This is probably my biggest challenge. What do other teachers do to teach the kids how to be quiet during those transitions times (passing out papers, highlighters, taking out the textbook, or just me having to take a breath,) and how to speak in a quiet voice (or none) during work time? I've tried direct instruction and specific practice sessions, I also have a bell and a gong that signals they need to be quiet, but I have a big class with low students and they just don't realize how loud the class gets. I had a headache last Friday that lasted for hours. Also, I have the problem of students bickering with each other, which means they're ignoring the lesson and me. I feel like a mommy sometimes instead of a teacher! I don't want to shout, though, or be mean. This is their first year at middle school, and many are struggling. These kids have a hard enough life as it is, most of them. I have kids in foster care, homeless shelters, or who should be in Resource/SDC and aren't. I just want some ideas about techniques that work.
Are you sure you weren't writing about my class? I am so exhausted by the end of the day from the constatnt chattering. They literally can't keep their mouths shut. I was very tired the other day and mentioned to one of the other teachers that I thought we should hole punch a hole in both their upper and lower lip and tie a string through to keep them closed. She added that we could put those rings in that some wear in their ears and make a really big hole. This way they'd be quiet and "cool" at the same time. Can you tell we were totally exhausted.
Unfortunately I have no solutions. I can't even put my finger on what works and what doesn't because with my one group it works one day and not the next. No matter how consistent I am, they are not, so I have just been guessing and changing things to try to make something stick!
At my school constant talking isn't allowed. Students get discipline referrals for 3 marks, silent lunch, and if they are talking during a test- or benchmark they can earn ISS- In School Suspension for a day. I would suggest that you talk with your administration to have some backing from them. What does your administration have something already in place. We have a new principal and we are still working on our referral process. Our former principal didn't put up with anything and things were a lot more strict. Another suggestion is get together as a grade level and come up with things that you might want to set in place and agree on them. Some teachers at my school do "write-offs" ......I've never believed in these. I hope something was helpful!
I also have a chatty group of 6th graders. They have improved tremendously since September, although there are still two that haven't gotten the concept of being quiet. I usually preface any transitions with, "This does not require a conversation." Then, I verbally praise the groups that manage to complete the transition without talking. Does this eliminate all talking? No. I do find it does cut the talking down a lot with my group. For my chronic talkers (who tend to also be the loudest) I give them a reminder and then assign detention if they fail to heed the warning. I also use rewards SPORADICALLY. I know many people are opposed to tangible rewards, but I work in a low-income, urban school district where tangible rewards have been utilized since kindergarten by most teachers. If rewarding a kid with a sparkly pencil or gel pen is going to prevent a headache for me, it's worth it!!!
This is my first year teaching 6th graders and I swear I have never taught a class that was so talkative. I have tried several diffrent stratigies this year and the only thing that has worked is being very strict and not letting up at all. And there are those days that is seems like I am holding on by a finger nail but we get through them and go on. They way I see it either they can talk none stop and make me miserable or I can be strict and make them miserable until they figure out that not talking as much will make everyone happier.
I also have a VERY talkative group this year. I wanted to try something that would reward them for being quiet. I start on Mondays with the phrase "Let's Eat Candy" written on the board. I also fill a clear container with candy. Then throughout the week if they start talking I erase a letter. If they end the week with at least one letter left on the board then I let them each guess how many pieces they think are in the container. Whoever comes closest has to give one piece of candy to each student and then they get to keep the rest. At first I wasn't sure it would work, but it has!!!! In fact if I forget to write it on the board on Monday they sure remind me!
I think it is totally the age. I look at my kids from last year - in fact the worst one who was always out of his seat and talking is a different kid in 7th grade. They totally mellow out in seventh grade!
So what to do now....I use free time and table points. You need a timer that buzzes and a stopwatch. When we finish our reading class, for example, I say, "alright, we are going math next. You need your homework, journal, and a pencil and you have two minutes to get ready. The first table ready will earn 2 table points. Also, any tables who do this quietly will earn points." The kids start moving and I set the timer and put it up on the document reader. I watch for the groups who help each other and work together and award points accordingly. Afterwards, I provide them with specific, informative, and positive (SIP) feedback and say, "Thanks table two. You got your things out quietly and when Alexa needed extra help, thanks to Jen for helping her."
If they are all loud as they do this transition, i let them just waste the time. I sit back and put the stopwatch up on the document reader so they can see it. The stopwatch counts up and is linked to their free time. This time is taken away from their free time. (Every monday they get 15 minutes of free time for Friday, but the time goes up and down all week depending on behavior.) Once they realize I'm just sitting there, they'll get silent.
Here's the key: If they do it all crazy, I make them put it all away and do the transition again, as many times as needed. The whole time I run their free time so they are wasting their own time. WHen they are ready to try it the second time, I say, "Well, let me be more clear - Don't have a conversation AND take out your journal, homework, and pencil."
Redoing transitions, well, redoing anything helps so much. they will start to monitor each other which is what you want. When you hear them monitor their peers SIP them for that.
and with the free time - you can use it whenever. I find myself grabbing the timer during lessons when they get chatty. The second someone in the class sees it, they monitor everyone else. Make sure they get a good taste of free time in the beginning, so they know what they're missing when they don't get it. My kids play games in the room or we go outside and play kickball or some other games together during freetime.
My class is also in an urban area (east Phoenix) and we're 94% free and reduced lunch. I have 30 out of 34 kids who are ELL's as well.
Thanks phoenixeagle for the tips. My classroom is not set up to easily use an overhead and a teachtimer, like you described but I'm going to save the idea and use it when I can. I think you are right--it's the age and you just have to practice and have them redo things, over and over if necessary. Thanks for posting--I always get great ideas from my fellow teachers at PT!
I, too, have a very talkative bunch of sixth graders (aren't they all?). This is my first year teaching and I have tried a little bit of everything--some things work, some don't, most work for a little while.
I love your idea of starting out with free time and taking it back for time wasted. I have tried this a little, but hadn't come up with a workable plan. I love yours!. We start back to school on January 7th, in a new building--so I think this will be a great time to start this strategy.
I give my students 5-10 min. in the beginning of class to talk to their friends, turn off electric items, and/or get ready for class. If the kids are still bickering and being rude, pull them aside and tell them if they keep this up they will have detention. If they still aren't behaving, I tell them they owe be a 5 page and 1000 page essay on respect. This usually gets their attention to stop, and then I don't have much problems.Hopefully this was helpful for you!!!
I write the words FUN FRIDAY on the board every Monday. Each letter is worth 2 minutes of free time on Friday. The first letter usually gets erased fairly quickly but thereafter as soon as I walk toward the eraser someone notices and warns the class that I mean business.
I also agree with Kelly that 6th graders need time to chat, especially if they don't get locker/switching time between classes. I sometimes take a little longer having things passed out just so they can chat during the transition.
Call or conference with the parents/guardians of the students that do not listen to you. It is worth the effort. Almost all parents; poor, rich, married, divorced, homeless, single, whatever, want their children to behave at school. CALL THEM AT WORK! The way I see it, if their child is disturbing class so that I can't do my job, why shouldn't I disturb them so they can't do their job? After calling them at work a couple of times, they handle the problem for you, if you know what I mean.
I'm impressed at the total lack of responsibility that you are willing to let the kids grow up with. Why would a child's talking be the teacher's fault? Does the teacher's brain control the student's mouth?
a-parent, it is people like you who make our lives as teachers in the classroom a living hell. Yes teachers need to be able to control their students. But as parents you are responsible for teaching your children the simple rule of showing respect to others. As teachers, we're not their parents, you are. If you don't teach them to respect adults, how are we to hold them accountable for that expectation? I am apalled at the fact that you are a parent and would have such a lack of respect and responsibility about this. No wonder kids today display such disrespect, because of people like you!
a-parent.....are you serious?! We have a hard enough time trying to get our students to learn and retain information, now we have to teach them the social skills such as respect and courtesy that should have been taught to them by their parents. You can't tell me that when you were in school, that you could get away with that. Our teachers would have paddled us and called home, then our parents would have taken the belt to us! That's the problem, these kids have it far too easy these days because they know they have no consequences for their actions from their parents. You should wake up and see that you are an enabler of the disrespectful ways that plaque our schools!
I am the mother of a wonderfully cheerful, friendly, smart, and kind 5 year old son....did I mention he is willfull, confident, and chatty to no end. Sound affects, loudness, the whole nine yards...he's ALL boy! He has a hard time in school remaining quiet when he needs to be, but he's trying. His teacher calls me everyday that he has a particularly difficult day remaining quiet and we work on strategies together. You can't help but love him because of how excited he is about life in general, but there is a need for him to know when to listen and when to share his joy. I appreciate his teacher caring enough about him and his education to include me in assisting her. My son is MY SON. I had him and it's my responsibility to raise him and teach him right from wrong. I do expect his teachers to be willing to try new things as well as discipline him when it calls for it. I trust his teacher with his care for hours each day, but ultimately it is our job as parents to reinforce positive behaviors and rules at home. Teachers and parents need to work together. Parents need to stop being insulted when someone tells them there is room for improvement where their children's behaviors are concerned. I love my kid and want him to be happy and successful. I figure the more people I have on his side to help guide and support him, the better. Sure the calls get frustrating at times, not because of the teacher, but because my son is still talking lol. A Parent, it's the paren't job to raise their children. Be an allie for your kid and work with their teachers so they can get the best education possible and succeed as an adult and parent themselves. It's about respect. Respect for others, respect for learning, respect for rules and society, and respect for themselves.