In my first year of teaching I taught 3rd grade at a school in South Philadelphia. I was 31 years old and remember thinking I was really going to make a difference.
I think I technically had 26 kids on my class list but every time I counted, I had 38 children in my classroom. If kids couldn’t be redirected when they misbehaved in other classes, they would end up in my classroom. I was always amazed at how loud a group of kids could be. And now that I have only 3 kids, I am still amazed at how loud kids can be.
I had been trained in responsive classroom which essentially means that I ran my room like a community or a team environment. It was very effective for running a classroom of such a large size.
There were times that the room got loud.
Especially during math time. (Thanks, Everyday Math curriculum!) Math was one of the few subjects where the lesson began as a whole group at their seats.
It was hard to get their attention and I learned a trick to easily get their attention about a quarter of the way into the school year.
Instead of yelling or asking for quiet, I would whisper. Yes, it’s that simple. I whisper.
I’d say, “If you can hear me please come to the rug in front of the board.” The students that were paying attention and could hear me, did. The ones who didn’t stayed in their seats. I would teach in a whisper voice which made all the students stop talking. Kids are curious – they want to know what’s going on! In a matter of minutes all the kids were quiet and on the rug.
Try this with children, either your own or the kids you teach in a classroom. When they are being loud, or you are tempted to yell, whisper instead. They quiet to listen and then you’ll have their attention. It shouldn’t be done in a mean or harsh tone. Speak normally, just softer.
Does your house get as loud as mine does? What do you normally do to get quiet?