There is a common misconception that effective classroom management means silence.
It means rigidness and tight restriction. It means backs straight and eyes forward.
Hour after hour.
And while there are teachers who try to run their classroom this way, or think they should, here at SCM we think it’s a terrible idea.
Because it limits social and academic growth.
It causes boredom, resentment, and a strong dislike for school.
It makes every day an agonizing, tension-filled slog to dismissal.
Of course, there are blocks of time throughout the day when your students should be quiet. Uninterrupted independent work, to use one example, is a critical component of learning.
But this is an academic strategy, not a way to keep students under your thumb.
To create a healthy, well-behaved environment, your students need breaks. They need opportunities to stretch their legs and recharge their batteries.
Teacher-led exercises are a good idea.
Jumping jacks, desk push-ups, air curls, arm circles, static poses, and jogging-in-place are simple ways to clear the boards and provide energy for the next activity.
Dancing and lip syncing to music, depending on your grade level, also work well and are especially fun. Just a few minutes between lessons add flavor to the day and give students another reason to love school.
But there is one particular type of break that seems to work best of all. It’s fast and easy and students really, really appreciate it.
Now, it’s important to point out that letting students continue to talk because that’s what they’re already doing is a bad idea and will only make matters worse.
The form of talking I’m referring to is structured and defined by the teacher. In other words, you first model what a talking break looks like before letting your students loose.
You lay out your expectations by showing precisely what is and isn’t okay. A reminder that you’ll follow your classroom management plan as usual is also a good idea.
I recommend giving your students two to four minutes to move about the room and talk with whoever they wish.
As for the topic, you can either let them chat about whatever they like or, again, depending on your grade level, provide a topic for them. “Share with someone your favorite superhero and why.”
Bookend the break with a signal to start and a signal to return to their seats.
I like to begin abruptly with something like “Get up and say hello to your friends!” and close with simply “Times up.”
When it’s over and you’re ready to move on to the next lesson or activity, you’ll have a more receptive class. They’ll sit up a little straighter and listen more intently.
They’ll have more energy to focus and the clarity of mind to better understand.
Giving students a few minutes to talk with their friends is a simple little thing. But it effectively shakes the restlessness out of their system.
It wakes them up and gets the blood flowing. It activates the brain and buoys the heart.
It settles. It calms. It motivates.
It prepares them for the challenges that lie ahead.
If you haven’t done so already, please join us. It’s free! Click here and begin receiving classroom management articles like this one in your email box every week.