Wednesday, January 21, 2015

An A+ in talking!

I love teaching 6th grade! They are funny, capable, interesting, and awkward. I laugh everyday I am in my classroom with them.

BUT...there is always a but... 6th graders talk and talk and talk. They excel at it. Over the years, I have started to look a bit more like grumpy cat--I know it is old age. And although my patience might be 100 times thinner than my ever-expanding waistline, I have found successful ways to deal with my chatterboxes over the years.

 I have a few incentives going on--they earn good behavior cards and letters that spell out Go Noodle so they can take brain breaks. I build in time for them to talk about what we are learning about with a variety of engagement activities. we review our expectations for behavior my teacher Spidey sense starts tingling--I know you all have that--that feeling of dread that courses through your veins when you feel the energy level rise unexpectedly in the room.

But none of that compares to my number one super strategy. It is cheap. It is easy. It is so simple it boggles the mind. Nothing silences a room faster.

Years ago, back in my teaching infancy, I would lecture, scold, name it, I tried it. And I had varying degrees of success but I felt disappointed, angry, exhausted. So, a kindly kindergarten teacher took pity on my down-trodden face and said "Sweetie, try to focus on what you want instead of what you don't." Well, between you, me, and the fence post, it took me a while to figure out what that meant....but it finally clicked.

So when the talking gets too much for my sensitive ears to bear, I simply find someone exhibiting the behavior I want and say something like:
"Wow, Jojo, thank you for working quietly."
"Kiki-you are so focused and on-task."
 "Table 3--I am so impressed to see how seriously you are taking your work."

And 9.7 times out of 10, everyone else settles down and gets serious....wanting to be recognized too. If it is a particularly tough day, I might toss in an incentive "Helga and Martin...please go pick a prize for working quietly."  Trust me, the results are amazing.

NOTE: It is important to select students carefully--avoid choosing the same ones over and over again as that can lead to resentment. And never ever ever say "Why can't the rest of you work quietly like Bryannah?" That will backfire faster than a speeding bullet....(I learned that the hard way.)  And for some classes the quiet might not last more than a few minutes...don't give up, don't give in, just find someone else to recognize in a positive way.  ;)

And, if you haven't already entered the giveaway, there is still time!

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