Attending behavior would definitely be different in a larger class compared to a smaller class. For example in a smaller class the teacher might use strategies such as eye contact, or touch (in some cultures this is not common, though) to encourage students to talk (or in some cases discourage talking or a reprimanding look to discourage talking). Other strategies such as using a student’s name, nodding or smiling could be used effectively in smaller classes but would also work well in a larger class.
As far as numbers are concerned, a class with even numbers may result in the teacher making eye contact with both sides equally (if there is an equal number of students on both sides) whereas in an odd numbered class, where more students are sitting on one side than the other, the teacher may give preference to the predominant side and make less eye contact with the side that has fewer students. Moreover, attending behavior could also be influenced by how close certain students are sitting to the teacher. The closer they are, the more likely they are to be called on or attended to during the lesson.
If used effectively, attending behavior can be used to encourage students to speak more and vice versa. It could serve as a great classroom management tool. For example, students who are talking out of turn or interrupting the teacher or other students can be discouraged from speaking or displaying that behavior using the right attending strategies. However, class size, numbers, and perhaps even the sex of the students (and their placement in the classroom) could have an effect on how much the teacher interacts with each side of the classroom and each individual student.
By Christina Pietroianu – TESOL Diploma Graduate
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