If a class becomes a little noisy or if students are getting chatty, I’ll often just stand and wait, silently.
It often only takes 15-20 seconds before a student will say “quiet” or “shhh” or “Mr Rogers is waiting”.
It’s a non-confrontational way to make students aware that they need to listen.
When the students do quieten down, you can begin with a “Thank you. Now….”
Sanction fairly and with a purpose
Your school may have a ‘sanctions policy’ or system. Do you know exactly what it is?
Whole-school sanctions systems are a great idea, but they only work if they are reasonable and if they are applied consistently by every member of the teaching staff. This may involve reminding teachers of the system that they should be using during weekly meetings or briefings.
If you do sanction, they do it fairly. Don’t turn a blind eye to it for one student, but then sanction another for the same action.
Make sure sanctions have a definite purpose, otherwise, they’ll make behaviour even worse.
A classic example of such a foolish sanction was announced very recently by Ninestiles school in Birmingham, England. The school announced last week that any student found talking on the corridors would automatically be given a 20-minute detention. You can read the full story here.
This particular sanction is foolish and illogical for a number of reasons:
- It’s very difficult to implement properly, and would require ‘corridor monitors’ to be in place which I would imagine would eat into teachers’ already limited free–time
- What are the educational disadvantages of talking on the corridors? Non that I can find anywhere. In Finland (a country that is considered to have one of the best educational systems in the world), students are typically given 15-minute breaks between lessons where they can relax and socialize both indoors and outdoors. Don’t kids need some downtime?
- The sanction doesn’t match the problem. If the school managers are really concerned about students talking between lessons and how this affects their learning (which seems puzzling to me), then address the issue through assemblies, PSHE lessons and tutor time. Educate students about why being quiet on the corridors is important, and how they can benefit from moving to class quickly and calmly.
- Students often discuss work, progress and upcoming tests as they are walking on the corridors. They often give each other tips about what to study and may even offer encouragement to each other. Don’t kids need this?
- Poor behaviour on the corridors is most likely a symptom of a poor overall behaviour management system that’s already in place at the school. When students feel happy in their learning, are excellence-driven and want to succeed, they don’t tend to mess about on the corridors in dramatic ways. Rather than punishing all students who talk, why not just focus on those who are taking it to the next level: those who kick a football on the corridor, or run, or mess-around. But talking? Is talking really that bad?
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