Classroom Management – Sevim

Love, Respect, Dignity and Inclusiveness – Sevim Açıkgöz

Sevim Açıkgöz
I’m at the very beginning of my teaching career and am enjoying every minute of teaching. It is a great feeling to be in the classroom with learners. I’m sure most of you think like this and share the same feelings about teaching and being in the classroom. But of course there are both good sides and risky sides to be careful about in the classroom. For me, one of the most important factors of teaching is classroom management. I believe that efficient classroom management is the key to succesful teaching.

There are a lot of definitions of classroom management and ways to manage a class. As a teacher, I believe that every teacher should be a life long learner and I’m trying to be one myself, too. I read a lot about classroom management, attend conferences and learn from others and exchange ideas. I took a classroom management lesson at college and I got an A from it. Oh, so I’m ready to manage my class, right? Wrong. Sometimes things can go wrong and or let’s say not the way we want. I have been teaching English at a university and I see every day and every student as an opportunity to learn and reflect.  I have some opinions, suggestions and experiences on classroom management that I’d like to share. If you are ready,let me take you on a journey where perhaps you can find something familiar


Love and Respect

‘’No matter how unmotivated a learner is, if a learner loves you as a teacher and respects you, then she does her best to be successful in the class just because she loves you. ‘’ 

This is what our lecturer told us when we were in college. I have never forgotten his words and have tried to make the most out of them. If a learner really likes her teacher and respects her, then she really tries hard and tries to please her teacher. This is also what I did when I was a student at college. I was having bad times and I did not attend the classes. I had class presentations that were waiting for me, yet I did not study at all. I had already decided not to attend the classes and give a presentation. Then, one day I got an e-mail from my lecturer. She was telling me that she understood me,  that she was with me and that she wanted me to give it a try.. That e-mail is still with me. There was something in that e-mail : Love and respect. Encouragement and faith. I started working immediately. I read articles,took notes and made my slides and I went to school. My teacher did not say anything. She wasn’t surprised at all. She wanted me give the presentation and finish the lesson. I was happy. I went on attending all the classes again. Life was normal for me again.

I also experience the same things in my classes as well. I love every student of mine, and I respect them a lot. I make them feel that I see them as individuals and that there is no power struggle between me and them. We work together to make the most out of the lessons and I’m someone who gives them help. They know that they are responsible for their journey. I believe that if you love your students and respect them, they will love you and respect you. I believe these are the keys for good classroom management.


Students’ Needs And Interests

One of the most important things is to know students well and plan your lessons according to students’ needs and interest.  I know that every school has a curriculum and weekly flow that teachers need to follow but what we need to do is to know our learners’needs and interests and make some changes in the classroom.  If learners enjoy what they are doing, they get involved in the learning process and learning can take place. I strongly believe that if a teacher knows her students’interests and needs, internal motivation takes place for learners and managing the classroom turns into a positive classroom management process.


Learning Environment

In my opinion, the learning environment greatly affects the student learning process.

I do not mean just physical environment of the classroom. I also mean the relationship between the teacher and students, the relationship between students and also expectations from the teacher and students as well. As you might know, the Discipline With Dignity model is one of the most practiced behaviour management strategies in the world. In Discipline with Dignity, there is always  room for developing responsibility, cooperation and mutual respect. Learners know that they are one of the most important elements in the classroom, their thoughts are taken seriously, and they work with their teachers together to make the learning process take place. In the classroom there is a negotiation and also learners know that the learning environment where they are now is a safe one. Make sure that your learners really want to learn and they know why they are in the classroom. Make them feel that they are in a safe environment while learning. They need to feel relaxed and safe. If they don’t, learning may not take place.


In summary, I can tell you that if you love your students, they will love you. If you respect them, they will do the same for you. If you see them as individuals and pay attention to their thoughts and ideas, then they will understand that you respect their ideas and that they themselves are important for you. If you decide on something related to classroom issue together with your learners, share your knowledge and let them share their knowledge,too!

Our learners themselves provide us with great opportunities to learn and reflect on our own teaching. Every student and every classroom is a new opportunity for us. No matter how great your lesson plan is, how good the materials you have are, or how perfect your curriculum is, if you canot manage the class, then none of that matters much.  Always try to use positive reinforcement in the class. Punishment is sometimes seen as an efficient classroom management but in the long run it is not. Try to find the internal motivation in students. Know your students. Be ready to help them and give them the feeling that you are ready to learn from them, too! Make them feel that you manage the class together.  As Benjamin Franklin says,  “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”


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Professional Goals for 2013 – Sevim

SevimAçıkgöz3Where I’m Going in 2013

Human beings love making resolutions, especially at the beginning of the new year, but how many of those resolutions are focused on professional development?  If you’re like me, your New Year’s resolutions are probably focused on your personal life, but take a moment as I have done to think about where you want to be in your professional development at the end of 2013. Here’s where I’m headed.

Learn, Share, Change.  These words are at the top of my list for 2013.  As a teacher, I feel  have a  responsibility to share what I have and exchange ideas and maybe change together and change the world in a better way and maybe as Stephen Krashen says, we can make the world a better place immediately? As we are teachers, I believe that we have that power, to change the world with small but strong touches on people’s lives. Because of all these reasons, my number one is learn,share and change. I will never stop learning from others, learning and sharing what I learned with others and do little changes in education world.

Expand The Community  Recently, a teacher friend of mine asked,  ‘’Why are we sharing our knowledge with teachers who are already in our communiity? It is like a circle. We must reach out to others who are not already in our community and give them motivation and courage, too.  That’s collaboration. Otherwise we’re just passing things around the same circle all the time.”  She’s right. There are lots of great educators from all over the world who need our support. We need to reach out to them. Why not today? Why not you ?  All you need to do is to believe in yourself and take some action. By doing so, we can make our community bigger and bigger day by day and truly collaborate.  It’s in our hands.I feel that I have the courage and motivation to do this and if you are reading this blog post and involved in iTDi, it means that you have the same couage and motivation as well! Let’s start now and work together to help others outside of our current community.

Unplugged vs Connected  I’d always felt that I have to use  as much technology as possible until I attended a teacher training workshop called  Unplugged and Connected : Where Ideas Meet led by Luke Medding and Burcu Akyol. On the second day of the course, a fellow participant shared something a students of hers had said:  “I am not here to learn technology. I’m here to learn English.” Those words had a huge impact on me. Yes, we should use technology but there are other great ways to teach English. Teaching unplugged is one of them. It is communicative, engaging, and fun at the same time. Technology is just a tool — not the whole part of our teaching life. This year, I will make the most out of technology but I will try to be more unplugged as well.


The Things That Could Be Better List   I’m again the organizer of The Istanbul Bilgi University ELT Students Conference which will be held in Istanbul on March 9th and 10th this year.  This year’s focus is on Outliers in ELT, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make this year’s conference even better.  I’ve been thinking about this since the moment that last year’s conference ended. That very day, I sat down and started writing a reflection on what had gone well and what hadn’t gone so well.  As soon as I started writing, I began to see things that could have been done better, and so I created a list of those things.  I’ve been refering to this things that could be better list as I prepare for this year’s conference and it’s been helping me a lot.  Now I’ve decided to create a similar list at the end of each of my teaching days this year. As soon as I get home, I’ll think about what I did well, what I did wrong, and what things could be done better. I’m sure this list to help me better see where I am and where I want to be.

Perhaps you’d like to join me? Even if you’re in a very good place now, there are always things that could be better.  Let’s reflect, learn, share, and change together and end this year in an even better place.

Voices from the iTDi Community 2 – Sevim

Sevim Açıkgöz – Turkey

Sevim Açıkgöz is from Istanbul Bilgi University’s English Language Teaching Department. She currently lives and works in Istanbul,Turkey. She is passionate about using technology in the classroom, social media in education, innovation in education and having a personal learning network. . She believes that sharing and learning is the key to professional development. She is also a great cook, conference lover, and a sea, sand, and sun supporter

What are you passionate about Sevim?

First, I want to talk about myself as a person. I give importance to punctuality so I really dislike waiting for someone for a long time. Also, I’m a very tidy person and I do not like any mess around me. As a teacher, I’m very patient but what drives me mad is that I do not like strict procedures that can kill students’ creativity. Schools and teachers must work together and support creativity and critical thinking.

I’m also passionate about technology and social media. I also cannot think of a life without Facebook and Twitter and my personal learning network. I feel that I’m a lifelong learner I want to be a lifelong learner forever.

How and why did you become a teacher?

Why did I become a teacher? I have always wanted to be an English teacher. I always loved sharing my ideas and my knowledge with others. I always wanted to work with a lot of people around me and wanted to give them something very special. Later, I understood that knowledge is something very priceless that you can give someone. Sharing is what keeps me alive! Now, I feel very lucky that I’m doing what I love very much. This is an also an answer about how I became a teacher 🙂

What are you most interested in right now?

I’m very interested in conferences. It is great to learn from great educators and share your ideas with them and enjoy yourself at the same time. I have also organized a conference:  The Third International ELT Students Conference. Now I’m on my way to organize another one for next year. I’m also thinking of organizing seminars at my university. There are some other projects I’m involved in, too,  such as an  ELT theater club, and a website that will be useful for ELT teachers and students. I hope every little thing that is done by ELT educators will have a huge impact on our students and us as well. I also hope that every educator will be a lifelong learner and build his or her own personal learning network.

What things do you do to help you get better at being a teacher, Sevim?

I’m a technology addict. Social media is a must for me. I’m on Facebook and Twitter for a long time every day. I use Social Media to share my ideas and learn from others by sharing links, and talking about some important issues in ELTeducation. I have a personal learning network and this is what helps me develop professionally. I’m always ready to take good chances so I attend conferences  in order to learn and then put into practice what I learned. I’m also a student who is very eager to learn and share with others. I always believe that learning never ends! I also read teacher- training books (not so much so far, but really trying to do it very much).  I also plan to take a Celta course and other teacher training courses that can help me develop professionally. I try to follow the current news in my area and I try to be a good member of the virtual community in the ELT village 🙂

What’s the biggest challenge you face as a teacher?

As I mentioned, I think the biggest challenge for me is dealing with rules and procedures that force teachers and students to do something that the procedures require instead of what’s best.  Teachers must be creative,  and yes of course , there have to be procedures, but these musn’t limit  the teachers’ creativity. It’s our job to to get students to be creative and think in a critical way.

In the classroom, I think one challenge for me involves having to repeat the same lesson with other groups of students. Every lesson must provide new opportunities for students and that means making sure that learning take place, thinking is done, and students have the change to put into practice what they’ve learned.  Classroom management is another issue that has to be mentioned if we are speaking of challenges 🙂 No matter how good you are, classroom management skills are a must and this is what I call my biggest challenge.

What advice would you give to a teacher just starting out on a journey of professional development?

A teacher is a life long student. She must know that she lives in a digital age and that students are already digital people and that it’s been like this for years. She must keep up with the times and she must have a personal learning network. She must share, learn, and exchange ideas with her colleagues.  She should take online courses, face-to-face teacher training courses, and should be a member of some associations such as IATEFL and TESOL. She should attend conferences where she take lots of notes and then compares them with others. She can share her ideas by sending proposals to give presentations at conferences like the IATEFL conference or the Istek conference in Turkey.  She can read lots of teacher training books and she can even write a book for teachers! But I believe that the most important one and the biggest step that a teacher must do is to build a personal learning network.

Sevim, is there any blog or online link you’d like to recommend?

I’m a big fan of Burcu Akyol. She is my idol, so the first recommendation I would like to make is Burcu’s blog.

Then there are Işıl Boy’s blog and Beyza Yılmaz’s blog. I’d also like to recommend these. Işıl Boy : Beyza Yılmaz :

What’s your favorite quotation about being a teacher?

I’m a teacher. I touch the future!