Teaching Tip: Quieting Down a Rowdy Class (Guest Post)

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Elementary-aged children are easily excited and it can be difficult to quiet them down once something has really gotten them rambunctious.

Once a distraction has set in and gotten everyone giggling, it’s definitely a challenge to get the class hunkered down into a productive task again.

To help you out (and spare your voice), here are some tried-and-true tips for quieting down a rowdy class next time it starts to get a little out of hand.

1.) Freeze!

Growing up, one of my favorite game was freeze tag, where anytime you were tagged by the person who was “it,” you had to freeze in place until someone else came over to un-freeze you. This game also translates into a great tactic for getting a classroom to settle down after a recess, lunch break or any other time your class has been out and about on their feet and needs to get back to their desks and settled down.

The freeze tactic works best with a whistle. Any time your kids hear the sound of the whistle, they have to freeze in place where they are. On the third whistle, when your class is “frozen” and quiet, ask them to return to their seats and tell them it’s time to begin class once more.

2.) Lights off.

If a class has grown overly chatty to the point where you have to shout over the top of everyone, start clicking the lights off and on as a warning to your class. Another variation of this is if you turn off the lights and warn your class that anyone who’s still talking when the lights are turned back on will get their name written on the board, or whatever other type of disciplinary warning system you use.

3.) The shush signal.

This one was used effectively on me and my little friends when I was in elementary school. The teacher taught us all a hand signal (our pointer finger over our mouth in a “shush” signal with the other hand up in the air holding a peace sign). When the class got too noisy, she would look at the few students who were paying attention with the shush signal. One by one, we would all stop talking, copy her and work to get the other students’ attention to do the same. No one wanted to be caught being the last one (or two) holding up the shush signal because that meant we’d have to miss out on recess or some other kind of reward.

4.) Get them to repeat your words.

Finally, if you’re trying to give out instructions to a class that is having trouble keeping their attention fixed on you, I suggest getting them to repeat the last word of every sentence or repeat key words. For example, “Ok, I need everyone to take out their workbooks. Everybody say, ‘Workbooks!’” And the children echo you. “Everyone turn to page 27. Everybody say, ’27!’” And the children echo you. If the children know you expect them to echo you, they will have an incentive to listen to what you’re saying so they’ll know what to belt out when it’s time to echo. Believe it or not, I first witnessed this tactic from a pastor in an early morning church service as a means of keeping full-grown adults focused on the sermon!

These are just a few ways that the teachers I’ve encountered have gotten rowdy classes to settle down, quiet down or listen.

What tactics work best for you?

This guest contribution was submitted by Lauren Bailey, who specializes in writing about online colleges. Questions and comments can be sent to: blauren99 @gmail.com. 

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