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When "waiting for quiet" doesn't work...

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by helenemdee, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. helenemdee

    helenemdee Occasional commenter

    Hi

    I'm a primary supply teacher. I've been on supply about 14 months and in that time have managed to keep myself pretty busy, working for 3 different agencies and have taught every year group from R to Year 6. I really like being on supply due to its flexibility and the fact that I can go home at the end of the day and not have to spend hours planning and marking, which leaves me free to get on with the other things in my life (it's a shame I'm an NQT and thus have limited shelf life for supply work at present). Behaviour is often a problem, although I still seem to get good feedback from the schools I go to (maybe they think I do a good job in other areas so they overlook behaviour problems to an extent, or perhaps they're aware that children usually attempt to take advantage when a supply teacher is in, especially when there is no TA). I've never considered myself particularly good at managing behaviour (I left my first and second long-term positions because of poor behaviour management and have been largely on day-to-day since) and have read up endlessly on tips to improve. One thing I'm noticing is that, for me, the "waiting for silence" approach - the standing, looking bored, tapping foot, looking out of the window, looking at my watch, sighing loudly doesn't seem to work with getting and keeping children's attention. Although some will listen and sit up etc, others often chat on regardless. The "stare" seems to work for individuals and small groups, but as soon as I tuen the "stare" on another person/group who's talking or whatever, the first group seem to think they can pick up where they left off. Can anyone suggest any strategies to gain and keep children's attention without wasting silly amounts of lesson time and also without losing both my voice and my authority by having to shout over them?
    Thanks for any help
    Helen xx
     
  2. helenemdee

    helenemdee Occasional commenter

    Hi

    I'm a primary supply teacher. I've been on supply about 14 months and in that time have managed to keep myself pretty busy, working for 3 different agencies and have taught every year group from R to Year 6. I really like being on supply due to its flexibility and the fact that I can go home at the end of the day and not have to spend hours planning and marking, which leaves me free to get on with the other things in my life (it's a shame I'm an NQT and thus have limited shelf life for supply work at present). Behaviour is often a problem, although I still seem to get good feedback from the schools I go to (maybe they think I do a good job in other areas so they overlook behaviour problems to an extent, or perhaps they're aware that children usually attempt to take advantage when a supply teacher is in, especially when there is no TA). I've never considered myself particularly good at managing behaviour (I left my first and second long-term positions because of poor behaviour management and have been largely on day-to-day since) and have read up endlessly on tips to improve. One thing I'm noticing is that, for me, the "waiting for silence" approach - the standing, looking bored, tapping foot, looking out of the window, looking at my watch, sighing loudly doesn't seem to work with getting and keeping children's attention. Although some will listen and sit up etc, others often chat on regardless. The "stare" seems to work for individuals and small groups, but as soon as I tuen the "stare" on another person/group who's talking or whatever, the first group seem to think they can pick up where they left off. Can anyone suggest any strategies to gain and keep children's attention without wasting silly amounts of lesson time and also without losing both my voice and my authority by having to shout over them?
    Thanks for any help
    Helen xx
     
  3. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Hi Helen
    The simple answer requires effort: if they still won't let you talk when you wait, then simply give out the task, and take names of those who don't comply. Then they miss a break; or after school time; or you call home- as long as some consequence occurs as a result of their misbehaviour. This is the missing link- some children won't behave unless they know that there will be some kind of undesirable outcome for them. Some don't have many boundaries at home, and need to be taught them at school.
    It takes time, and lots of follow up. And it means you might have to go the extra mile. But see it as an investment in the future; you reap the benefits in time.
    Good luck
    Read more from Tom here on his blog, or follow him.
     
  4. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    I find a lengthy one to one discussion with the main culprits on the reasons why following instructions is important and why we don't interrupt teachers usually helps things along (particularly if this conversation is during break or after school)
    Getting parents involved sometimes helps (although it can backfire if the parents are not supportive)
    The main thing is perseverance. It won't work immediately. With some pupils it won't work all the time. Stick at it and things will improve.
     
  5. I recommend creating an interactive lesson using Soundfield, a voice amplifier system which means no vocal strain as you won't have to be shouting. Even shy students are keen to participate when using the student mic as they want to be involved. The student mic can be used at the same time as the teachers’ microphone for class discussions and i think the children like the novelty of using a microphone.
    Good luck!
     
  6. Hi Helen,
    As a TA I get to see many teachers and supply teachers in action. The best supply teacher I know does the silent "waiting for quiet" face and if they don't respond straightaway she writes a number 10 on the whiteboard. Some children notice and nudge each other. She looks around, waits a few more seconds then rubs it out and writes 20. They all start to catch on and when they are eventually quiet she tells them that the whole class now owe her that many seconds at play time. It works. next time she asks for quiet and they don't respond she repeats it - this time they respond immediately as they know what she's up to. Now when she turns up on supply they are familiar with her and know she means business. She always follows through and keeps them in at playtime. She is very matter of fact about it - unruffled, not angry, it's just a busines-like approach and it works (across KS2 anyway).

    The same teacher also puts initials on the board (which I do aswell) for good behaviour. The extra thing she does is gives out prizes for the best behaved pupils from a bag she keeps topped up with pencils rubbers etc, I can't afford this - I just give house points at the end of the lesson!

    Hope this helps [​IMG]
     
  7. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    That sounds like quite a good system but like any other it would take a while to establish. The main thing is that you don't expect immediate miracles. When it comes to behaviour management there aren't really any shortcuts or magic wands.
    Consistency, clarity, fairness and perseverance are what is needed. Exactly what you do is not hugely important if you have those things. different teachers and different schools have very different successful systems and strategies for managing behaviour but in my experience they all have those things in common.
     
  8. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    I'm no softy but whole-class punishments are can't be justified imo.

    Also, 20 seconds - seriously, who would care?
     

  9. I'm no softy but whole-class punishments are can't be justified imo.
    If the whole class isn't settling, the whole class pays her back. If one child were being persistently rude then she would take them out of golden time - we have other sanctions we can resort to but this is a supply teacher asking for advice specifically about getting whole class attention. It does not take a while to establish (in reply to the other poster who said that) - it has an immediate effect.

    I have also seen her ( in a class that has some good, some bad for settling), put initials on the board of those people who aren't doing as they are told straight away (keeping everyone waiting) and just those pupils are kept behind a couple of minutes at end. Maybe some get a tick next to initials and that is an extra minute.
    I hasten to add that there is always lots of praise and she is seen as a "fun" teacher by the children despite being extremely effective at keeping order.
    Also, 20 seconds - seriously, who would care?
    Of course they wouldn't care about 20 seconds but it mounts up over a whole lesson and can be minutes until they learn to behave. Imagine the hassle of going back to your classroom after assembly and having to sit in silence for a couple of minutes when you want to go out & play.


     
  10. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    It's highly unlikely that every single pupil would be guilty.
    If it's mounting up then it's obviously a strategy that isn't working.
    Imagine being a pupil and just not turning up to such a detention because you know that whole-class detentions are difficult to justify to parents.

    Btw, to quote someone, just highlight the bit you're interested in and press the quote button (above the box in which you write). [​IMG]
     
  11. Thanks for the tip - this is my first post on this forum.
    I agree with you in principle about whole class detentions so it's a matter of context. I've thought about it and the times she used the minute thing it really was the whole class just being chatty and it was the first time she had that class so they were just disrespecting the supply teacher as they all do at first. They weren't a bad class, just bubbly and we are talking about seconds - it was the very fact of there being a direct consequence, no matter that it was small. They really did notice, it got their attention and it did work. They came to know that this teacher expects us to sharpen up and be ready to listen straight away. I guess you have to find what works for you but the original question was posted by someone who wasn't gaining their attention or respect by simply waiting.
    The other thing this teacher did with writing the names on the board (that I mentioned before), she does in the scenario where it is just the same few who are always disrupting.
    So it's horses for courses. I've suggested 2 things - only you will know whether they would work for your class on a particular day.
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Count down from 5. If they're still talking, put 1 min on the board. Keep doing it until there is quiet. It works on secondary kids.
     

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