A few years ago I wrote a short blog post (on my old website) covering novel ways to get attention from a noisy group of students - you know the kids that just won't stop talking no matter what you do.
Why? Well simply because this would seem to be one of the most frustrating problems teachers face. I get emails about it every day.
Anyway, that post quickly became the most popular on my entire blog and received more than 400 (FOUR HUNDRED!) comments from teachers and support staff, all sharing their own tried and tested ideas for gaining student attention and keeping noise levels down in the classroom.
Unfortunately my old blog (and all the comments) was lost when we transferred to our new platform so I'm hoping we can recreate it here - with your help.
Would you mind contributing to make this blog post super-practical and helpful? Just leave your best classroom management strategy for getting attention from noisy groups in the comment box below.
Try to keep your idea as succinct as possible and be sure to keep coming back here to see the new ideas.
Oh, and don't forget to share this post so that other teachers can benefit from (and contribute to) the ideas in the comments.
I'll start us off with 5 ideas as promised in the title. These come from a mini-guide called 23 Ways to Get Attention from Noisy Students. It comes as part of a special, downloadable package I've put together called 'The Classroom Management Kit'. The link for this is at the end of the post.
These are incredibly effective. Anchors can be locations, pieces of music, body positions, props, crazy hats etc. and can be used to automate a variety of teaching processes. Here’s an example of how a ‘location’ anchor can be used to get attention from noisy students whenever you want to tell them something: Start by sticking a piece of tape or paper on the floor to mark a location in the room and tell students that whenever you stand on this mark, you will be telling them something extremely important. Rehearse by walking slowly and deliberately to the mark several times over the next few minutes lesson so that students get into the habit of quietening each other down when they see you approaching it.
Do this several times and your anchor will be sufficiently embedded. The first time you use the anchor, make your announcement of benefit to them e.g., “OK... Important announcement everyone; because you’ve all worked so well, I’m going to let you all... (insert reward of your choice).” From this point on, you should only need to walk towards the mark on the floor and the students will suspend talking to hear what you have to say. Remember to protect the efficacy of the anchor by giving occasional treats to students as you did when embedding the anchor.
Here’s how to turn a simple deck of cards into a very effective classroom management tool.
Get a regular playing card for each student in your class and write each child's name on a different card. Shuffle them up and get ready to wave goodbye to unresponsive students. From now on, whenever your students come to class they are going to be like putty in your hands – at least for the first few minutes. Why? Because you’re going to assign a forfeit to the unlucky soul whose card you pick at random from your deck.
Kids love to see their peers suffer so this is a real winner. Don’t worry though, I’m not suggesting you give them a painful or embarrassing penalty; just a challenging one.
As an example, I drink wheatgrass juice whenever I want to annoy my partner, Sally. Despite its many health-giving properties, it has the most disgusting, pungent smell (and taste) and turns our kitchen into a hazardous area for several hours. A small shot glass of this dark green, slime-like liquid is enough to send most students scurrying for cover so the threat of ‘tasting’ it offers the perfect penalty. Indeed, any task which is slightly unpleasant yet entertaining should get the desired response – a classroom full of cheerful, wide-eyed, hopeful young people, all enthusiastically waiting to see what happens next. All you need to do whenever you want silence is to reach for the pack of cards. I’m not kidding when I say this works beautifully.
Now, I’m not suggesting you turn your lessons into an amusement park – so before I get accused of putting entertainment ahead of learning please remember these ideas are to be used sparingly! Unless they work for you as well as they do for me. ;-)
The beauty of this routine is that students get to make as much noise as they want. It’s a bit of fun and I’ve always found fun to be one of the best ways of getting a negative group on side in the shortest possible time. Explain to students that whenever you sing out certain words, they must respond as a group.
Teacher calls out: “Daaa da da da… “ (2 second pause) “Daaaa da da da…"
Students respond: “Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”
Teacher calls out: “Day-Oh, Daaaaaaaaaayyy-Oh!”
Students respond: "Daylight comes and I wanna go home!"
Many of the most challenging and difficult to manage pupils in school tend to be those with leadership potential – the ringleaders. You can use this to your advantage and get them on your side by giving them responsibility for getting other students quiet at the start of the lesson. Ask them quietly before the lesson begins and out of earshot of other students: “Ryan I’m going to
Giving jobs to your students like this is a very positive strategy but always make sure you give them clear instructions as to exactly what their job entails. It would be counterproductive for you to award a responsibility (such as getting the class quiet) to a student only to have to then challenge them for doing something wrong (such as punching anyone who talks out of turn).
Done correctly, this idea never fails. All you have to do is present the class with something they’re not expecting and then hold back on the explanation. Kids are naturally very inquisitive creatures and will be desperate to know why you’ve arranged the classroom differently, switched on coloured lights, set up some weird equipment, arranged some party food on the main table, or walked in backwards with your underwear on your head. This puts the power ball very much back in your court... “I’ll explain everything as soon as you’ve all stopped talking.”
I hope you liked those.
If you'd like more ideas like this, as I mentioned earlier, you'll find them in my resource '23 Ways to Get Attention from Noisy Groups of Students'. It's included in the special, downloadable classroom management kit available below...
Get your Classroom Management Kit
Oh, and before you go, PLEASE leave your own best ideas for getting attention from noisy students in the comments below and then share the post - it will help teachers solve this most pressing classroom management problem.