You don’t always have to make big, dramatic changes to see classroom management improvement.
Sometimes it can be a slight adjustment.
A small change in the way you do things, in how you speak, move, or relate to students, can make a big difference.
Your voice is a good example.
Most teachers talk too loud. They turn up the volume because they believe that the louder they are the better their students will listen.
But it isn’t true.
Students tune out teachers who bark commands and instructions. To them it sounds like nagging or threatening or that their teacher doesn’t think they’re bright enough to follow along otherwise.
This is why students often grudgingly follow directions or ignore them altogether.
To encourage good listening, and a desire to follow directions, a soft-spoken approach is in order.
Your students will become still.
When you lower your voice, your students will intuitively stop moving so they can hear you. They’ll stop fidgeting, tapping, and rustling. They’ll stop whispering and twisting in their seats. They’ll stop crumbling paper.
They’ll stop all the annoying behaviors that frustrate you, interrupt your train of thought, and cause you to repeat yourself.
Your students will lean in and look at you.
It’s best to speak just soft enough that the students in the back of the room have to strain ever so slightly to hear you. This way, when you speak, your students will lean in and watch you as you form the words.
Looking at you helps them understand what is being said. It helps them focus on you and your message. When you speak loudly, on the other hand, they’re encouraged to look away, move around, and busy themselves with other things.
Your students will want to listen.
When you speak pleasantly and calmly while giving directions, the information goes down a lot smoother. And because it sounds polite, because it sounds like you believe in your students and their ability to listen, you can ask so much more of them.
Like all of us, students appreciate being spoken to with respect. They like being trusted with the information you give them, and not hammered over the head with it. Thus, they’ll return the favor by doing what you ask.
Your students will be calmer.
Speaking softly has a calming effect on students. Just by opening your mouth you’ll be able to release classroom excitability and nervous tension—which is most often caused by loud, stressed-out, and fast-moving teachers.
A calm, polite voice sends the message that you’re in control of the class and that you know exactly what you’re doing. This is a comforting, even soothing, notion to students. And it frees them to concentrate on their learning.
Your students will take up your cue.
In many ways a class takes on the personality of their teacher, and if you shout your directions and talk over your students, you’ll have a noisy, chaotic classroom.
What you do is more influential than what you say. So when you quiet your voice and speak politely to your students, they’ll do the same. They’ll use gentler voices and be more respectful when they speak to you, as well as each other.
Tell Them What You Want
Passion and enthusiasm are important to good teaching. So when you’re presenting a lesson, motivating your troops, or playing a game with your students, let the moment dictate the volume and intensity of your voice.
Cut loose and be the inspirational teacher you were meant to be.
But when you’re giving directions, handling behavior issues, and otherwise attending to the day-to-day operations of your class, it’s best to dial it down.
Stand in one place, look your students in the eye, and speak to them in a soft voice.
Tell them exactly what you want.
And they’ll give it to you.
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