Is your class extra talkative or chatty this year and you’re not sure how to deal with it? I think all teachers have had that class - the one where it seems like the students just can't stop talking. It can be frustrating, but don't worry, there are ways to handle a chatty class without losing your mind.
Set Clear Expectations
The first thing to look at when you are dealing with a chatty class is your classroom management. Have you set clear expectations for your class? Do they know exactly when it’s okay to talk and when it’s not?
Leigh from the Applicious Teacher suggests having a double-sided sign that says talking and no talking that is displayed in the classroom. This can be especially helpful in lower primary grades. I have also seen teachers that use push lights to signal the talking levels. I have a voice level poster displayed in my room along with CHAMPS expectations for each activity. Students are aware of not only their voice level throughout the day but also any movement using the CHAMPS boards.
Whenever a new student joins your classroom, the dynamics shift. Make sure to review the expectations about your class for the new student. This is also a great time for a refresher for the rest of the class.
Use Positive Reinforcement
When students are following the rules and staying on task, praise and acknowledge them for their efforts. This will encourage them to continue positive behavior and discourage excessive talking. I like to use Whole Brain Teaching’s Scoreboard to collect points for positive behavior. Use your clear expectations and let your class know exactly what behavior will earn points on the scoreboard.
Try Quiet Critters
Quiet Critters have been around for years and for good reason! Students love working quietly for the incentive of a Quiet Critter to join their desk. The secret to it working is all in how you present this simple idea to the class.
- Show them the jar of Quiet Critters.
- Tell them they frighten easily if it is noisy.
- They can visit until they get scared.
- If they are scared, they return to the jar or they go to someone else for babysitting.
You can read more about this super cute and easy idea on A Sunny Day in First Grade.
Use Blurt Beans
Blurt Beans is another great tool for positive reinforcement that is tried and true. Simply get a large amount of dried beans and two jars.
- Decide on three classwide incentives.
- Label one jar with the incentives with easier incentives on the bottom and harder ones on top.
- Start each day with 5 beans for each student.
- Students that blurt out lose a bean each time and must put it in the holding container.
- Beans left with students at the end of the day go into the reward jar. When the class reaches the marked incentive, they earn it.
Keep Students Engaged
Another way to deal with a chatty class is to look at your class engagement. Are students being given the opportunity to talk during lessons or activities? What percentage are you talking versus the students?
Use a variety of teaching methods, including visual aids, group work, and interactive lessons. Ask questions and encourage discussion, but make sure to set boundaries and keep the conversation focused on the lesson. I have noticed a difference in off-task talking when I started incorporating more group work.
I love to do something in my class called Good Things which I talked about in Classroom Management Quick Wins. Good Things is a great way to start off my class with building relationships but also giving students a way to tell me about themselves. When students feel valued and respected, they are more likely to behave well in the classroom.
It only takes 5 minutes and it reduces a lot of those lesson interruptions. You know the kind - a student raises their hand and you think they’ll answer the question but they want to tell you about when their cousin came over yesterday.
Stay Calm and Consistent
When dealing with a chatty class, it’s important to stay calm and consistent. Don’t lose your temper or become frustrated. Instead, take a deep breath and continue to remind students of your clear expectations that you have set. Follow through with your consequences. Be consistent and you will see results.
Creating anchor charts for your expectations can be helpful for students and for you to help remain consistent. List with your class the times they can talk and the times they should be listening. Make sure everyone is on the same page before you begin one of the strategies mentioned in the beginning of this post. The more clear you are, the easier it will be to reward students for following your expectations.
By using these tips and tricks, you can improve your classroom management skills and reduce talking in the classroom. Remember to set clear expectations, use positive reinforcement, engage students, and stay calm and consistent. Don’t forget that building relationships with your students is key to having a class that is responsive to your expectations. Best of luck!