Our Lucky Little Learners community is a special place. It’s a forum where teachers from around the world gather to discuss best practices, look for advice and inspiration, shower praise on their students and colleagues, and sometimes – just vent. One of the most popular topics we see talked about again and again in our Lucky 2nd Grade Teachers Facebook Group is talkative classes. How can you corral the chatter so you can get through a lesson without interruptions? How do you ease transitions so the room doesn’t erupt into chaos? Will that one student ever quiet down long enough to listen to the directions?
We get it! When the class chattiness is on overdrive, it’s time to give something new a try. Keep reading for ideas and strategies shared by the teachers in our Lucky Little Learners community on how to deal with a talkative class.
I) Routines to Help With a Talkative Class
It may sound like a no-brainer, but the importance of establishing routines and procedures from the first day of school cannot be missed. Model, review, and reinforce the routines and procedures often, and don’t be afraid to start over. We all need a reset button sometimes! Review classroom expectations and give visual reminders with expectation charts.
Teach appropriate voice levels
“During whole group instruction, we have practiced when it’s ok to talk. We do a lot of turn-to-shoulder buddy and discuss. I have opportunities for them to talk, and then when we do center work, or seat work, I let them library-level chat. The first 2 weeks it’s pretty chatty but once they realize that it’s ok to chat when we aren’t in a whole group lesson they chat but not as much. We are social beings… why fight it all day long? Whole group lessons aren’t an issue, they know now is not the time.” B.R., Lucky 2nd Grade Teacher
Give chat breaks
“Something that works for me is scheduling “talking time”. It might be 3 minutes here, 2 minutes there or if they’ve worked hard 5 minutes. Really make a distinction between “my time” which means teaching time, and “their time”. If you have a rule breaker, call them out for not holding up their end of the deal. When I tell a student, “You aren’t playing fair, I didn’t interrupt your (talking) time, so why are you interrupting my time?” It hits home. So, during snack time, recess, talking time, I try to be totally silent and not interrupt so that they fully get “their time”.B.P., Lucky 2nd Grade Teacher
“I use time in the beginning of the day to get the chatter out. School is a social place for them and by letting them have conversations they learn a lot too, and by listening it gives me ideas on things we can work with, what interest them. If we have time we usually do a shorter round at the end of the day too. This has stopped a lot of the talking in the classroom…”L.K., Lucky 2nd Grade Teacher
Integrate movement breaks
Get students up and moving with frequent movement breaks. You can find some of our favorite brain breaks and attention-getters in this blog post!
Use a wireless doorbell
Need a nonverbal cue to get students to listen? Use a wireless doorbell or similar chime to get students’ attention. With a little tech-savvy, you can even program doorbells with different sounds for different activities (example: stop activity, line up, freeze, etc). Check out more creative ways to use a doorbell in the classroom here.
Try voice level lights
Give your students a visual reminder of what voice level they should use with voice level lights. Use tap lights to indicate the level needed for the activity (silent, whisper, table talk, partner talk, etc).
Offer incentives: Quiet critters and desk pets
Quiet critters and desk pets – the ultimate distraction, or a routine classroom incentive that is worth the work? Students may not be able to resist having a quiet critter or desk pet, and will adjust their behavior to earn this special reward. Here’s how one teacher uses them in her classroom:
“I use them in my classroom. Right now they’re sitting in the jar waiting for my students to be quiet. My kids are very excited about using them and are trying really hard to be quiet during independent time. Once I place a quiet critter on the desk the students need to be quiet. If they touch the critter it goes back into the jar. It takes a while for the kids to get used to it. Right now they’re just sitting in the jar. They have to be quiet for at least three days for the critters to come out. Next week we will start having critters on our desk. Ease into it. The kids will come around and really want them on their desks. It does take time and there have been years that my kids didn’t get the critters until November.”A.J., Lucky 2nd Grade Teacher
II) Rethink the Consequences
Every behavior stems from a need. If students are talking constantly, they are displaying a need for connection and communication. Limiting their opportunities for free movement, play, and thinking (like taking away recess, free time, or enforcing silent snack/lunch) may make the talkative issue worse. Instead, reinforce positive behavior by highlighting when students are doing a great job. Look for the good, and you will find it!
“With my most talkative class I used a wind-up music box that could be switched on and off. I would wind it up at the beginning of the day. Every time I was ready to talk and they kept talking, I would switch it on and let it play until everyone was quiet. If they had any music left on it at the end of the day they would get a 5 minute recess, drawing time, or other quick reward. At the beginning I would give a reward if they had music left at lunch, and again at the end of the day. When they were successful at that I extended it to all day.”S.W., Lucky 2nd Grade Teacher
“As a group they compete for points by following rules and expectations. The team with the most points at the end of the month wind a prize from the treasure box. They regulate each other.”M.L., Lucky 2nd Grade Teacher
“Every time they are ‘caught’ being quiet they get some added and when it’s full, they get a special day! PJ/movie day, bring your favorite board game, etc.”A.R., Lucky 2nd Grade Teacher
Use brag tags to reinforce positive behavior. Find out how to use Brag Tags in the classroom by reading this post.
Play Bubble Bounce
Encourage mindful concentration and silence with this relaxing bubble bounce video. Like any skill, active, silent listening requires practice and persistence.
Creatively manage impulsivity
Sometimes students feel like they just have to share with the class, and blurt out! It can be so hard for young learners to manage impulsivity. Our Social Emotional Learning curriculum features a self-control unit. Filled with lessons, centers, songs, and read alouds, the SEL self-control unit may help a chatty class channel their behaviors.
Download Self-Control SEL Activities HERE
III) Rearrange the Classroom Seating
Sometimes changing the seating arrangement is all it takes to curb the chatter. We’ve rounded up some examples of unique seating arrangements to fit any classroom. You can check it out here.
Check out this post for proactive ways to help a talkative class:
Have you tried any of the strategies listed here? What works for you to keep a talkative class on target? Tell us in the comments below!