Reply To: Calling Out

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This behavior is not unusual for the grade levels. Put up the quiet signal – whatever you use – and wait until they get quiet. Calmly explain that they must show you respect by listening when you are talking. And if they can’t handle that, then there will be no game/playing instruments. (If this does ultimately end up happening, make sure to give a sticker to teach child who was quiet / respectful.) Sometimes – especially in Grade 2 and up – self-policing happens after I say this. (Meaning they shush each other and remind each other of the consequences of being rude.) If they don’t obey the quiet signal, I say softly, but audibly, “Oh well, I guess I can put away the ball for the circle game / drums / instruments.” Usually at least one child will hear this and shush the other students. Once there is just a few more students still talking I’ll say something like “Thank you most of you for getting quiet. I’m still waiting on 5 kids before we can begin.” Again, students usually shush each other at this line. … The idea behind thanking kids for FINALLY getting quiet is from the Kill ’em With Kindness rule of thumb. Kids are always after attention and positive feedback, so when the chatting kids hear others getting a compliment, they instinctively stop talking and do what the other kids are doing so that they can get praise as well.

Main idea: speak softly when giving directions so that they have to be quiet to hear you. Say important things two or three times – no more. If after that kids ask about what I just explained, I say “I just explained that twice. Can someone please tell him/her what I just said?” If chatter begins – especially raised voices, I say “that’s strike one. TWO more strikes and we WON’T play instruments.” (Meaning everyone.)

If a couple kids interrupt me while I’m giving directions / talking, I usually pause a second and give them a look that says “are you KIDDING me??” then I continue. The right look is very powerful in controlling talking / behavior. Other times I stop and say “excuse you, I was talking. Please raise your hand and wait till I’m done.”

Absolutely not – first and second graders belong on the carpet. If they can’t control themselves / their mouths, I tell my kids we’re doing Pre-K songs. They utterly hate this idea!! I give the class a choice: “Either you get quiet and be respectful, or we’re doing PreK songs.” I have a CD of PreK songs sung by young children (which I admittedly use with Grade 1 at the beginning of the year, but they don’t remember), which I put on. Some enjoy it … about half ultimately enjoy singing Where is Thumbkin, 5 Little Ducks and Itsy bitsy Spider – grr. But the second and third times I threatened this on my second graders they quickly cooperated and got quiet. 🙂 Win.

Re; circle / giggling. Have the student who started the giggling – or who is giggling the most – sit in a chair facing away from the group for about 5 minutes. They need to understand that this behavior is not acceptable at all. If the behavior continues, have the student(s) sit out of the game / playing instruments. Consequences quickly send a signal to the kids that the behavior will not be tolerated. My classes always get completely quiet for a good two seconds when I give a consequence; everyone is afraid that it’s them. … Good luck!!