It’s an obvious truth that’s easy to forget. But when students in a class don’t connect, it makes just about everything about a class harder. Making pairs becomes a chore. The choir of voices repeating phrases dims to a whisper. The fact is, bad relationships between students shrivel the mood of a class faster than a dying rose. And without intervention, the problem can become near-intractable.
But all of the Japanese teachers I’ve ever met have been acutely concerned with this problem. This means that if YOU want to improve the atmosphere in a class, you and your JTE are probably on the same page.
This also means that you have resources at your disposal:
1) you can work with your JTE to encourage students to work better together
2) you can ask the JTE to talk with the classes’ homeroom teacher about the atmosphere (if they aren’t already)
3) you and your JTE can work with other teachers to help improve conditions in the class.
In my experience, there is a fairly regular process for dealing with classes. Tap into it and you can improve inner-class relations as well as the effectiveness of your teaching program.
What other kinds of problems have you encountered? How have you dealt with them?