Attention!! Right you noisy lot‚Ä¶ Silencing a noisy class
Getting the class to hush is not just an everyday routine, it has become a stereotype of what a teacher does‚Ä¶ ‚ÄúThe teacher on the bus goes shhh shhh shhh‚Äù. I think I could easily get into double figures if I counted how many times I had to shush a class during the course of the day. I you have something important to explain, the children need to be silent for this to fully understand. Pythagoras used to teach his students from the other side of a big screen. He believed that if the students could not see the physical presence of the teacher, they would have to concentrate even harder on listening to the teacher, thus making information sink in deeper. If I put a board in front of my class, I‚Äôm sure I would finish explaining something, remove the board, and half the class would be missing guaranteed! So maybe this doesn‚Äôt work in all cases. Getting the class to be silent is imperative in teaching and I remember it was the ‚Äòbe all-end all‚Äô when doing my PGCE. I mean, if you couldn‚Äôt get the class to be silent you were doomed, especially with year nines!! Aghh!! There are many methods to get a class‚Äô attention. I usually adopt the good old 3-2-1. This coincides with a specific spot in the classroom that I stand to address the class (anchor spot). Whenever I walk towards this spot, the children go an uncomfortable noise whereby they are not sure whether to be silent or carry on‚Ä¶ it‚Äôs great haha. I reassure them with the raised hand, counting backwards from three. With early years and key stage 1 children, they like copying. So silently, I point to my nose, my mouth, my shoulders, my head, my ears, then back to my shoulders‚Ä¶ until the whole class are copying. Clapping a rhythm also works a treat for all ages, especially in music, as the children instinctively clap it straight back. There are many methods out there and the key is finding the best one that works for you and your class. Always have a couple of different methods of silencing. If you do not mix them around, it can get tedious for the children, and there will be times where you need to use a different method to gain their attention. I also like to use the opposite to the children‚Äôs noise. For example: if the children are giving out low decibels of noise, noise that I can compete with, I can raise my voice calling out 3,2,1 combined with hand signals, or revert to the clap rhythm. If the children are louder than a jumbo jet, which is often the case in a music lesson, I find my anchor spot, raise my hand, and count backwards, without saying a word. Let silence be your loudness. If you find it difficult getting the class to ‚Äòshut up‚Äô, and it isn‚Äôt always easy, here are a few more tips I found on TES that might help.
Five fail-safe ways to silence a noisy class
2nd March 2016 at 12:00
If you struggle to get your students‚Äô attention during lessons, try these nifty ideas that can be used effectively with students aged 6-16 with minimal adaptation
Done correctly this idea never fails. Present the class with something they‚Äôre not expecting then hold back on the explanation. Kids are naturally inquisitive and will be desperate to know why you‚Äôve arranged the classroom differently, switched on coloured lights, set up some weird equipment¬†or walked in backwards. This puts the power ball very much back in your court. ‚ÄúI‚Äôll explain everything as soon as you‚Äôve all stopped talking.‚Äù
It‚Äôs surprising how much intrigue can be built up with nothing more expensive or creative than an envelope labelled “Mission Instructions”¬†or “Top Secret”. This humble¬†piece of stationery is the ideal way to deliver a host of quick activities such as ranking or sorting exercises, quizzes or even more elaborate activities like “scavenger hunts”. Simply hand a sealed envelope containing the activity instructions and resources to each student as they walk in with the instruction: ‚ÄúI‚Äôll tell you what this is for as soon as you‚Äôre sat down quietly.‚Äù
Playing a musical instrument such as a tambourine, cowbell, guitar or kazoo gives a non-aggressive but very audible signal that you want everyone‚Äôs attention.¬†You might consider linking the sound to a particular activity so that you have different signals/sounds for different actions such as sitting on the carpet (for younger students), putting pens down, clearing away, lining up¬†and so on.
These can be anything from locations and pieces of music, to body positions and crazy hats. Here‚Äôs an example of how to use a location anchor to capture students‚Äô attention whenever you want to tell them something:¬†stick a piece of paper on the floor to mark a location in the room and tell students that whenever you stand on this mark, you will tell them something extremely important. Rehearse by walking slowly and deliberately to the mark several times until students get into the habit of quietening each other down when they see you approach it. The first time you use the anchor ensure the announcement is of benefit to them ‚Äì¬†eg,¬†‚ÄúBecause you‚Äôve all worked so well I‚Äôm going to let you‚Ä¶ (insert reward of your choice).‚Äù
Use the ring leaders
Often the most challenging and difficult to manage pupils in school tend to be those with leadership potential. Use this to your advantage and get them on your side by giving them responsibility for getting other students to be quiet. Before the lesson begins ask them, out of earshot of other students.
Giving students duties is a very positive strategy but always make sure you give them clear instructions as to exactly what their job entails. It would be counter-productive for you to award a responsibility to a student only to have to then challenge them for doing something wrong (such as punching anyone who talks out of turn).
Rob Plevin runs workshops on behaviour management, student motivation and¬†mindfulness. He can be contacted through his website at www.needsfocusedteaching.com
I hope these little tips are of some help to you.