1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

I just can't get them to be quiet. Strategies needed please!

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by globalthinker, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. I have recently started my first teaching post in a fairly challenging secondary school and I am really struggling to get the class to be quiet when I need to talk. I refuse to start explaining something until everyone is quiet and paying attention, but it takes so long that I have wasted so much lesson time. I do implement sanctions according to the school behaviour policy and I do praise the ones who are following instructions, but I am always waiting for a few who just can't shut up. It's unfair on those who do want to learn. Please help.
  2. Sorry to gatecrash your post, but as I was about to post something very similar, I thought it made sense to put them together! I'm doing 3 days a week supply at a challenging (but actually the kids are characters and I don't dislike most of them) school. I'm teaching KS3 langs, and have a bottom set Yr8 who are just constantly disruptive, out of their seats, fighting, etc, etc. (The throwing has lessened somewhat, so maybe it's just a case of time!)

    They won't shurrup and listen long enough to actually teach or help them, and are completely unable to follow written instructions. I do the whole praise the good, sanctions policy the bad, but it's a battle and a half.

    My latest experiment is the noise-o-meter, with an arrow drawn to where is acceptable, volume-wise, which worked in the last school I taught in just got a "oh God, that's just GAAAAAY Miss,"
  3. j_pink

    j_pink New commenter

    See my post "it's working"..
    Just do not accept any interruptions. If they do, don't teach. You won't teach them hardly anything for weeks - but it will be worth it in the long run and in any case, it's better than a whole year of disruption.
    When my classes go back to interrupting, out come the grammar textboons, silent working and if needed: new seating plan - boy/girl and calls home.
    Consistancy is key.
  4. Hi
    Couldn't help reading these posts. Have you considered getting them to set some classroom rules? I know you may think this sounds a bit lame, but hear me out. Ask them what they think is meant by respect and how they would like to be treated. Highlight that respect is about how to treat someone, even though you may disagree with their actions/decisions etc. Ask them how you should show respect to them. They'll probably come up with something like not setting homework, to which you can reply that it's part of your job, so you can't do that but say you're open to their suggestions as to how you should set homework. Then ask them how they should show you respect, but not before agreeing their part first, it's important for them to see that you're treating them with respect (or at least their idea of respect). The idea is to get them to buy in to a set of classroom rules. You then need to keep a note of these and bring them to their attention if they start to slip back into their old behaviour.
    Let me know how you get on, you have to be firm, keep positive and as j_pink says be consistent.
    Good luck

  5. FAO HOgamIgam - doesn't what you suggest only work in an environment where the teacher can talk to the kids for a moment without getting constantly interrupted? Otherwise how is the teacher even supposed to start, let alone manage and guide, the discussion you recommend.
    It seems to me your advice would only have a chance of working in an environment where it wasn't needed.


  6. I've worked in some pretty challenging schools with some really vocal
    children in the past. I had to radically adjust my expectations of them
    in order to approach the situation differently. For example, for as
    long as I kept giving myself the justification of "there's no point they
    don't listen anyway" I wasn't being creative about how to overcome the
    Then in the school holidays I helped out on a kids camp
    where the children were extremely excited and noisy. The chap running it
    managed to get them in the palm of his hand. He did this over the
    course of a few days and there were a few key things that I've now
    developed from what I saw him doing.
    1) He set ground rules and
    let them shout them out and talk all over each other until someone said
    "We should put up our hands when we want to talk." After that, each time
    they tried to speak with out putting up their hand he reminded them
    that the rules were theirs.
    2) He was more persistent at
    reinforcing the rules than they were at breaking them. It was exhausting
    but it was eventually worth it.
    3) He had a better attitude
    towards the children he was working with than I had with my class back
    at school. He really chatted to them and listened where I always felt I
    didn't have time to do that. Sometimes you have to make time for things
    like this to see a difference.
    I like the setting rules together
    idea and we refresh ours every term now to keep it in mind. I won't let
    myself blame my class for their habits again if I can be creative in
    finding a way to overcome them. Of course we still have bad days but Iknow I can do something to correct them now.

  7. fundisi

    fundisi New commenter

    I had this experience last week at a "new" academy (new buildings and new furniture - same old kids and same old teachers):

    What works for me is getting them all to:

    1..line up outside the classroom and waiting for quiet before letting them in.

    2. Splitting them into male/female on opposite sides of the room.

    3. Getting them to organise themselves in A-Z surname order, Z-A forname, age order, height order...whatever takes my fancy.

    4. Seating them boy/girl, boy/girl.

    And if they don't settle within 3 minutes going back to no.1.

    As a supply teacher I expect challenging behaviour even from normally well behaved classes - especially from the Academies that I teach at down here on the coast.

    This technique breaks them down before they break me down. It wastes their time not mine and it works especially well if they have to line up outside in the cold. Especially good to keep them waiting outside in the cold whilst you take a paper register. Repeat until behaviour/noise levels are satisfactory.The agency I work for rang me to say I received good feedback and that the school wants me back next week. QED.
  8. I'm an NQT in a school with a similar problem. I'm still not on top of it, and sometimes feel like giving in, but it has started to work with one class, and I WILL succeed with the others!
    I have a timer that I switch to on the board (http://www.online-stopwatch.com/). I tell them that they need to be quiet so I can speak/continue/give instruction - if that doesn't work, I start the timer. For every whole minute they make me wait for them, they owe me a quiet minute at the end of the lesson (after the bell/ at break or lunch). I even bring whole classes back at breaktimes to 'pay back' minutes of mine that they have wasted (luckily, I'm in a school where 95% of the students will come back).
    I make a big dramatic show of starting and stopping the stopwatch (fold my arms, shake my head, sigh loudly, shrug) so with some groups I don't even need to start it (with one group, flicking from the powerpoint to the stopwatch is now usually enough)
  9. Ms Chipping

    Ms Chipping New commenter

    these are all good suggestions. I also find that if the kids are interrupting each other it helps to stop the child speaking and lecture those that are talking about respect for their collegues. If you talk when 'x' is talking, why should he or we listen to you? I finds that some classes start with recognising respect for each other before they respect the teacher's voice. Be consistent, Don't get angry. You don't mind if they come back later to finish, its really up to them . They could work from boring books and you could have a cup of tea, which would be nice for you. Is that really what they want or are they going to listen? I find this kind of approach works, especially if you throw in a few detentions to the ring leaders if they persist , after warnings. Don't let them turn it into a 'game' of pushing your buttons.
  10. ILoveTeaching

    ILoveTeaching New commenter

    In this situation I try to remove 1 or 2 ring leaders in the first lesson and then call home in the first week or 2. In a good school this usually does the trick. If you are in a bad school with no back up from SMT then it could take much longer for your class to get the message. I have also done the "cup of tea" thing and just sat at my desk until they shut up. As soon as a pupil speaks I write in their planner and sit down again for a few minutes. Most classes soon get bored and shut up!
    Good luck
  11. Long time ago my Year 11 Physics group came in chatting their heads off. 5 minutes later after I had said nothing one of them asked why I was sitting on the bench looking out of the window. I replied that I was on strike due to their chat. Strikes had been in the news and I might have chatted about it with some of them in the playground. There was an Ohhhhh from them and they quietened down. I think that worked at that time because it was topical. Whether it would work again I do not know.
  12. Sorry but it concerns me that it takes longer than a minute to get a class quiet. I appreciate that this may be an option to use at the start of a year but by this time, half way through, that shouldn't be used. I work in a primary school with some very challenging pupils and I expect my class to be quiet within a three second countdown. Before I get torn apart for being in primary, my husband works in a tough secondary school and he expects nothing less than full attention after 'pens down, eyes on me'.
    Best behaviour strategy- teach engaging lessons which are pitched correctly. I'm lucky to work in a school with a good behaviour policy as well, which really helps when the children do step out of line.
  13. Like most people say, just give it time. I've found it helps if you explain that students will get a chance to talk when you've finished. Just let them know you'll give them a signal when to shut-up to again - but don't shout at them to do this!
    If they are particurlarly noisy then I've found a good class punishment is for one lesson just to write loads of stuff about what they're learning on the whiteboard. Make them do a load of writing so they get bored and their hands ache a bit! Ask them at the end of class how they like that?! Hahaha!
  14. Wow i agree with you about the unhelpful reply. That seemed like a massive dig to be honest.Im a 24 year trainee in a very difficult school that teaches d&t on rotation and often have to share groups. This means i meet groups every 9 weeks for 1 hour a week i spend hours planning exciting and fun lessons and often get it thrown in my face. The best advice i can give is know where they have been and anticipate the strategies you may need. If you have s difficult group find out if they have had PE lunch or even mrs been a teacher for 50years and know how to bore a cladd to death. That is in no way a pop at older teachers, my fav's at school were 2 older teachers who were amazing.
  15. I found all of your posts helpful; I'm an unqualified English teacher at a challenging academy in outer London area. I had little to no experience in schools prior to this and was offered the job out of the blue.
    I absolutely love it but am so scared about after half term when I will be teaching my own timetable- about 15 hours worth split between years 7-11.

    My experience so far has been positive whilst other teachers in the room with me but on the few occasions ive been alone I've crumbled. The kids turn manic and the usual discipline and praise system that I've been observing seems to go completely unnoticed. I feel completely out of control and near to crying. I haven't done so yet and have stuck it out (keeping a few behind).

    I keep being told that it's normal and that consistency and perseverance will pay off but I'm finding it hard to believe they will ever listen.

    I'm going to try the idea of setting ground rules together at the beginning of all my new classes and use the smart board to make an activity out of it and hopefully get their attention.

    Has anyone tried music as a way to get them to concentrate or does this generally excite them too much?

    Any feedback will be gratefully received to save me panicking before the new term!!!!

  16. kittylion

    kittylion Senior commenter

    Then why bring age into it?
  17. Some things that might work, in no particular order:
    -make sure that your lesson is interesting, and that the reading is authentic and relevant
    -take the time to explain, explore and discuss things that are of interest to them
    -let the curriculum go often; in the end everything can relate to what you are "supposed" to be teaching
    -be assertive, sit on the top of a desk, near to them, be the dominant talker in the room, speak very softly so they have to listen
    -look them in the eye, use their names, take up and use any remark they make that is the tiniest bit interesting, make them see that you really listened to them
    -greet them as they come in, say good bye to them as they leave
    -show them at every moment that they are respected and that you know they can be dignified
    -don't talk of "you", speak only of "we"
    -use music, art, video, movies, poetry, often
    -above all, show them that you are not afraid of them, that you know they are just kids fighting their own battles, that you like being with them, and that you like them
    Soon you will have one of the quietest classes in the school. Good luck.
  18. Agree with everything you've said. In addition, always have a key question that you ask the class for that lesson or have a visual stimulus on the board that is interesting the minute they walk into the class - something to focus on -. Hope that helps.

  19. A few maybe helpful suggestions.
    IF and WHEN you do get silence and attention - make sure you use it very quickly to try and engage them in something interesting. It is tempting to use it for the lecture on "at last, I've been waiting for this, it's so rude of you..........." Try really hard to think of something that will make them think it was worth shutting up and that they might even try it again. You'll have about 30 seconds.Even if you just do "Brilliant, I've got some REALLY EXCITING STUFF to tell you about" - and then do something ordinary.
    I've found putting the powerpoint of optical illusions on the white board - I think its on TES resources (possibly overused but none of mine seem to have ever seen it) gets them engaged on you and the board and less likely to engage in personal conversations and arguments has worked really well.
    Someone told me - that turning out the lights and shutting the curtains and showing a film clip right at the beginning made difficult classes behave differently and quietly. They go into 'cinema' mode.
    Have a paper starter very simple - fill in blanks, circle the wrong word sheet on the desk. They might be readier to listen if the first time you want them all to be quiet is to give them the answers. Then start the new material.
    As a very last resort in the very bad old days in the very bad schools - write instructions on the board have variety of resources printed and ready to work through and spend the lesson circulating around the group helping each pupil on an individual basis. Your first whole class instruction will be "time to pack up" and build from there.

  20. This is accuumulated time - the school has a general problem with over chatting, and it often took 10-15 seconds plus for them to quieten down so I can speak. If this happens 5-6 times a lesson, we are easily over a minute. I used to ask several times, now I ask once and then put the timer up. The sight of the timer is now usually enough (think Pavlov's Dogs).
    I started at this school after October half term. I set my stall out, and they are slowly coming around to my way of working. Like I said, Pavlov's Dogs.
    Fine, that works for you and your husband in your respective schools. Each school and each teacher is different. I guess that you each have more than 1 years worth of qualified teaching under your belt too?


Share This Page