Even experienced teachers can sometimes find it difficult to quiet a noisy classroom. But having a few tricks at the ready can help you take back control and achieve a silent classroom.
1) Stand near the noisy students
This one’s a classic that most teachers learn early in their career. If the class is being too rowdy, standing near the loudest students can get them to settle down, especially if you stay silent while doing it.
Keep in mind that how a teacher decides to use their presence in the classroom can be very powerful.
2) Try a countdown
How you react can also have a big impact. Establish a rule at the beginning of the year that if the class gets too noisy or off-task, you’ll start a countdown at the front of the room. Students should know early on that if the clock counts down to zero, there will be a consequence, such as an extra homework assignment.
Tools like Classcraft’s Countdown feature (“The White Mountain Trek”) can even link student’s behavior to points that have meaning for them, such as gaining Experience Points (XP) or Gold Pieces (GP) if they quiet down or losing Health Points (HP) if they don’t.
The absence of sound can be effective in general. 7th grade teacher and Classcraft ambassador Meagan Frazier told us, “I also play a lot of music in class, so when music is turned off they know to come back.”
3) Use a volume measuring app
Volume apps can give students an even clearer visual understanding of how much noise they’re making at any given time.
There are different noise apps out there to choose from, including Classcraft’s Volume Meter, which shows the class volume in real time and enables teachers to set a reward that students gain if they’re quiet (earning XP and/or GP) or a penalty they’ll face if they’re too loud (losing HP). This has real meaning for students since it affects their avatar and their team in the game.
4) Get clear on what’s ‘too loud’
Making expectations clear and upfront can keep student behavior on the right track and help you achieve a quiet classroom. Rob McKenzie, a 4th grade teacher and Classcraft ambassador from Pennsylvania, says that his elementary school puts up posters so kids understand what voice levels they should be using in different situations. This can help students course-correct their own behavior to what’s appropriate for a certain setting or activity.
Middle school teacher and ambassador Tara Artusa-Ballard added that practicing what each voice level sounds like is important to their understanding. Just be sure to warn any neighboring classrooms before you test out a “level five.”
5) Foster a positive classroom culture
Overall, it’s important to remember that taking the time to build positive classroom culture can go a long way to having a quiet classroom. By developing an amiable, trusting relationship with your students upfront, they’ll be more likely to be respectful in the long run.
One step to accomplishing this is to take an interest in what your students are passionate about. What movies or TV shows have they watched recently? What games do they play? If you can, watch or play them yourself so you can participate authentically in conversations around them.
You can also build little lighthearted moments into your classroom, such as greeting students with a high-five, having a special Friday routine, or using callbacks where you say a phrase and students complete it. (My third grade teacher taught us to finish phrases he’d drop into lessons randomly to see if we were paying attention. Eg., He’s say, “Space …”, and we’d say, “… the final frontier!”.
Because this approach focuses on creating positive shared experiences, it’s a fun and easy way to encourage students to take part in the daily classroom management and ensure a quiet classroom.