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Classroom Management Tips For Dealing with Interruptions and Constant Chatter

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A lesson doesn’t necessarily have to be totally silent in order to be a success – unless you’re Marcel Marceau – but if noise levels rise to the point where they are affecting others, it’s time to take action. There are lots of Classroom Management tips that a teacher can consider to eliminate or reduce these disruptions, and different strategies may work best for different classes.

This article will give you my top 6 classroom management tips to consider when dealing with a disruptive class…

Classroom Management Tip 1: Assess your delivery

Have you been talking too long? Almost all my early lessons consisted of a relatively long, didactic introduction; I meant well and wanted to ensure everyone knew what they were doing but student attention spans are not known for their longevity and it is unrealistic to expect them to sit in silence listening for any more than a couple of minutes at a time.

Have you used intrigue to get their attention? Have you chopped the work up into focused, bite-sized sections? Have you included breaks and humorous energizers? Is the work achievable? Have you made it relevant to them? Have you tried to include topics they find interesting? Are you playing background music and changing the tune during transitions? Are you using active learning strategies to keep them engaged and on-task?

If they are chatting excessively it may be because the work and/or your delivery hasn’t captured them. 

Classroom Management Tip 2: Stop giving attention to those who are talking –

Instead, make positive statements about the behaviour you want to see:

“Thank you for your responses – I’ll answer anyone who puts their hand up without calling out.”

“Thanks to people on this table for raising your hands.”

Classroom Management Tip 3: Try to deal with the problem positively –

As well as adopting a friendly tone, try dealing with the issue in a positive manner:

“You have a right to be heard – but you need to talk at the right time.”

“You’re a good talker, let’s hear what you have to say about the work.”

“You have a great speaking voice – we should use that – you can read the next chapter.”

Classroom Management Tip 4: Alter seating plans –

Split the group into mixed ability groups to encourage peer support or partner the offending student with someone who can help keep them on task. Use choices to introduce the idea that a seating change is likely to happen if they continue talking.

“Paul, you can either carry on sitting where you are and work without talking – or you’ll have to move to this chair at the front and work there without talking. The choice is yours.”

Classroom Management Tip 5: Praise small steps and encourage more progress –

Either verbally or with a written note placed on their work:

“Thank you, you’ve been quiet for the last ten minutes – keep it up. Let’s set a timer and see if you can get to the next ten minutes.”
Classroom Management Tip 6: Adopt a no-nonsense approach –

Start with non-verbal gestures; hold your arm out, palm facing them as a ‘stop’ signal. If they continue, walk into their territory and put your hand on their desk or on their book to let them know you don’t approve of them interrupting. If they persist, don’t get wound up, just tell them you’re bored and that their talking is preventing other people from learning. Then move on through your hierarchy of stepped consequences.

Want more help with managing student behaviour and student engagement? I offer three main resources for teachers:

  1. My range of books on Amazon: You can find them here or by entering ‘Rob Plevin classroom management’ in the Amazon search bar at www.amazon.com.
  1. My free classroom management tips service by email. You can sign up here!
  1. My Facebook page. Here you’ll find tips and strategies as well as questions and support from like-minded teachers. Come and join us here!