Students talking too much, too loudly, or not at the right time? Learning is collaborative and, most of the time, learning happens in a community. Learning and teaching are social activities- kiddos need to learn 'learning' skills. Part of this skill set is understanding when it is okay to chat, when it is okay to be loud, when it is necessary (or okay) to be quiet, and when you need to be silent. Students need to chat & many want to chat- I love a classroom full of conversation and dialogue, but I also love a classroom that understands appropriate voice level.
This is one of the most common frustrations I hear- and have experienced as a teacher. Kiddos come running in from recess and are super excited about something, anything, and they are chatting loudly! You remind them it is class time and recess is over, yet they don't hear you. You clap your hands, sing a chant 'Macaronni and Cheese, Everybody' expecting them to reply with 'Quiet Please', but they still don't. You flick the lights ten times, now you have some kiddos' attention. BUT SOME KIDDOS ARE STILL TALKING.. what do you do?
Have you ever noticed once silent reading or journal writing is over, the noise goes from a few desk mates whispering to full out group conversations in a matter of minutes? It happens fast and can be a slippery slope if you do not stop the excessive chatting fast!!! So, what do you do?
Before we explore what you can do to teach 'appropriate voice level' and 'talk time', we need to explore why kiddos are ignoring your prompts & directions to be quiet or to use an indoor voice. It is really quite simple and can be broken down into two main points. (There may be a few other reasons, but these two reasons are specific to a class as a whole or as a learning community; whereas, there may be other reasons that are more specific to individual students).
Your students don’t understand what NO TALKING or COLLABORATIVE TALKING is or what it looks like. SOLUTION: you need to teach them what these terms (or your terms for the same concepts) mean, what they look like, and when to use them. This post will set out a teaching plan for you to teach your students what no talking is or what indoor voices sound like or what voice level to use when you are working in a group.
Your students don’t believe you mean it or they don't believe you will give them a consequence of meaning. SOLUTION: you need to regain your authority with your students. You need to revisit your current class culture, how do your students view you as a teacher?, and regain your role as the leader of the group. This post will explore how you can get your students to start or restart believing you mean what you say.
The good news....both these solutions utilize the same teaching plan. So, whatever the reason might be that your class is full of chatter boxes, you only have to follow one plan to get those kiddos chatting appropriately.
What can you do when the decibel level rises from collaborative to out of control?
First thing is first- there is no magic trick, no rhyme, or no light switch sequence that will make students lower their voices and remain that way!!!
BUT the solution is simple- it takes time, but you can do it... start now, it is only the beginning of the year, and by the end of September your kiddos will use indoor voices and respect silent work.
So whether you are teaching your students what it means to be quiet or to use an indoor voice OR you are trying to reteach your students to listen to you, here is your simple plan- now you just need to stick with it!🙌🙌
Check out our helpful hints for keeping the noise level to the expected level:
- build authentic and meaningful relationships with your kiddos: they are more likely to follow your ‘rules’ when they respect you!
Before you worry about anything, make sure you have a strong relationship with your class as a community and connections with each individual student. Not only should you value your kiddos for their individual awesomeness, but they should value you for your awesomeness. Make connections with your students, enjoy each other, but also teach them that you are their 'leader'.
- set clear and consistent expectations: make sure your students understand what you mean.
Ensure your kiddos know what you mean, and use it consistently! Expectations should rarely change- students need to understand what is expected of them in different situations PERIOD. Of course expectations will grow with your students- as your learning community masters your expectations (they demonstrate without any reminders), you will want to step it up. Always hold the bar high!
- practice different voice levels and explicitly teach when each level is appropriate & expected.
Students need to learn and to understand what you mean when you tell them 'no talking' or 'indoor voice'. Be clear and explicit with your instruction.
- define and clearly explain the consequences for not following your expectations (this works well when relationships are built).
Ensure your students understand the stakes- let them know the consequences when they decide to not follow your directions. You need to be consistent & follow through!!! Pick realistic consequences!
- remind your students frequently throughout the day of their expectations. Make sure they always know what voice level is acceptable for the activities. (KEEP NO SURPRISES)
Make sure ALL kiddos understand the expectations. You will need to remind them frequently throughout the day of the acceptable voice level and expectations- not only should you tell them of the expectations, but remind them clearly what the expectations sound/look like.
- stick with it!!!
It takes time to build understanding and to (re)build relationships. Do not think these changes will happen over night...or even by the end of the month. You need to pick a plan, stick with it, and move forward....revise as necessary....but only after you give it a go!
Reach out if you have any questions- we are here for you!!!