booking flights: I use Google Flights to check all routes and find the best flights. Then I compare them with Expedia (for reward points) and Skyscanner (for the lowest prices) before I book.
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  • Travel Credit Card: I book all my travel (flights, hotels, car rentals) through my favorite travel credit card. I also use this card for everything on my trip including dining, excursions, and souvenirs. Apart from earning 5x more points towards free travel, there are amazing benefits: no foreign transaction fees, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement (so I can book worry-free), fraud protection, emergency assistance – it’s really a great deal! Check it out here!
  • Vaccines and Medications: Check the CDC website for updates on necessary vaccines to enter a country, including updates on Covid-19 and recommended places to visit. I recommend getting all the vaccines you need before you go!
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  • What to Pack: I almost always travel by backpack. For products I like, check out my packing guide page for all the things I take with me on different trips.