5 Ways to Quiet a Noisy Classroom

Do you have a chatty class?   I am seeing lots of teachers asking for help with very talkative classes in different teacher groups.  I have definitely had my share of chatty groups, but I really struggled with the group I had this year.  I found that I really had to take a step back and reteach my classroom expectations.  I do not expect students to be silent all the time, but I wanted them to understand when it's appropriate to talk to their friends and when it's not.  It had gotten to the point of disrupting instruction and keeping students off task.  I learned that I really needed to stop and reflect back to practices that had worked in the past.  I will share a few here, along with a freebie that you can use in your classroom to help with this behavior.

Classroom management strategies for a talkative class.

Set Clear Expectations

I realized that I had not clearly taught when it is okay to chat with our friends and when it's not the appropriate time.  After going through the different methods of instruction this past year during the pandemic, I knew that they just needed retaught those expectations.  We discussed when good times were to talk with their peers, as well as the volume they should use.  You may have posters in your classroom for the different volumes for talking.  These are great to refer to during different parts of your day.  This gives them a visual reminder on the expectation at the moment.

Make sure you also explain the WHY.  Why is it important to work quietly sometimes?  Why can we not talk when the teacher is teaching?  Once you explain the reasoning, they begin to understand why it's important.  We only discussed this, but I wish I had made an anchor chart for them to refer to throughout the day.  I made one and am including the FREE download below.  You can sort different instances in which they find themselves throughout the day, and whether it's a good time to talk or not.  You can download that HERE or by clicking the image below.  I included some common parts of our day, but yours may be different.  You could just write additional areas and times below the sorting cards.  

Classroom management strategies for a talkative class.

Mirroring

As humans, we tend to unconsciously mirror behaviors we see.  That's possibly why we yawn when someone else yawns.  The same can be true in the classroom.  The teacher should exhibit the behavior you wish to see in your students.  Appearing calm and patient truly makes a difference in how your students behave and respond.  Have a call and response or some sort of signal to get students attention.  Practice that signal over and over until you are confident they understand what to do, and then stick to those expectations.  After you do the signal, wait for them to stop talking and then speak.  Do not speak over them if they are still talking.  (Remind them of the expectation again if you need to do so.)  Then speak in a quiet voice so that students are really having to listen to hear the instructions.  I also have them echo instructions to make sure they understand what to do next.  A calming, quiet environment all starts with you.  Use a calm voice, be firm if you have to be, but do not yell.  Students will over time begin mirroring the behaviors they see in you.

Allow Lots of Opportunities for Talking

Our students love to talk.  That's just natural, so build in lots of time throughout the day for them to do so.  During instruction, I include lots of turn and talks in my lesson. It keeps them engaged and lets them have time to talk to someone.  You do have to teach those expectations for turn and talks also.  I also choose my battles with talking.  There are times where it's not really distracting them from their work, so I let it go.  Other times, however, it is keeping them off task so we discuss that before we do that activity, such as responding to the text in our reading journals.  I also build in partner practice or a game into each lesson, which gives them that chance to be social.  When they are talking academically, they are learning!

Calming Music

If students are completing an independent task in which they really need to focus, I will play calming music.  I just search calming music on YouTube, and use a video there.  I don't display the video; I just having it playing in the background.  I always use the same one, so they know it's their signal to work quietly.  

It also helps to have this playing when they enter the classroom in the mornings.  I have all of the overhead lights off, and just turn on the lamps.  We work like this all morning, and it really helps to start the day off on a calm note.

Incentives

Students are going to need incentives in the beginning.  They really strive to be their best when they are working towards a goal.  With this group, the excessive talking was keeping them off task during learning and work times.  So, we played this On Task Game as a whole group.

Classroom management strategies for a talkative class.

If students stayed on task overall during the whole lesson, they would earn a kid to board on On Task Bus.  It did take us a while to get the bus filled up, but I did give them lots of reminders about what we were working towards which helped a lot.  They are little, so they are going to need reminders and reteaching of expectations.  It also keeps them motivated when they are working together towards a common goal.  I didn't tell them when I added the last kid to the bus; I wanted to see if they noticed.  Once they noticed, they were the happiest I have ever seen them!  It was the sweetest moment and they were so proud of themselves.  I brought donuts as their reward, but you could do anything that you thought would motivate them, such as a dance party, bring a stuffed animal, etc.

I have also heard lots of teachers say that blurting has been as issue.  Blurt Bump is super fun!  Students have to earn four in a row in order to win by exhibiting the desired behavior of raising their hands quietly.  If they blurt, the teacher gets to add a game piece.  This one helps so much!  They will eventually get the hang of raising their hand to speak, but this helps in the beginning.  You can find the Classroom Management Games HERE.

Classroom management strategies for a talkative class.

We want students to come to school to learn and to be able to have the chance to be social with their peers.  But we also want them to learn how to be respectful and responsible.  Knowing when it's appropriate to talk and when it's not is an important lesson to be learned.  We as teachers have the power to set the tone and provide the example that we wish to see from them.  What tips to you have for quieting a noisy classroom?  




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