Some years you just have chattier classrooms than normal! It happens! There are many different ways to manage a rather chatty classroom and they might be different than normal management techniques.
I have researched and surveyed many teachers around the world and I want to share with you all the different types of advice that I received or found. Choose one tip that sounds doable to you! Try it out and if it doesn’t work or runs out of steam, try a new one!
-The Friendly Teacher, 1st and 3rd Grade
The biggest thing that has helped me is to have morning tubs instead of traditional morning work. You can read about morning tubs here from The Brown Bag Teacher. My students have about 10 minutes in the morning where they can build, experiment or play games. During this time they are allowed to talk about anything. I always explain to students that this is a privilege that I give to them so they have time to catch each other up and have “friend talk”. I explain to them if we have too much off task “friend talk” during the day then we can’t do morning tubs.
I have found that just giving students some time to get it all out of their system before we start content really helps. It also helps that they know they have a designated time to do this.
-Bech, 1st Grade
I offer “chat breaks”. The students know that if a certain assignment gets done without any extra talking then we will have a chat break when it is over. They are working to be able to talk to their friends.
Music and Whispering
-Bri, 2nd Grade
I will whisper when teaching which helps them have to pay attention. I also will put softly played music in the background as they work to help them focus.
-Alyssa, 1st Grade
During whole group, you can do a teacher vs. student scoreboard. If the majority of the group is being chatty then the teacher gets a point, but if they are on task then the students get a point! At the end of the week if the teacher has more points they have a discussion, but there are no consequences. If the students have more points they get a small reinforcement. You can give them a small treat or just some free time!
-Kate, 2nd Grade
I try to give mine lots of opportunities for productive conversation. I like them to have outlets for chatting because it helps their stamina during quiet times. I also think it helps them learn to “read the room” and determine for themselves appropriate vs. inappropriate times for talking. Being consistent with expectations is hugely important too!
Moving Desks Often
-Emily, 1st Grade
I move desks every other Friday (they clean them on the off week). They help me design a floor plan, then they get to pick where they’ll sit when they get picked by a classmate to write their name on the diagram.
Rules: you can not sit elbow to elbow with someone you were just elbow to elbow with; the last to get a seat is 1st to go next move; kids pick boy/girl.
Sounds like a lot of time moving desks? Takes 10 min. tops once they figure out how to read a floor plan. Also, who you sit next to becomes a privilege.
-The Friendly Teacher, 1st and 3rd Grade
I use timers OFTEN! For example, I give them a certain amount of fair time to finish an assignment and I put that timer on the board. This works really well with upper elementary kids. If they know when they have to get their work done they will work hard in order to meet that time. Usually, I say when the timer is done we are moving on and you will have to finish your work during our second recess. This is a free recess after they have already had one. I would not suggest taking away recess if they didn’t already have one that day.
-Melly, 1st Grade
I use a chatty chart. Each kid has 5 tickets and when they are blurting out or chatting during times they are not supposed to they lose a ticket. If they lose all five in a day, a note goes home. If they have a perfect day they get a ballot. The next week we put all the ballots in and we draw to win something from the prize bin. The more ballots they have the more chances they have to win! It works for probability too!
-Jen, 3rd Grade
I have rotations for ELA and MATH. One of the rotations in each block is a group activity or game. This allows them to work together, engage, and talk (on topic) which has seemed to help. They get their social interaction in a more controlled way. If they become too social during that rotation or at other times they know that I will make that rotation an independent one for the following day.
-Rhonda, 5th Grade
At a conference I recently attended, a presenter told the group, “When the butt goes numb, the brain goes dumb.” I try to keep this in mind especially with those classes that are chatty and give them frequent opportunities for brain breaks and to move about the room. This helps keep them quiet when I really need them to listen.
I hope you can use one or more of these ideas to help control your chatty classroom!