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Time to Think and Listen

This time of the school year students and teachers tend to fall into a routine of classroom management and activities. (Good!) It is also a time of the year when both the teacher and the students may become a little lax on the classroom expectations. (Not so good!) Students become noisier and teachers need to remind students to listen much more often than the first week of school.

If you are finding yourself spending more time managing your class now than you did at the beginning of the school year, it may be a good time to review the expectations in your classroom. Also consider these two strategies to help you manage your classroom involves “waiting.”

One form of waiting is to give the students time to think after you have asked a question. Lots of various research (just google “wait time”) has been done about wait time. Much of the research shows that teachers give their students too short of a time to think and respond. To help pace yourself, give your students at least 3 seconds before calling on students to answer the questions. The other benefit of wait time is to make sure the entire class is listening to your question and to others’ responses. This can be done by waiting for all students to be attentive. Remember, this is a sign of respect and you are helping the students to practice respectful behavior.  So providing wait time helps students to think and to become quiet in order to hear other’s answers is a double winner!

If you are having a difficult time having your students be quiet, take some time for yourself, to think things through. What can you do to help improve the listening and speaking environment in your classroom? Be proactive and reactive.

Here are some suggestions I can offer you:

  • Establish and reinforce clear expectations. Go over your syllabus with yourself and your students. As a class activity, you can ask students on a scale of 1-10 how they as a class are doing on each expectations. On lower rankings, have the class give suggestions on how the ranking can be improved.
  • Model and acknowledge appropriate behavior.  “I appreciate the respectful listening you are demonstrating today.”
  • If needed, change seating assignments for students. Because, transitions can be difficult for some students, forewarn the students the day before seating changes are to be made. When changing seat assignments, whether it is as a large group or two students, let the students  know that your job is to set them up for success and that is the reason you are changing their seat.
  • Have an extra seating area in your class for overly talkative students. Have a private conversation with them about their talking and tell them you want to do well in your class. Tell them that if they are having a hard time focusing or are distracting others, or are being distracted, to feel free to move to the other seating area when they see the need. You can also move a student to the extra seat as needed.
  • I learned years ago from a seasoned teacher, to always have a seating assignment and not let the students choose on the first day. It sets an unspoken tone that you are in charge. It can also take away the awkwardness for students who don’t know where to sit. It helps you to place students with special needs in a location that is beneficial for them. You can also separate students you have been forewarned to keep away from one another.
  • Use reinforcement statements such as, “Remember, to talk in class you need to raise your hand and wait until you are called on.” “It’s time to listen.” “I will wait until everyone is ready to listen and is attentive.”
  • Remember, screaming or complaining doesn’t usually build rapport with your students. Develop a bag of class managements that work for you. “If you hear my voice clap once….,” sound a bell or play music, raise your hand, put an object on your smart board/white board that signals it is time to listen or to stop talking.
  • Remember, we are social beings, be sure to build in time and activities in your classroom that allow students to communicate and interact with one another that is not facilitated by the teacher.

What are some strategies that you have developed or used over the years that work for you? Please feel free to reply and share your awesome ideas with other FACS teachers.

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