You’re stood at the front of the classroom, ready to begin your lesson that you spent hours preparing, making resources for and differentiating materials. But despite all your painstaking efforts, you’re faced with a class of thirty chatty students who don’t seem to have noticed you waiting patiently in front of them. Then there’s the classes that you’ve managed to get quiet while you begin teaching only for them to immediately start chatting as soon as you’ve set them on a task and turned your back. Whether it’s an annoying buzz of ceaseless chatter or outright disruptive noise, controlling a noisy class is all about establishing your authority and developing strong classroom management strategies that work for you.
There are a variety of reasons for students acting out and being disruptive or noisy. The class may simply be feeling very excitable, before lunch or on a Friday afternoon for example. If it’s certain students in particular, they may be seeking attention or attempting to be the class clown. Sometimes it may be an aggressive attempt to override your authority or it may be a response to low self-esteem or problems accessing the work. In this case, it may be a good idea to work with your teaching assistant, if you have one, who can identify students who may be acting out because they need extra support. Whatever the reason for the noise is, if it gets out of control it can seriously disrupt the education of the whole class. Be sensitive to the reasons behind the noise and develop a system that works for you and the students.
If you have repeated problems with student behaviour and your usual classroom management strategies aren’t working, it’s also worth taking a look at the state of your classroom. Ever heard the saying cluttered desk, cluttered mind? Well this also applies to your entire classroom. If you’ve got leaning towers of books, disorderly tables and jumbled resources all over the shot, then you’re not setting your students up for an hour of well-behaved and structured learning. Put simply, a disorderly learning environment makes for a disorderly lesson. Lead your class by example; if you want your class to take pride in their work, start by taking pride in your classroom. Here are six classroom management strategies to help you control your noisy class.
controlling a noisy class is about establishing your authority
You may be an NQT still moulding your craft or a more experienced teacher looking for ways to deal with that one overly chatty class. Whatever you do, your personality as a teacher will impact the kind of behaviour management strategies you feel comfortable using and which will work best for you. A bit of self-belief and confidence go a long way- if you can’t convince yourself of your authority then you won’t convince your pupils. It’s important not to get too upset with challenging, disruptive students and not take it personally. Most of all, when it comes to those noisy lessons, it’s important not to continually shout over the noise or attempt to talk over the chatter. Shouting to be heard can lose their respect and your authority.
2. Rules and Consistency
So how do you quiet a class without yelling? Well, it’s important to establish control from the very beginning, starting with controlled entry in to the classroom. This sets the standard for the rest of the lesson and, if consistently enforced, the rest of your lessons to come. Consistent, clear starter tasks or activities at the beginning of every lesson become a regular, expected behaviour and tempt students away from chatting to fill the 10 mins at the beginning before the lesson starts. But it’s all about achieving a balance. Despite needing consistency in your lessons, it’s also good to pick your battles and allow certain noise levels that work depending on the task at hand. With younger ages, this can work by using a traffic light system where students know that red means silent working, orange means quiet chatting to the person next to you and green means group talking.
3. Grab Attention
When the noise levels start to slide, you need to grab their attention and yelling at them is not always the way to do this. If you are always shouting, it loses power and becomes the norm. With younger children, it can be easier to grab attention with unexpected sounds like noise makers, bells, etc. You can try clapping or raising your hands where the students then have to copy you. Some teachers try counting down from 5, with students knowing that they are expected to be silent by the time you get to 1. Younger classes respond well to call and respond strategies: the teacher says “1 2 3 eyes on me” and the class respond “1 2 eyes on you”. This can work with song lines too. This may be enough for some classes, but noisier classes may need some incentives or consequences to remain quiet.
4. Rewards and Consequences
This brings us to reward and consequence tactics. It’s simple: reward them when they’re quiet and implement consequences when they’re not. You can try putting the letters ‘REWARD’ on the wall and each time they get too noisy or don’t respond to your orders, you then take one letter off. If all letters go by the end of the week then the class don’t receive their weekly reward. It’s best to give your class reward options, letting them vote on what the weekly reward should be. Alternatively, you could take minutes off their break/ lunch times for every minute you’re left waiting. What you choose for a consequence may also depend on your school’s behaviour policy.
If you look around, you can find a number of new classroom tools you might not have considered, including apps. There are a number of noisy classroom apps on the market, for example, if you’re open to trying something different. Don’t be afraid to try different approaches. New teachers are often more open to new methods while teachers who’ve been in the profession longer may sometimes be closed off to trying new thing in class. This can be detrimental as they may get stuck in their ways, doing the same methods time and time again that don’t work. You might have one system that works well for one class but not for another, in which case it’s a good idea to adapt your system. Perhaps it’s different depending on the different age groups you teach. Switch things up, try a couple of approaches and learn what works for you.
6. Reach Out
Don’t forget that you’re not alone. If you’re struggling with a particular class, speak to other colleagues who also teach that class. Being able to vent to someone who understands where you’re coming from is a great stress-reliever. Furthermore, if they’ve taught that class, they may be able to pass on some useful tips that worked for them. Likewise, if you know a teacher who may be struggling with classroom management, supporting them could really help them out.
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