Sometimes kids just have to talk. After all - when was the last time you kept quiet in a group of people for a couple of hours. Honestly, talking is essential to (and for) learning so ALWAYS keeping kids silent is both unhelpful and not an efficient behaviour management strategy. These behaviour management tips might make working with a chatty group more efficient and less stressful for you.
Use a THINK - PAIR - SHARE strategy. This is a learning activity where talking is critical to learning so chatty groups are catered for with the behaviour management strategy. A think-pair-share activity is when learners take a minute to consider some issue or concept.
Consider this activity - Who had the more dangerous jobs - pioneers who sailed the sea or modern astronauts.
Once the learner has independently written down some notes they discuss it with one or more of their peers. The "pair" discuss and develop a stance.
Finally pairs join with larger groups (sometimes this can be the whole class) where they share their thoughts in a formal discussion. Kids need some prior knowledge of the subject matter to discuss it in a meaningful.
Have a CHAT TIME agreement. Some may see that as an. "if you can't beat them - join them" behaviour management strategy.
I used this strategy with senior high school students and a younger but just as chatty primary group. The agreement was every 20 minutes, I would give them a 3 minute CHAT TIME.
When the chat time was over, the timer started for another 20 minutes. It worked well and strangely enough, a lot of the talk was class related.
To be effective, behaviour management is about setting clear expectations. If you find yourself stopping every few minutes to settle chatty kids, then this behaviour management strategy might be worth trying.
You can vary the time to suit you groups.
Behaviour Management Tip 3
Seat the students in single desks facing the board or teacher for silent work. Move them to another part of the room to talk. This could be a carpeted area or a seating circle. Sure, classroom space will be a limiting factor. When you call them back to their chairs, ensure that the kids know that it is a NO-TALK zone.
This behaviour management strategy is a bit like Pavlov's dogs theory. You are training the kids to associate sitting down in the chairs with listening. Wouldn't it be great if it was that easy.
But this strategy can be used with any trigger. Maybe a small flag up could be used as a listening signal. You could experiment with what ever suits you.
Behaviour Management Tip 4
Balance passive tasks with group work. I know that sounds like telling you to suck eggs.
But I have known some to teach from the front all day long. I've done it before.
You teach - the kids work. Fairly passive learning. A full day of it and groooooan! I hang my head in shame.
But I'm a lot wiser now. Mind you it has taken my 40 years.
Students often get chatty after prolonged periods of passive activity.
Solution: Balance these passive periods with active periods. Active doesn't just mean jumping around. It can mean that your progress from a listening activity to talking activity.
Instead of hands up to answer, tell the kids to give their answer to their partner. You can allocate them and A and B and then have A tell B etc.
I find that a pain but others can do it well. I just tell the kids to share with their partner and let them work out who does the talking.
Behaviour Management Tip 5.
Vary everything about the lesson - talk softer, talk faster, speed the activity up, slow it down. Sometimes this can refocus a group.
Variety is the spice of life.
Behaviour Management Tip 6
Use a conch (or similar). Remember Lord of the Flies? That's the behaviour management strategy used to control a large group discussion.
Have a discussion time where only the CONCH holder can talk.
This activity is best completed in a circle but can be achieved while students are seated.
Instead of a conch, use a foam ball that can be passed by throwing. You can let out a little aggression here.
Behaviour Management Tip 7
A chatty group can sometimes benefit by a physical game.
I always carry a set of tennis balls so I don't have to rely on getting sporting equipment.
There are hundreds of games you can play with a tennis ball, including just throwing and catching with a partner.
I like to attach this physical activity with a lunch break. The kids can go straight from the game to their lunch area.
Behaviour Management Tip 8
Try an investigation LIKE THIS ONE, where talking is an essential part of the activity.
Investigations, if they are purposeful, can be fabulous learning activities.
Behaviour Management Tip 9
Some groups just like a bit of noise to fill the vacant space left by a silent activity. Try playing non-invasive music if you want the students to do a silent activity. Forget about the punk-rock and dooff-dooff stuff.
Behaviour Management Tip 10
Honestly, just stand back and see whether the noise if ACTUALLY working noise. Perhaps the talking you hear is really discussion about the activity you are doing. If it is not interfering with the learning, then go with it. Maybe even join in.
I hope these behaviour management ideas help.
I would love to hear from you about a strategy that you have used successfully.
Check out these behaviour management resources.
Have you visited the behaviour management expert panel yet?