The key to this principle is to circulate. Get up and get around the room. While your students are working, make the rounds. Check on their progress.
An effective teacher will make a pass through the whole room about two minutes after the students have started a written assignment. She checks that each student has started, that the children are on the correct page, and that everyone has put their names on their papers. The delay is important. She wants her students to have a problem or two finished so she can check that answers are correctly labelled or in complete sentences. She provides individualized instruction as needed.
Students who are not yet quite on the task will be quick to get going as they see her approach. Those that were distracted or slow to get started can be nudged along.
The teacher does not interrupt the class or try to make general announcements unless she notices that several students have difficulty with the same thing. The teacher uses a quiet voice and her students appreciate her personal and positive attention.
There is a saying that goes “Values are caught, not taught.” Teachers who are courteous, prompt, enthusiastic, in control, patient and organized provide examples for their students through their own behaviour. The “do as I say, not as I do” teachers send mixed messages that confuse students and invite misbehaviour.
If you want students to use quiet voices in your classroom while they work, you too will use a quiet voice as you move through the room helping youngsters.
3. Using Non-Verbal Cues
A standard item in the classroom of the 1950s was the clerk’s bell. A shiny nickel bell sat on the teacher’s desk. With one tap of the button on top, he had everyone’s attention. Teachers have shown a lot of ingenuity over the years in making use of non-verbal cues in the classroom. Some flip light switches. Others keep clickers in their pockets.
Non-verbal cues can also be facial expressions, body posture and hand signals. Care should be given in choosing the types of cues you use in your classroom. Take time to explain what you want the students to do when you use your cues.
4. Environmental Control
A classroom can be a warm cheery place. Students enjoy an environment that changes periodically. Study centres with pictures and colour invite enthusiasm for your subject.
Young people like to know about you and your interests. Include personal items in your classroom. A family picture or a few items from a hobby or collection on your desk will trigger personal conversations with your students. As they get to know you better, you will see fewer problems with discipline.
Just as you may want to enrich your classroom, there are times when you may want to impoverish it as well. You may need a quiet corner with few distractions. Some students will get caught up in visual exploration. For them, the splash and the colour is a siren that pulls them off task. They may need more “vanilla” and less “rocky-road.” Have a quiet place where you can steer these youngsters. Let them get their work done first and then come back to explore and enjoy the rest of the room.
5. Direct Instruction
Uncertainty increases the level of excitement in the classroom. The technique of direct instruction is to begin each class by telling the students exactly what will be happening. The teacher outlines what he and the students will be doing this period. He may set time limits for some tasks.
An effective way to marry this technique with the first one is to include time at the end of the period for students to do activities of their choosing. The teacher may finish the description of the hour’s activities with: “And I think we will have some time at the end of the period for you to chat with your friends, go to the library, or catch up on work for other classes.”
The teacher is more willing to wait for class attention when he knows there is extra time to meet his goals and objectives. The students soon realize that the more time the teacher waits for their attention, the less free time they have at the end of the hour.
Be sure you have the attention of everyone in your classroom before you start your lesson. Don’t attempt to teach over the chatter of students who are not paying attention.
Inexperienced teachers sometimes think that by beginning their lesson, the class will settle down. The children will see that things are underway now and it is time to go to work. Sometimes this works, but the children are also going to think that you are willing to compete with them, that you don’t mind talking while they talk, or that you are willing to speak louder so that they can finish their conversation even after you have started the lesson. They get the idea that you accept their inattention and that it is permissible to talk while you are presenting a lesson.
The focusing means that you will demand their attention before you begin. It means that you will wait and not start until everyone has settled down. Experienced teachers know that silence on their part is very effective. They will punctuate their waiting by extending it 3 to 5 seconds after the classroom is completely quiet. Then they begin their lesson using a quieter voice than normal.
A soft-spoken teacher often has a calmer, quieter classroom than one with a stronger voice. Her students sit still in order to hear what she says.