Every teacher, new teachers or veteran teachers like me, will have those moments when the class is just too loud. You want to make an announcement or you want to transition into a new activity or you just want to hear yourself think again, but you can’t, because the students are just talking too much. Many teachers will raise their voice and start yelling, and that is a bad precedent to start.
I haven’t had to raise my voice in class in several years now, and I have eighth graders! Yes, eighth graders! They’re in the middle of those I-Know-More-Than-The-Adults stage in their life, and they will get loud if given the chance. I’ve learned, however, how to get them quiet again without having to yell at them. I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned here on this post.
Here comes my disclaimer: Although these techniques work for me, they may have different results in your class. A lot depends on your students and how you implement these strategies.
That said, here are five ways to get your class quiet again without raising your voice.
1. Have a Predetermined Signal - I used to have a bell that I would ring when I wanted the class quiet. The kids were told at the beginning of the year that when the bell sounded, it was the signal to stop everything and look for the teacher. I know teachers who use a train whistle as their signal. I don’t use this technique anymore, because I found myself hearing that blasted bell in my sleep. It does work, however.
2. The Count Down – I sometimes will say, “I need it quiet in 5….4….3….2…1.” By the time I get to one, the class has settled down enough for me to concentrate on those two or three students who are still talking. I know teachers who count 1…2….3.., and that works too, but counting backwards tells the kids that something is coming to an end. Counting up could last forever unless you had already predetermined a final number.
3. I Pick You – Another technique I use is finding the loudest student, calling his/her name and making him/her stop first. I’ll say something like, “Stop talking.” It’s a little harsh, but it works for me. You may want to use a more nicer way of saying it. Most of the time, the rest of the class will stop talking so that they’re not the next one called. Sometimes the student I call will say, “I’m not the only one talking.” That’s when I’ll say, “You’re right, but I had to start with someone, and I picked you.” They actually see it as kind of an honor.
4. Copy This Down – Students are quiet when they are writing. If the class is getting too loud, what I do sometimes is either turn on my overhead projector or my Power Point or I start writing on the white board something that they need to copy down. I never make it a punishment text, such as “We were bad so we have to write this boring irrelevant sentence so we can get quiet again.” Make it something that has to do with the current topic of your lesson, and don’t make it an obvious attempt to get the students quiet again. As far as the students know, it’s part of the day’s lesson plan. Once they’re quiet again, I tell them to save that paper, and use it to study for the next test.
5. I’ll Wait – This is the technique I use most. What I do is stand in front of the class with my hands behind my back, and I say, “I need it quiet…..I’ll wait.” and I just stand there waiting. Believe me when I tell you that the students start shushing the rest of the class, and within 15 seconds the class is quiet again. Then I move on as if nothing happened. There are a couple of points that make this so successful in my class. First of all, I tell them what I need, not what they have to do. I need it quiet. Somewhere in their brains they see getting quiet as a way to help me. They don’t see it as a chore or a demand. Also, as they are getting quiet, I start looking for those students who are still talking, and I focus my teacher heat ray vision on them. Every teacher has this power. You have this power. Use it. Somehow, the students feel it, and they turn my way and stop talking. Then I focus my rays on the next talking student. It’s cool to see the other students warn each other, “He’s looking at you.” I always make it a point to continue with the lesson as if nothing happened. Never make a big deal out of the class getting loud. It’s normal for that to happen. You don’t want robots in your class. Accept that they are kids who will act like…well, kids.
Again, this is what I do, but I believe these techniques can be successful in your class too.
What do you do to get your students quiet again? Please let me know what has worked in your class.