Got a Chatty Class? 7 Questions to Ask Yourself
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Complete Show Notes:
This time of the year can be the most difficult for many new teachers because the honeymoon period is over, and the reality of how challenging this job can be is starting to sink in.
I know how it feels. I've been there.
You are heading into report cards so your anxiety might be going up a bit, and your class may be acting up even more than usual.
So, I see it as my job to stay especially close and aligned and supportive of you until we get through this challenging time of the year.
If you are going through that tough time, I want you to know that it’s completely normal, that you are likely doing way better than you think you are, and that even if you are really struggling, this too will pass.
You can do this and you can make it through it, because you can do hard things, and it will be worth it. You’re not alone!
To help you to feel more empowered to get through this time of the year, I want you to ask yourself these 7 simple questions that will likely give you some insight into WHY your kiddos are so chatty, and then I’m going to share some very practical steps you can take right away and implement in your classroom TOMORROW.
All right, let’s dive into today’s topic.
What can we do when we have a chatty class, and what can we do to change this right away?
First, Ask Yourself: How long have I been talking?
- We became teachers because we love to teach – but sometimes we don’t realize how long we have been talking.
- We need to ask ourselves if our lessons are too long for the age group we're teaching.
- The amount of time we talk should be commensurate with the age of our students - for example, if our students are 7 years old, we should not be expecting them to hold their attention for longer than 7 minutes at a time.
- How can we change the amount we're talking?
Starting tomorrow, set a timer so you know when you need to stop talking and give your students a chance to participate and be more actively involved in the lesson.
You likely won't change this right away, but as they say, knowing that you need to change it is half the battle. Be patient with yourself and you will be able to change this over time!
Ask Yourself: When was the last time my students got to talk? (Am I building in enough opportunities for them to talk?)
- Don’t just finish talking after 7 minutes and then send your students off to do independent work.
- Instead, build in plenty of opportunities for student talking after you have finished teaching the lesson.
- For example, have your students do a "think, pair, share."
- Let them work in partners or small groups.
- Build in opportunities for students to explain to each other what they’ve just heard you say throughout your lesson. For example:
Turn to the person on your left/right/behind you/in front of you and tell them what you just heard me say (or) what you think I just said (or) one thing you’re wondering about related to this topic.
- Highlight in your lesson plans to indicated when you have built in opportunities for them to talk throughout the day and to ensure they are talking during almost every lesson throughout the day.
Ask Yourself: When was the last time my students got to move/sit somewhere other than their desks?
- Are you giving your students enough breaks to get up and move around?
- Chattiness is usually an indication of restlessness. If kids are feeling restless, they will start talking a lot. Kids need to move often throughout the day.
- If you aren’t sure if your students are getting many movement breaks throughout the day, again, highlight your lesson plans each day to indicate WHERE AND WHEN you are building in movement breaks for your students.
- This can mean working in alternate spaces around your classroom DURING specific lessons, as we just talked about, or building in movement breaks BETWEEN lessons using activities like Go Noodle.
- if you notice that this is a problem in your classroom, I did an entire episode on creating movement routines for transitions between classes that I highly recommend that you check out – just click here!
- Sometimes it’s as simple as stopping everything you are doing and getting kids up to run on the spot as fast as they possibly can for a full minute.
Or. if that’s not your style, put on some calming music and spend a minute or two leading your students through some stretching. They really just may need more movement breaks like this throughout the day.
Ask Yourself: Am I stuck in “lecture” mode?
- Another reason that kids can get really chatty in class is because they are bored of the same-old every single day.
- So, a really helpful exercise is to ask yourself, “Would I be bored in this class?”
- View your classroom from the perspective of your students – you can see things differently.
- For example, if you’ve gotten into a pretty predictable routine of ALWAYS teaching from the front of the room, consider getting a little more creative and designing lessons that involve alternative teaching strategies like debate or skits or by using more cooperative learning, group work, or games.
- The possibilities are endless. However, it’s important to consider if maybe the reason your students are chatty is because they’re tired of the same ol’ thing, so you may need to push yourself to get a little more creative with your lessons.
Ask Yourself: Do I spend more time calling out negative behavior than focusing on the positives?
- This isn’t woo-woo. It’s practical AND it’s strategic.
- What you focus on really does expand.
When you find yourself saying things like,
“Put that away, stop talking, look here…” that's REACTIVE behavior.
However, we want to shift our behavior to being more PRO-ACTIVE:
“Hannah, I am so proud of you, everybody look at Hannah! She is ready to learn. I just love how you have your pencil out and sharpened, how you’re looking right at me. Amazing. I’m so proud of you, Hannah. Thank you. Oh, and everybody, look at how wonderful Zack is. Zack, I love that you are not chatting with anyone around you, that you have your notebook open and ready to go – wow Zack, you are so special, and I’m so proud of you.”
- Again, I did an entire episode where I talked about how to focus on the positive that you might want to check out: It’s Episode #9, and it’s called “The Best Classroom Management Technique Ever” where I go into a lot more detail about how to shift from negative to positive in your classroom.
Ask Yourself: Do I have clearly established routines and systems, and is my classroom well-organized?
- If you were part of the READY for School Academy, you’ll know that I dive in pretty deep when it comes to helping you to think through how to set up and organize your classroom and how to decide on and establish crystal clear classroom routines and systems before the year begins.
If you don’t do this work before school starts, you will likely have classroom management challenges throughout the entire year.
- However, it’s never too late to set up new systems or new routines in your classroom.
- So, if you are struggling with classroom management in your room and you just don’t know what to do to get things on track, I encourage you to try a fun, FREE new tool I created just for you to walk you through, step-by-step, discovering what your classroom management style is, and areas that you might want to work on to help your classroom run the way you want it to!
Finally, Ask Yourself: Have I set up a whole class motivator for my students to work together to earn?
- Now, you have probably already heard a whole range of opinions about external motivator systems.
- Some people really think they are not a good idea, and I know that this is a hot topic in academia. However, too often, I find that the people who have this opinion are people who (a) have been out of the classroom for WAY too long and have no idea how difficult our jobs are, or (b) They don’t really get how human beings work.
I mean, I love to teach. I love to work with kids and with teachers – but I still expect to get paid for it. It’s just how the world works.
I believe that school is a child’s work, and therefore, they get to be rewarded for it in as many ways as I can reward them. I mean, we give high grades for fantastic work, right? And those high grades earn students scholarships, right?
The world rewards hard work and achievement with all sorts of external rewards and motivators like this. But here’s the key:
- In order for external motivators to be effective, we need to engage our students in a conversation/brainstorming session to find out exactly what are willing to work for or want the most.
- Rewards do work. However, rewarding kids will only work if they are the icing in our classrooms.
Student rewards will not work if our lessons are boring, if we aren’t doing the work we were hired to do to create engaging and exciting lessons, if we aren’t already focusing on and purposely naming and calling out the positive and the good that is already happening in our classrooms, and if we don’t have clear rules, routines, and systems set up and established in our classrooms.
- However, when this foundational work is complete – when we are doing everything that we need to do to create an organized, exciting and engaging classroom, we do get to put some delicious frosting on an already tantalizing cupcake in the form of creative and inexpensive rewards for student achievement.
- If you’re looking for a fantastic whole-class motivator, you might want to try out my Monthly Mystery Motivator – they are adorable, super fun, and man, do they work!
If you're struggling with classroom management in your room and you just don’t know what to do to get things on track, I invite you to try my FREE new quiz I am creating just for you!
This quiz is called “What’s Your Classroom Management Style?” and it’s designed to help you to better understand the strengths you have in your classroom management, and also, to help you to diagnose what the underlying problem or problems may be in your classroom, and finally, to walk you through, step-by-step, a customized plan for how you can get your classroom management dialed in. Just click here to take the quiz now!
Coming Up Next Week:
Also, I really hope you tune in for next week’s episode, especially if you think you might have fallen into the trap of teaching from the front of the room, lecture-style, a little too often. Next week I am going to talk about Ultimate Student Engagement: 5 Positive, Easy, & Creative Ways to Keep Your Students’ Attention.
In that episode, I'm going to give you some awesome, simple tips and tricks for quickly spicing up and engaging students without spending a whole lot of extra time & effort.
I hope you have a wonderful week, and remember, just because you are a beginning elementary teacher, there is no need for you to struggle like one.
Dr. Lori Friesen | Beginning Teacher Mentor
Creator of the R.E.A.D.Y. for School Academy, Dr. Lori Friesen has mentored thousands of beginning teachers across the country through her workshops and courses. Host of the popular podcast, Beginning Teacher Talk, and creator of the innovative literacy program for 1st and 2nd grade, Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed, Dr. Lori is dedicated to serving educators and inspiring learners. Learn more at drlorifriesen.com and at howdogshelpkids.com.
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