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To be an effective teacher you must have the attention of your students. Attempting to teach while students are whispering and chattering is unfair to you and the rest of the class. Use these strategies to control the off task conversations that may occur in your class.
Circulate the Room and Ask Questions
Move around the room while you speak. Don’t stand at the board and lecture. If students know exactly where you stand at all times they can hide from you and whisper without being seen. Walk in between the rows of desks. Check for understanding constantly by asking random students questions about what you are covering. If students know that at any point they could be called on to answer a question they are more likely to pay attention. If a group of students is talking during your instruction move over to that side of the room. Be sure to ask one of those students a question on what you just said. If the talking/disrespecting is really bad you will need to stop the lecture entirely, but in most cases it can be stopped by following these steps.
Provide Clear Instructions on When Students Can and Can’t Talk
Some teachers are more tolerant of talking during class. A student of yours could be used to classes where quiet private off task conversations are allowed or ignored. Let the class know that when you are instructing you do not want any private conversations. Tell the students that if they have a question they can raise their hand. If not, there is no reason to be talking. Being clear about your rules and stating them before the lecture will eliminate any confusion on what can and can’t be done while you are talking. Make sure to enforce your rules for every situation. If you let a few conversations go it will only get worse. Remind the class of your expectations, in regards to talking, before every lecture.
Keep Students Busy From Bell to Bell
Once the students enter your classroom there should be an assignment posted and a task to complete. Have a warm up on the board that is to be completed right away. If you let students visit and talk while you are taking attendance or dealing with an individual student issue the conversations will get going and they won’t stop when you decide to start the lecture. When you assign work to be done during class make sure that you don’t leave too much time.Have an extra assignment to complete for those who finish quickly. Students who have nothing to do are likely to talk and fool around.
Follow these strategies during each class and you will reduce the opportunities for students to have off task conversations. If the talking during class continues you will need to come up with consequences, but this is a good place to start.
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Four Additional Resources
- Setting Limits in the Classroom, Revised: How to Move Beyond the Dance of Discipline in Today's Classrooms
- Classroom Management That Works: Research-Based Strategies for Every Teacher
- Discipline in the Secondary Classroom: A Positive Approach to Behavior Management, Second Edition with DVD
- Classroom Management for Middle and High School Teachers (with MyEducationLab) (8th Edition)