Classroom Management Help From the Experts on
Hello from Youth Change Workshops Director, Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. In our last issue, you were offered the chance to name the topic for a future issue. We got many interesting requests. Watch for more issues to focus on these suggestions. For this issue, we have chosen an idea from Theresa G., who is a kindergarten teacher.
Here is part of Theresa's email to us:
"I teach kindergarten and would love to see an issue dealing with constant interruptions…I'm not a new teacher (15 years) but the behaviors I have seen and dealt with the past two to three years are becoming much more common. Out of a class of 16, 8 of them have really horrible behaviors. "
Theresa, we actually covered this problem nearly a year and a half back, probably before you were a subscriber. Here is a replay of that issue plus some brand new methods not included in that earlier issue. Most of these classroom management methods will work with students of all different ages.
Here's the remedy for the constant interruptions: You have to teach the behaviors before you can expect them. This is true whether you have little kids like Theresa, or far bigger ones. Since most schools have no formal, written-down plans to train children to be students, many youngsters act like they have never been trained to be students. This training does not mean restating the expectations. This training does mean that you actually teach the specific skills that you want to see in your classroom or group room. You will have to teach each aspect of the target behavior, just as you must teach all elements of spelling or riding a bike in order to ensure mastery.
To focus on interruptions, you will have to teach all the skills needed for proper class or group participation, including how and when to: walk around, leave the room, chat with others, make silly sounds, send notes, borrow a pencil, and talk out. Until you do teach all those nitty gritty basic skills, you can set whatever standard you want regarding interruptions, however you probably won't get satisfactory compliance. You have to teach the behavior before you expect it.
In this issue, we are going to focus in on just one aspect of interrupting: the mouth. However, please note these next two points:
First, in addition to teaching the skills students need to manage their mouths, please be sure to also use lots of our popular motivation-makers so your youngsters value your site and service. (Find dozens of articles on motivation from our index to all of our educational articles.)
The more your students value your service, the more their behavior will reflect that. Similarly, the less students value your service, the more their behavior will reflect that too. Interruptions certainly may reflect students' low regard for the service you provide.
Second, don't forget to cover all the other skills that youth and children need to act acceptably in your setting. To stay focused on just interruptions, you can't just teach "mouth control" skills, but also must cover how to manage your body, when to arrive, when to exit, how to manage supplies, and so on. Beyond the focus on interruptions, you should cover all the classroom behaviors that you expect.
Classroom Management Methods to
Help Disruptive Students
Give Me Five
This is a fun classroom management intervention for younger students. Have the child give you a "high five" slap while saying: "High Five! 2 ears listening. 2 eyes watching. 1 mouth shut."
Do the Wave
This is an incredibly fun intervention that doesn't come alive at all in writing; you simply have to give it a try to appreciate how wonderful it is. This intervention can be used with any age group. Raise your hand, then teach your group to fall silent while rhythmically clapping to this beat: 1-2, 1-2-3 (two slow claps and then three fast.) Most classes quickly learn to instantly transform from rowdy to silent. The effect of the sudden clapping is similar to a crowd doing the wave at a basketball game. Allow students to take turns performing the job of raising a hand to initiate the clapping. You end up with a very quiet room– with no work required on your part to achieve it.
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The Mouth Goes Shut
This device is fun with any age group, and it's quick and simple. You simply raise your hand and teach your class: "When the hand goes up, the mouth goes shut." If you wish, a student can perform the raising the hand part of this intervention for you.
This device generates instant quiet. Sing the theme of the TV show, Dragnet: dun da-dun dun, dun da-dun dun. Teach students to be quiet in time to sing the last note with you. (The entire tune: dun da-dun dun, dun da-dun dun, dun!)
When Everybody Talks, Nobody Can Listen
The preceding interventions can engender quiet. Save this new intervention until you have taught your group how to maintain quiet, perhaps using one of our methods from above. If you have reached that point, tell your group that you have a treat for them. However, to powerfully convey how disruptive interruptions can be, ask all or many of your students to talk at once while you quietly share the location of a treat (such as stickers, popcorn, or whatever would be relished by your group.) Your students will not be able to identify how to access the treat because nothing was accomplished while everyone was talking. Stop the noise then discuss the impact of talk outs. Following the discussion, repeat the initial intervention and re-state the location of the treat. This time, ask the group to maintain quiet while you speak, and time how long it takes your students to access the treat. Help the group to compare the first and second trials as your students enjoy their treats. Ask the group to determine which works better: talking one at a time or everyone talks whenever they wish.
A Talk Thing
This intervention is a great follow-up to the preceding strategy. Now that your students have identified problems with talking out, ask them to develop a plan to fix the problem. Encourage the group to develop a concrete, immediately do-able solution like requiring students to have a "talk thing" in hand prior to speaking. What's a talk thing? It's anything your group wants it to be. It could be a ruler, a cardboard sign, a ball, or any item that the group desires. Whatever the item, the group can require that students possess the talk thing prior to speaking. They can determine the mechanics too. For example, they can put the adult in charge of monitoring and distributing the talk thing, or maybe they will have the person in charge be a student. In a way, it doesn't matter what they decide, because regardless of the configuration that results, your students will have established a way to control talk outs in your group or classroom.