30 Techniques to Quiet a Noisy Class

One day, in front 36 riotous sophomores, I clutched my chest and dropped to my knees like Sergeant Elias at the end of Platoon. Instantly, dead silence and open mouths replaced classroom Armageddon. Standing up like nothing had happened, I said, “Thanks for your attention — let’s talk about love poems.”

I never used that stunt again. After all, should a real emergency occur, it would be better if students call 911 rather than post my motionless body on YouTube. I’ve thought this through.

Most teachers use silencing methods, such as flicking the lights, ringing a call bell (see Teacher Tipster’s charming video on the subject), raising two fingers, saying “Attention, class,” or using Harry Wong’s Give Me 5 — a command for students to:

  1. Focus their eyes on the speaker
  2. Be quiet
  3. Be still
  4. Empty their hands
  5. Listen.

There is also the “three fingers” version, which stands for stop, look, and listen. Fortunately, none of these involve medical hoaxes.

Lesser known techniques are described below and categorized by grade bands:

How to Quiet Kindergarten and Early Elementary School Children

Novelty successfully captures young students’ attention, such as the sound of a wind chime or rain stick. Beth O., in Cornerstone for Teachers, tells her students, “Pop a marshmallow in.” Next she puffs up her cheeks, and the kids follow suit. It’s hard to speak with an imaginary marshmallow filling your mouth.

An equally imaginative approach involves filling an empty Windex bottle with lavender mineral oil, then relabeling the bottle “Quiet Spray.” Or you can blow magic “hush-bubbles” for a similar impact.

If you want to go electronic, check out Traffic Light by ICT Magic, which is simply a stoplight for talkers. Other digital methods include the Super Sound Box, Class Dojo, or the Too Noisy App — an Apple and Android tool that determines noise level and produces an auditory signal when voices become too loud.

Late Elementary and Middle Grade Attention Getters

Back when I taught middle school students, I would announce, “Silent 20,” as a way to conclude an activity. If students returned to their seats and were completely quiet in 20 seconds, I advanced them one space on a giant facsimile of Game of Life. When they reached the last square (which took approximately one month), we held a popcorn party.

One of the best ways to maintain a quiet classroom is to catch students at the door before they enter. During these encounters, behavior management expert Rob Plevin recommends using “non-confrontational statements” and “informal chit-chat” to socialize kids into productive behaviors, as modeled in Plevin’s video.

Two approaches for securing “100 percent attention” are modeled in a short video narrated by Teach Like a Champion author Doug Lemov — a minimally invasive hand gesture and countdown technique (“I need two people. You know who you are. I need one person . . . “).

Another idea is to use a content “word of the week” to signal that it’s time for silence. Examples: integer, renaissance, or circuit.

Quieting High School Students

Sometimes, rambunctious high school classrooms need a little longer to comply. In An ELT Notebook article, Rob Johnson recommends that teachers write the following instructions in bold letters on the chalkboard:

If you wish to continue talking during my lesson, I will have to take time off you at break. By the time I’ve written the title on the board you need to be sitting in silence. Anyone who is still talking after that will be kept behind for five minutes.

The strategy always, always works, says Johnson, because it gives students adequate warning.

Another technique, playing classical music (Bach, not Mahler) on low volume when learners enter the room, sets a professional tone. I played music with positive subliminal messages to ninth graders until they complained that it gave them headaches.

Call and Response

Below is a collection of catchy sayings that work as cues to be quiet, the first ones appropriate for early and middle grade students, and the later ones field tested to work with high school kids.

Teacher says . . . Students Respond with . . .
Holy . . . . . . macaroni.
1, 2, 3, eyes on me . . . . . . 1, 2, eyes on you.
I’m incredible . . . . . . like the Hulk. Grrrrrr. (Kids flex during the last sound)
Ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy . . . . . . macarena.
I get knocked down . . . . . . but I get up again, you’re never going to keep me down.
Oh Mickey, you’re so fine . . . . . . you’re so fine, you blow my mind — hey Mickey.
The only easy day . . . . . . was yesterday. (A Navy Seals slogan)

Implementation Suggestions

For maximum effect, teach your quiet signal and procedure, as demonstrated in these elementary and high school classroom videos. Next, have kids rehearse being noisy until you give the signal for silence. Don’t accept anything less than 100 percent compliance. Then describe appropriate levels of noise for different contexts, such as when you’re talking (zero noise) or during a writing workshop (quiet voices), etc.

If a rough class intimidates you (we’ve all been there), privately practice stating the following in an authoritative voice: “My words are important. Students will listen to me.” Say it until you believe it. Finally, take comfort in the knowledge that, out of three million U.S. educators who taught today, two or three might have struggled to silence a rowdy class.

How do you get your students’ attention?

Post:http://www.edutopia.org/blog/30-techniques-quiet-noisy-class-todd-finley

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Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion

Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.'” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.

Educating Parents About Education

In too many classrooms in America, parents are often viewed as the adversaries of teachers. While this isn’t true for every school district, even one is too many. The parent-teacher relationship is just one of the many factors that complicate our educational system, and it’s a prime example. Why is this relationship such a variable? The parent’s personal experience with education probably tops the list, but how the culture of the school accepts and relates to parents is a close second. Of course, every parent’s number one concern will be: “Is my child getting a proper education to compete and thrive in our world?”

Things Have Changed

In the past, communication has always been a key factor in bringing teachers and parents together. Today, we might add transparency as a key factor in parents’ understanding of what goes on at school.

The one thing most Americans have in common is an experience with our education system. As a result, almost everyone has an opinion on what is right and, even often more vocalized, what is wrong with the system.

What complicates these views further is the fact that most of us were educated by teachers who employed 20th century pedagogy and methodology, which means that the 20th century is the basis of our educational experience. Since we are now almost halfway through the second decade of the 21st century, we need to get everyone up to speed. This requires educating parents about the education of their children. For example:

  • No longer can a teacher’s quality be judged by the amount of homework assigned.
  • Quiet and complacent kids are not necessarily signs of students engaged in learning.
  • The teacher’s content expertise should no longer be the controlling or limiting factor in a student’s education.
  • We do not need rows of desks to ensure attention.
  • All learning is not limited to the classroom.

We are struggling today to bring teachers up to speed with all of the effects that result from our living in a technology-driven society. It has had a profound effect on many educators’ pedagogy, methodology, and education philosophy. Education is a conservative institution that is slow to change, but make no mistake — changes are occurring. As big of a struggle as it may be to affect the mindset of educators while they model and share those changes with their students, we must recognize that parents are left almost entirely out of the process.

Keeping Parents Informed

If we don’t want an adversarial relationship with parents, we need to educate them about the education of their children. Technology provides a number of methods for keeping parents informed. Of course, the most effective way of all is a face-to-face meeting. In the past, Parents Night or Back to School Night was the standard way of informing parents about the teachers’ expectations. It was one night set aside for parents to check out the mean teacher they had heard so much about at dinner. We probably need to make that a more collaborative process. These nights could be more effective if we allowed parents to pose sessions on topics that they had an interest in. Teachers could pose topics that they thought parents should be aware of. Back to School Night could be just that — a night to learn about topics relevant to education in the 21st century. Sessions could be a hybrid form of the edcamp model.

A class website could be most helpful in creating transparency. Parents could access it at any time to see what is currently going on in class. Of course, this impacts a teacher as another set of things to do, so we should expect a great deal of support from the district in order for teachers to accomplish this. Effective websites often result in parent support, as well as an appreciation for seeing their child’s work being modeled online. Kids respond differently as well, since they now have a voice and an audience that includes their parents.

There are apps like Remind that allow teachers to communicate via text to parents without revealing the phone numbers of the teacher or parent. Communication of both good and bad news can happen instantaneously in a medium that many people are familiar with. A text doesn’t take two days to go through the mail to be possibly swiped from the mailbox by a mail-notice-savvy student.

Teachers can preserve students’ work in digital files or portfolios. These can be instantly shared with parents. Grades on a report card are only subjective promises of potential, while the portfolio shows the actual work, which is proof of achievement and hopefully an example of mastery.

Parent Education Starts With Us

Today, educators are doing many things that are not in the education experiences of parents or teachers. We can’t expect parents to understand these new dynamics of education if they aren’t taught about them. Age may produce wisdom, but relevance needs to be worked on every day. In addition to the load that teachers already carry, parent education needs to somehow become a priority. If we want our kids’ education to last, they will need models that both teachers and parents can provide. And we have to work harder at keeping parents in the loop.

How do you keep parents informed about and involved in what happens in the classroom?

Original article: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/educating-parents-about-education-tom-whitby

IEP: Students Benefit When We Collaborate Tips for both parents and teachers to improve collaboration around creating individualized education programs.

By Katherine Koch
How Can Teachers Improve Collaboration?

First and foremost, remember to be kind, listen to (not just hear) what parents have to say, and don’t judge them or their decisions. Parents are sharing with us the most precious thing they have, and we often, in our haste to stay on time with the meeting schedule, may forget that and focus on the difficulties the child is having and how we intend to identify and fix them—a deficit model. Instead, remember to acknowledge the child’s strengths and positive qualities, focusing on what they do well and how you plan to build on those strengths while still addressing areas in which they need additional support.

Original article:https://www.edutopia.org/blog/improving-collaboration-iep-table-katherine-koch

8 keys to avoiding teacher burnout (part one)

 Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers.

1)  Love your students (even when they’re not so loveable!)

Enjoying and growing with your students is one of the most important ways to combat burnout. Unfortunately when you’re stressed, it can feel almost impossible to see the kids as the beautiful people that they are. It’s really helped me to build times into our daily schedule which force me to step back and remember what’s important.

For example, in our class meetings, I set a timer for one minute and the entire class greeted one another by name, usually with a handshake of some sort.  That’s all the time to takes for every student to smile up at me, shake my hand, and say, “Good morning, Mrs. Watson!”  This act alone sets the tone for the day and reminds me that I’m dealing with kids who have feelings, too.

I also had my students give a ‘fist bump or handshake’ when they left the classroom each afternoon. This personal acknowledgement gave me another chance to connect with each child and really calmed me down at the end of the day when I was feeling stressed.  Sometimes I also had ‘tickets out the door’—the kids wrote one thing they learned that day and handed me their paper (the ‘ticket’) at dismissal.  Having a written record that YES, this day was worth getting out of bed for because I did actually get through to the kids, was enough to help me keep going sometimes when feeling discouraged.

You can have lunch or snack with your kids as a reward every now and then—an unstructured time to just sit and talk about what’s going on in their lives really endears them to you (and vice versa).

Look for little ways like this to accomplish the goal of seeing students as individual people with unique needs, feelings, and experiences. Sometimes the school system trains us to think of kids as machines that can be pushed to the limit every minute of the day and perform at 100% of their ability regardless of outside factors, and we have to intentionally do things to remind ourselves that this is not the case.

When kids feel cared for and respected, they will work harder for you and follow your rules, making the day less stressful and more productive for everyone. It’s worth taking the time and energy to connect with your kids, because the payoffs are ten fold!

8 keys to avoiding teacher burnout (part one)

2)  Focus on your big picture vision

It’s easy to get caught up in the little things that are so frustrating about being a teacher: repeating directions over and over, dealing with the same behavior problem from the same kid every single day, completing meaningless paperwork, grading a million papers…and if you focus on the small things that drive you crazy, you WILL get burned out.

There is a reason you became a teacher—was it to make a difference in a child’s life?  To express your creativity?  To immerse yourself in a subject you love and inspire students to do the same?

Reconnect with that part of you.

Write out your personal mission statement and post it somewhere in the room where you (and maybe only you) will see it throughout the day.

Create goals that you know you can meet and celebrate your success when you reach them.

Don’t major in the minors or allow yourself to become discouraged by distractions. The extent of your work and your impact goes far beyond what you see from day to day. Seeds are being planted, and lives are being changed, whether you see the results immediately or not.

8 keys to avoiding teacher burnout (part one)

3) Create a strong support system

I am blessed to have had at least one person in each school I’ve worked in that I considered a true friend—not just a colleague or associate, but a person that I could call at 2 a.m. with a flat tire and know that she would pick me up. When I was single, I hung out with someone from my job almost every single day, whether it was for something fun like shopping at the mall or hanging out on the beach, or something practical, like running errands together or keeping an eye on her kids while she cooked dinner for us (a good trade, I might add.) Knowing that I had someone I can go to with any problem, personal or professional, was the main thing that got me through the day sometimes—that thought of, whew, in an hour I can go next door and just vent!

If you wish you had friends like that in your school, give it time.  Because teachers spend so much time isolated in their own classrooms, there aren’t many opportunities to get to know one another, and it can take awhile to get close to your colleagues. Be open to opportunities, and don’t write anyone off–I’ve often bonded with people that I would have never imagined myself growing close to! Even finding just one wise person you trust and can share ideas with might be all you need.

When time goes by and you feel like you still aren’t making connections with anyone in your current teaching position, you could also consider moving to another grade level or even school where there are teachers that have similar personalities (and ideally, life situations) as you.  Having a strong support system is just that critical, and it’s sometimes worth the move!

When a student needs a break and you have a trusted colleague, you can send the child to him or her to work for awhile, no questions asked.  When you miss a meeting, you have someone to take notes for you. When you’re rearranging your classroom or revamping your behavior plan, you have someone to bounce ideas off. If you have even a single co-worker that you can count on for that, it’s going to make a big difference in your energy level and enthusiasm at work.

Even if you don’t have true friends at work—or if you prefer to keep your personal and professional lives separate—it is important to have people you trust and can go to when you’re stressed at school.  Your spouse, friends, and family do NOT understand what it is like to be a teacher unless they have been educators themselves—what we go through on a daily basis in completely beyond the realm of imagination for the general public.  You need to talk to another teacher who understands the pressure you’re under, so seek people out in teacher Facebook groups, message board forums, Twitter chats, and so on. Join one of my book clubs or The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club. There are fantastic teachers out there who want to offer support and friendship!

Don't let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life

4)  Focus on flexibility and express your creativity

For me, one of the best aspects of being a teacher is the ability to be creative and let my classroom and daily routines reflect my personality and interests. Before you complain that YOU don’t have that kind of flexibility, let me assure you, I taught in Florida where third graders were automatically retained if they didn’t pass the state standardized test, so I was under a tremendous amount of pressure.  We had to have our schedules posted and were supposed to adhere to them at all times. Our lesson plans had to be planned as a grade level team and followed precisely.

And even with these types of restraints, I still maintained a sense of freedom in my classroom.  Sure, I needed to teach a specific standard on this day between 11:15 a.m. and 11:45 a.m., but I could teach it any way I wanted—with apps, individual dry erase boards, games, manipulatives, group activities, music, and so on.

I’d start the lesson I had planned, gauge the kids’ interest, and then adjust accordingly. I don’t know of any teachers, other than those who have scripted lessons, who are not allowed that sort of freedom, in reality if not on paper.  Don’t lose sight of how awesome it is to choose many of the activities you do each day!

You probably have more control over your classroom than you realize. If your head hurts, you can have the kids can do more independent work; if you’re feeling energetic, you can teach using a game; if you want to sit down for awhile, you can call the kids to the carpet and teach while relaxing in a rocking chair.  We have a tremendous amount of flexibility that we CANNOT overlook.

Think about how many people sit behind a desk nine hours a day, every day, doing the work other people assign to them. Hardly anyone gets to change tasks to suit their moods and still be productive—we do, because teaching is as much an art as it is a science, and there are a limitless number of ways to teach effectively.

Yes, there are many limits and restraints on teachers that threaten to suck all the joy out of our profession. But when you focus on what you DO have control over and all the ways that you CAN be flexible and express your creativity, you return to that original passion you had for teaching.

You took this job because you wanted to do awesome things with kids every day. So do that! Stay focused on your vision rather than the restraints that create burnout.

Go into your classroom and focus on what’s meaningful. Use the flexibility and opportunities to be creative that you’re given. Surround yourself with awesome teachers and a strong support network so you don’t feel isolated. Return to your big picture vision as a teacher, and enjoy your students. You can do this, and remember–it’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be worth it! Next Sunday, I’ll share four more keys to avoiding burnout right here in this post. 

8 keys to avoiding teacher burnout (part one)

 

Original: http://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/blog

30 Techniques to Quiet a Noisy Class

One day, in front 36 riotous sophomores, I clutched my chest and dropped to my knees like Sergeant Elias at the end of Platoon. Instantly, dead silence and open mouths replaced classroom Armageddon. Standing up like nothing had happened, I said, “Thanks for your attention — let’s talk about love poems.”

I never used that stunt again. After all, should a real emergency occur, it would be better if students call 911 rather than post my motionless body on YouTube. I’ve thought this through.

Most teachers use silencing methods, such as flicking the lights, ringing a call bell (see Teacher Tipster’s charming video on the subject), raising two fingers, saying “Attention, class,” or using Harry Wong’s Give Me 5 — a command for students to:

  1. Focus their eyes on the speaker
  2. Be quiet
  3. Be still
  4. Empty their hands
  5. Listen.

There is also the “three fingers” version, which stands for stop, look, and listen. Fortunately, none of these involve medical hoaxes.

Lesser known techniques are described below and categorized by grade bands:

How to Quiet Kindergarten and Early Elementary School Children

Novelty successfully captures young students’ attention, such as the sound of a wind chime or rain stick. Beth O., in Cornerstone for Teachers, tells her students, “Pop a marshmallow in.” Next she puffs up her cheeks, and the kids follow suit. It’s hard to speak with an imaginary marshmallow filling your mouth.

An equally imaginative approach involves filling an empty Windex bottle with lavender mineral oil, then relabeling the bottle “Quiet Spray.” Or you can blow magic “hush-bubbles” for a similar impact.

If you want to go electronic, check out Traffic Light by ICT Magic, which is simply a stoplight for talkers. Other digital methods include the Super Sound Box, Class Dojo, or the Too Noisy App — an Apple and Android tool that determines noise level and produces an auditory signal when voices become too loud.

Late Elementary and Middle Grade Attention Getters

Back when I taught middle school students, I would announce, “Silent 20,” as a way to conclude an activity. If students returned to their seats and were completely quiet in 20 seconds, I advanced them one space on a giant facsimile of Game of Life. When they reached the last square (which took approximately one month), we held a popcorn party.

One of the best ways to maintain a quiet classroom is to catch students at the door before they enter. During these encounters, behavior management expert Rob Plevin recommends using “non-confrontational statements” and “informal chit-chat” to socialize kids into productive behaviors, as modeled in Plevin’s video.

Two approaches for securing “100 percent attention” are modeled in a short video narrated by Teach Like a Champion author Doug Lemov — a minimally invasive hand gesture and countdown technique (“I need two people. You know who you are. I need one person . . . “).

Another idea is to use a content “word of the week” to signal that it’s time for silence. Examples: integer, renaissance, or circuit.

Quieting High School Students

Sometimes, rambunctious high school classrooms need a little longer to comply. In An ELT Notebook article, Rob Johnson recommends that teachers write the following instructions in bold letters on the chalkboard:

If you wish to continue talking during my lesson, I will have to take time off you at break. By the time I’ve written the title on the board you need to be sitting in silence. Anyone who is still talking after that will be kept behind for five minutes.

The strategy always, always works, says Johnson, because it gives students adequate warning.

Another technique, playing classical music (Bach, not Mahler) on low volume when learners enter the room, sets a professional tone. I played music with positive subliminal messages to ninth graders until they complained that it gave them headaches.

Call and Response

Below is a collection of catchy sayings that work as cues to be quiet, the first ones appropriate for early and middle grade students, and the later ones field tested to work with high school kids.

Teacher says . . . Students Respond with . . .
Holy . . . . . . macaroni.
1, 2, 3, eyes on me . . . . . . 1, 2, eyes on you.
I’m incredible . . . . . . like the Hulk. Grrrrrr. (Kids flex during the last sound)
Ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy . . . . . . macarena.
I get knocked down . . . . . . but I get up again, you’re never going to keep me down.
Oh Mickey, you’re so fine . . . . . . you’re so fine, you blow my mind — hey Mickey.
The only easy day . . . . . . was yesterday. (A Navy Seals slogan)

Implementation Suggestions

For maximum effect, teach your quiet signal and procedure, as demonstrated in these elementary and high school classroom videos. Next, have kids rehearse being noisy until you give the signal for silence. Don’t accept anything less than 100 percent compliance. Then describe appropriate levels of noise for different contexts, such as when you’re talking (zero noise) or during a writing workshop (quiet voices), etc.

If a rough class intimidates you (we’ve all been there), privately practice stating the following in an authoritative voice: “My words are important. Students will listen to me.” Say it until you believe it. Finally, take comfort in the knowledge that, out of three million U.S. educators who taught today, two or three might have struggled to silence a rowdy class.

How do you get your students’ attention?

Post:http://www.edutopia.org/blog/30-techniques-quiet-noisy-class-todd-finley

Four Skills to Teach Students In the First Five Days of School