How to deal with a noisy class? Avoid mistakes new teachers make by shouting with classroom management strategies to get students to quiet down and to pay attention.
Table of Contents
Develop a main quietening technique early on
The main quieting technique should be rehearsed and practiced on the very first day of class and often repeated in the first week, especially when they are new. Don’t accept anything less than 100% compliance. By ingraining it as a habit you’ll have a pleasant remainder of the year.
How to get a noisy class quiet
One of the most difficult things for a teacher is when the class gets too noisy. When the volume in class is unacceptable and you’re afraid that other teachers and people will think that your class is out of control and you are a bad teacher.
It’s one of the greatest fears teachers have. So today I will share some ideas on how to make a noisy class quiet and get them to pay attention to you.
Here are some ways to silence a noisy class:
Let’s look at the primary way to get a noisy class to quiet down. Ask students to quiet down by name. Don’t shout. Silent treatment from the right place.
Call and Response activities:
When students are engaged in an activity, you need to draw their attention with a pattern interrupt. If they are busy, you have to snap their attention back to the present. The easiest way to do this is through a call and response activity. The teacher calls something out and students are trained to do an action in return that overwrites whatever else they are busy with. Most teachers use some form of call and response. The best Call and Response activities require students to respond with an action.
Here are a few Call and Response activities to use in grabbing young students’ attention:
“1, 2, 3 Eyes on me!” Students respond “1, 2 eyes on you!“
“Sponge Bob: Are you ready kids? Aye Aye Captain!“
“Class Class Class – Yes Yes Yes!” (They reply with the same tone of voice, high or low.)
Rhythmic clap copy: Clap a rhythm, kids copy.
“L I S – T E N!”
“Hocus Pocus – Time to focus!”
Anything that works, for example: “Badapapapap – I’m loving it!“
Pop an imaginary marshmallow in your mouth – Students copy but can’t talk because of the marshmallows.
Another favorite is a Navy SEAL slogan: “The only easy day… Was yesterday!“
Settling Down Time:
Remember to give students time to settle down. Often we want them to get quiet immediately, but it doesn’t work that way. So give students time to calm down. If they’re busy with a group activity, you can tell them “Silent 20”! Students have 20 seconds to get to their desks and be completely quiet. It allows them to quiet down gradually without stress.
Other Settling Down Techniques and Chants:
The following techniques can also settle a class down. Some of them should be introduced with classroom rules at the start of the new school year and can be used daily. Some are only recommended for extreme situations.
In my own class, I employ the countdown “3…2….1…” rule.
Harry Wong who wrote the great teaching book: ‘First Days of School’ uses the ‘Give me 5’ method: “1 Eyes look. 2. Ears Listen 3. Mouth closed 4. Hands still 5. Feet quiet!”
You can also try to get their attention by:
Water and Ice. Say “water!” Then “flow!” And when you say “ice!” they must freeze.
Make animal sounds.
Sing a song, and get them to join in.
Start telling a group close to you a personal story, or gossip – Other students will get curious and start to listen too.
Raise your hand. Or put your hands on your head, and wait for them to copy.
‘Teach Like a Champion‘ author Doug Lemov uses a minimally invasive hand gesture and a countdown technique: “I need two people. You know who you are. I need one person…”
You can ask young students: “Where is my nose?” and point.
Give them an exercise break. Do a short stretching technique.
Do ‘Simon says’ for an alternative exercise break.
Write something on the board to draw their attention.
To conclude – the first week is vital
Remember, you want to get their attention in a positive way. If you can get their attention in a fun and non-confrontational way, you will earn their trust and improve the general discipline in class.
Remember: The main quieting technique should be rehearsed and practiced on the very first day of class and often repeated the first week, especially when they are new. Accept nothing less than 100% compliance. By ingraining it as a habit, you’ll have a pleasant remainder of the year.
I’ve got another video here on the 5 mistakes teachers should avoid when trying to get the class quiet. You can watch it here.