Sunday 5 May 2013

Why I Stopped Shouting in Class

Invariably it'll happen to you if it already hasn't. You try to get your students' attention, but there are 20 or more of them and only one of you. So what do you do? You shout, raise your voice, trying to drown them out. It's no fun to do that. It strains your voice and shouting simply isn't nice.

I've stopped shouting. I can't compete with 25 students and it just adds to the noise level. Depending on your students' age there are a couple things you can try.
  • Start off strict
  • Make sure they know the rules and give them to students on paper
  • Ring a bell
  • Give pop quizzes with a pass / fail grade
  • Play music
  • Clap your hands
  • Do a motion / signal, ex. hands on your head or finger to your lips
  • Stand in front of the class silently
  • Count down
  • Write "Please be quiet" on the board
  • Sit at your desk in a power stance, ex. steepled hands 
  • Take points off their participation grade (doing homework, doing classwork and participation, staying awake, not using cell phones (except during activities when they have permission), being polite, coming to class (absences: excused or unexcused will cause them to lose points), bringing materials (originals only, no copies allowed and without answers so they can't buy used books off their "seniors")
  • Separate students and give them assigned seats
  • Talk normally
  • Make students earn their As
I have recently started to simply stand in front of the class and start talking normally. Sometimes the class quiets down quickly, other times it takes longer. Usually you have the people in front start quieting down first. They open their books and start paying attention. They may start shushing the rest of the students or the rest of the students may simply follow their peers' lead. Either way it works out in the end. If you do this, talk slowly or talk about another related subject. If you go over all of the directions before everyone is paying attention more likely than not you will have to repeat yourself all over again


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