If you’ve been following me along here, you already know that I am not a “quiet class” teacher. I am a noisy, busy, bursting with excitement teacher. I like to call it…. productive chaotic sounding learning (Is that even a thing? I may have just invented something there).
But if you have an extra talkative class and you’ve asked and answered three important questions (click here to read more), then here are some routines and tips for helping encourage calmness and quiet.
Before we get started I just want to mention that NONE of these are magic cures… if you find one, comment below. Each of these ideas, routines, expectations, will need to be taught explicitly, practiced promptly, and reinforced regularly. (see more about teaching classroom rules)
Here are some things I’ve tried in my classroom to encourage quiet:
1.Visual voice chart
Students can see that you’ve established the voice level appropriate for the current activity. Students can even have their own small version with a clothespin if you find that particular students benefit from more direct reinforcement.
(This chart is available as a part of my voice levels resource)
Quiet music helps me to feel so calm and I fill like it just fills my patience jar right up! It seems to do the same for my students. When I discussed before about my students struggling to refocus for the afternoon, this was the first thing I tried, quiet music was already playing when they reentered the classroom for the afternoon. I also turned on quiet music during independent work time, when students were expected to have whisper voices. This helped tremendously. After teaching and practicing this, students would automatically quiet to a whisper when the music was on. ALSO, if the chatter becomes too loud I could ask “Is anyone else having trouble hearing the music?” (We have a routine to raise their pointer finger when I ask this type of question). This feels so much better than “Booyyysss and Girrlllss you’re tooo noisssyy”( Haven’t you always dreamed of being that teacher with the voice that drones on?).
3.Take a QT (quiet time)
I call this “QT” in my room just because it is a lot more fun to say than “quiet time”, but to each their own. I implemented this along with the quiet music, and dimmed lights. Students knew that after special we have a 5 minute “QT” ( I even make the time out signal like I’m some star quarter back or something). It takes time… but I consider it a time investment. It takes a lot less time than shushing and nagging them all afternoon!
4.Change your schedule (GASP!)
I know, this is a hard pill to swallow- just wait for #5. Sometimes your schedule just isn’t going to work. You can’t always change the lunch or recess or special schedule, but can you change little parts of your classroom schedule? Maybe a snack is in order during that chatty time. Maybe some classroom yoga, or a QT is in order. Maybe teaching math in the morning would work better for your students… give it a try!
5.Change the way you teach (Bigger GASP!)
Deep inside you might have this thought floating around “If they just listened and followed directions this wouldn’t be a problem”… but the fact of the matter is that it IS a problem… and there may be something you can do about it! My response to the chitter chatter dilemma (and the fact that I had such a wide range of academic levels in my class) prompted me to teach almost all day in a small group setting. Guided math and literacy centers every day. I limited my whole group lessons to 5 minutes at a time at the beginning of the year and slowly increased it (for my firsties) to 10-15 minutes. Let’s be honest after 15 minutes I’m sick of hearing myself talk anyway. Teaching in small groups had other benefits too including increased opportunities for differentiation, increased student engagement and more (More about this later!
6.Give them something to talk about!
When all else fails, schedule a group, partner, or table job for them to do together during these chatty times. If you can’t reign it in, take advantage of it!
I am so thankful I am not met by a dry and uniform group of robots each day. Every day I go into my classroom I am SO thankful to be greeted by a diverse enthusiastic group of individual little six and seven year olds (don’t tell them I called them “little”). Sometimes they’re a little chatty, but as I’ve said before, remember that it’s just because they have SO much to share with us, their peers, and this world.