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10 Effective Strategies for a Chatty Class

Spring is here and we all have spring fever! Energy levels are higher.  Students seem restless.  Behaviors that have never been seen before appear.  And your once quiet class becomes chatty.
Every year I remind myself that this is normal. And to be expected
But that doesn’t mean we can’t remedy the situation.

In this blog post, I will share effective classroom management strategies for taming the talkative class.

Here is my golden rule when it comes to this:  Do not begin teaching until the class is quiet.  If you teach while students are talking, you are telling them that it is acceptable to talk. So stop.  Wait. Don’t continue until they are ready to learn.  Do not worry about the time.  If they take your time, take theirs.  You will only have to do this once or twice and they will get the message.

1.Set clear expectations
Set clear expectations. Say something like, “For the next 5 minutes I am going to be explaining  ____.  I am going to expect you to be silent the whole time” or “Our goal right now is for everyone to be silent for the next ten minutes so we can finish our work on time.” Then, you be quiet, too.  We need to model the behavior we want.  After the time is up, give students a few minutes to chat.  Then, give them feedback and have them provide feedback as well.
I also recommend creating an anchor chart with your class so they know the appropriate times to talk.

2.Talk less
We get restless when we have to sit and listen without a chance to talk.  So talk less. Give students more time to talk to one another.  Utilize turn and talk.  Do class cheers.  Use callbacks.  Have students work in groups or with partners. 

3. Use Callbacks
Callbacks are a great way to have students reset and focus.  I use the same three for consistency.  When I use the “Class, class” callback students know it is time to repeat after me.  There are a ton of other callbacks you can use.  Find the ones that work for you.  To switch it up I will use different voices.  It keeps callbacks from becoming stale.  I will use my fairy, deep, underwater, squeaky, quiet, loud, fast, slow, etc. voice to keep it fresh.




4. Use Table Points
Give the table a point each time they work, transition, clean up, etc. quietly.  At the end of the week, the table with the most points, earns something.  Maybe it’s a treasure box, lunch with the teacher, ten minutes of free time, job of their choice, seat of their choice whatever you decide on.

table points

5. Blurt Alert
Blurt sticks are an amazing tool.  If students interrupt your teaching, this is a very effective strategy.  You can create a signal as a warning to give students a chance to stop. Or you can just give them the “teacher eye” and, looking directly at them, put up 1 finger then 3 fingers (make a W) so they know that is their one and only warning.  If it happens again, they get a blurt stick.  If a child gets three blurt sticks, then they have a consequence.  You can send a letter home or take away some of their free time. If you have a few impulsive kids, I suggest starting fresh after lunch so students don’t give up for the day knowing they’ve already blown it.

blurt sticks, blurting out

6. Secret Phrase

Tell the students to listen for a secret phrase (ex: lickety split.) that you will randomly insert when you are teaching. I recommend saying the phrase near the beginning and end of your teaching so they focus the entire time on the bulk of what you are instructing. Have students give a thumbs up when they hear it.  They will be so focused on you they won’t have time to chat. 

7. Read picture books
Here are a few of my favorite books to read that address talkative students.
Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker by Christianne C. Jones
Decibella and Her 6-Inch Voice by Julia Cook
Listen, Buddy by Helen Lester
My Mouth Is a Volcano! By Julia Cook
Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen by Howard Binkow

8. Use signals
Teach children to kindly use quiet signals to help refocus classmates. If the teacher is teaching and a friend tries to talk to you, put your finger to your lip then point to the teacher. This will tell the person to stop and
 remind them where they should be looking. Explain to students that if someone is talking TO them and they're not stopping it with a quiet signal, they are not helping their friends learn the right thing.  Good friends help their friends be better.  If their classmate doesn’t stop after given the quiet signal three times, then they can let you know. Some students are relentless.  I’ve had students move away and the talker follow them, so there needs to be a limit before teacher intervention.

9. Five Finger Countdown
Hold up your hand with 5 fingers up when teaching. If someone talks, blurts, or interrupts, you put down a finger. You do not need to announce who interrupted, it’s just a signal for students.  If you have no fingers up at the end of instruction, decide on a consequence.

10. Relationships {the most important strategy}
When you have positive relationships built on love, care, and mutual respect, problems like this end quickly.  If you have a student who is constantly being disrespectful, go out of your way to talk to them and get to know them better.  Find the positives and appreciate them.  Have conversations with them explaining your frustration.  Ask them to help you.
Relationships matter.  They are the most important aspect of our profession.  They make coming to work enjoyable.  Pour all of your efforts here and I promise you that you will see a change for the better.

I have posted all the materials included in this post as a freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Find it here.  And while you are there, give me a follow my clicking on the green star that says, “Follow me”.

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