Managing a Noisy Class That Won’t Shut Up!

Managing a Noisy Class

When relief teaching, you are very likely to encounter a noisy class. Managing student behaviour is a little more complex for relief teachers.

Relief teachers, many times, simply don't have the time or the opportunity to develop a working relationship with your class, especially if they are new to you.


There WILL definitely be times when you encounter a noisy class who do not respond immediately to your behaviour management regime.

Well that happens!

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 an inefficient behaviour management strategy. Not to mention a poor learning environment.

Kids have to talk to learn,

These behaviour management tips might make working with a chatty group more efficient and less stressful for you.

Helpful Tips when managing a Noisy Class


Use a THINK - PAIR - SHARE strategy.

This is a learning activity where talking is critical to learning so a noisy class and noisy students are well catered for.

Consider this activity

Who had the more dangerous jobs - pioneers who sailed the sea or modern astronauts?



THE FIRST STEP in a think-pair-share activity is to have students take a few minutes to consider some issue or concept. It is probably best to allow them to write stuff down - even jotting a few notes.



Once the student has independently written down some notes they discuss it with one or more of their peers. The "pair" discuss, share idea and, if an opinion is needed, 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.

Students need some prior knowledge of the subject matter to discuss it in a meaningful. The "think-pair-share" exercise is useful in situations where learners can identify and relate what they already know to others.

The purpose is allow the noisy class to channel their chatter into a purposeful learning activity.


Some may see that as an. "if you can't beat them - join them" behaviour management strategy.

I used this strategy with both a senior high class and a younger but just as noisy class. The agreement was every 20 minutes, I would give the students a 3 minute CHAT TIME after which the AGREEMENT was a solid 20 minutes work.

When the chat time was over, the timer started for another 20 minutes.

It worked well and strangely enough over a period of time, the chat time turned into a lot of class related talk.

To be effective with a noisy class, you must set clear expectations.

If you find yourself stopping every few minutes to settle a noisy class, this chat time strategy might be worth trying. 

If you get Chat Time working effectively, your Learning Time should be quality learning.

noisy class


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 but you can be creative.

When you call the students back to their chairs, ensure that they know that it is a NO-TALK zone.

This behaviour management strategy is a bit like Pavlov's dogs theory of classical conditioning. You are training the students to associate sitting down in the chairs with listening.

Wouldn't it be great if it was that easy. 

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.


Balance passive tasks with group work. A noisy class often develops after long periods of passive activity.

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 students to share with their partner and let them work out who does the talking.

Are you a Member Yet?

Membership of has some fabulous benefits.

Take a quick QUIZ to see how your relief teaching classroom stacks up.


Great Reminder

Rhani F - Relief Teacher

Great reminder to use think-pair-share more and in a variety of ways. Sometimes I ask for 10mins silent work after a particularly chatty time to refocus them. This seems to work and have ongoing effects, I think they like the challenge.


Great Idea

Kathy T

Some great ideas here! Will be trying think, share, pair and chat breaks too. As a teacher it's been a challenge to get used to a noisy classroom. I'd rather call it vibrant when there's lots of learning related chut chat and collaborating. It's unnatural for kids to be quiet!!


Thank you for the Helpful Tips

Vivienne D

Thank you for the very helpful tips. I intend trying the 'Think-Share -Pair' idea. Allowing the class to have a set chat time every 20 minutes (or whatever is suitable), is an excellent idea too. I am sure this would be most successful with the Year 6 and & 7 classes that I teach.

Frequent physical breaks with Primary School classes have always worked well and I totally agree with the 'conch' idea/tip.