Children are naturally noisy They like talking and sharing ideas and thoughts with their classmates. They have an inbuilt enthusiasm for learning which can lead to noisy and exuberant classrooms.
You can take positive steps so that this quest for knowledge is channeled into building a successful learning environment.
You can employ a number of strategies and techniques to help the children manage their noise levels to produce a productive learning environment. It would be unfair to expect the children to be quiet all of the time so you need to plan for opportunities in the classroom where the pupils can freely express themselves and other activities where children can work more quietly when completing certain tasks.
You can use a traffic lights system to make it explicit to the children of the expected noise levels for particular class activities. The colour codes can clearly signal to the class when they should be working co-operatively or individually. Display a traffic light shape at the front of the classroom and add coloured circles to represent the three lights. You can show a red light when the class should be working individually and concentrating on their own work without interacting with other pupils. An amber light can be displayed for activities where children can seek support from their classmates about a task that they are completing. You can show a green light when the class are engaged in co-operative activities that require them to discuss ideas with other pupils.
It is important that during class discussions the children understand the importance of listening and responding to each other and the teacher. When asking questions about a topic you can get the children to think of a response by themselves initially before sharing their thoughts with a partner. This will give everyone an opportunity to discuss a topic question before allowing selected children to then share their ideas and thoughts with the whole class. You can choose some children as the question responders before asking the question so that they know they will have to share their ideas with the whole class after discussing with a partner.
If your class are notoriously bad about settling down ready for a class discussion then you can employ a time limit strategy to get the class focused and ready to work. At the start of the week, you can reward the class with fifteen minutes of extra playtime for Friday afternoon. During the week, you can subtract time from the extra playtime when you need to wait for the class to get ready for a class discussion or the next activity. Choose a signal such as clapping your hands or tinkling a small bell as a signal that the class should stop and listen for your instruction. After the signal you can slowly count down from ten and then at zero subtract the time it takes for the class to stop and listen from the fifteen minutes of extra playtime. Use a timer displayed on the board to keep a record of how much extra playtime is remaining.
Use a reward system to make it clear to the children the noise levels that are expected in the classroom for specific activities. Display an empty jar at the front of the classroom and place a marble inside the jar when you notice the class working at expected noise levels during the activity. Once the jar has been filled then the class can receive a reward. You can get the children to select their own reward to receive as a group such as an afternoon of painting, an extra PE lesson or a class disco party.
If you have a small group of children in the classroom that are continually noisy then you need to think carefully about the seating arrangements in the classroom. Instead of sitting the children by ability groups try sitting them in respect to their behaviour so that you have a mix of noisy and quiet pupils. You can place a teddy bear on different tables to show which group are performing the best in respect to noise levels. The table that still has the bear at the end of the week can receive a small reward.
Whispering and Staring
If your class are having problems concentrating on what you are saying then try and whisper instructions and information to the classroom. You can add strange and unusual comments into what you are saying to check that the class are listening to exactly what you have said. Alternatively, if any child in the classroom starts talking during your instructions or information then simply stop and stare at the child until they modify their behaviour. Don’t say anything until the child returns to listening. If you have any repeat offenders then you can record their names on the board which can only be removed if they spend a whole discussion listening correctly. Any names on the board at the end of the day can miss out on a class reward.