Quieten down your classroom, without losing your voice!
We’ve all been there. Your students are going crazy, something happened at lunchtime (they probably saw a rare bird – which was actually a seagull, or someone’s shoe ended up on the roof) to set them off and they just won’t calm down. You feel like you’re at breaking point and you know it’s not long before your voice will go. Here are some of my favourite non-verbal techniques to calm down your class before you develop a nervous twitch. They will take practice, but they WILL work!
- Use music
This will only work in your classroom or a smaller space, but play a catchy song that the kids will know. Silently reward the kids who stop and sing along with team points/rewards. You could set up a small class reward if everyone has stopped and are quietly and appropriately singing by the chorus. Catchy songs include Havana, Can’t Stop the Feeling, Wrecking Ball, Happy, Roar and I’m a Believer.
- Use an instrument
Choose an instrument such as bells, Buddha bowls, a harmonica, rainsticks, rattle or a triangle. Make a game out of it! You could:
- First to put their hand up wins
- First to put their hand up when they can no longer hear the sound
- If the class is silent by the time you stop playing the instrument they get a class reward (lunch 1 minute early, work towards a game at the end of the week, a youtube video at the end of the day etc)
I’m not talking about the usual clap rhythm that students have to copy and repeat back, but instead whisper instructions. Say something like ‘if you’re listening clap four times.’ ‘If you’re listening clap 7 times’ until the whole room is responding.
A fun call to attention is a Simon Says style response. Quietly say ‘If you’re listening wave your arms around.’ ‘If you’re listening jump up and down 3 times’. ‘If you’re listening wobble like jelly.’ You can throw in ones like ‘stand on your head!’ if there is a group of kids still not listening which should grab their attention!
I find this one to be the most effective and it gets the most disruptive kids saying ‘She’s counting! Stop talking!!’ I like to count backwards from 5. Whatever number I land on is how many class points they get. If I get to 0, I start counting backwards into negatives and that’s how many points the teacher gets. How many points there are at the end of the day determines if they get a reward like a few minutes free time or a class Youtube video to end the day on. Soon enough, you’ll only need to put your hand in the air and they will start to quieten down (and if not, their friend will let them know to!).
- Quiet Spray
This usually only works in early years classes, but some older classes find it cute and play along too. Get a spray bottle and fill it with water and a few drops of an essential oil. Model the spray bottle and show the kids that it has magic powers and when it’s sprayed it turns their voices off. Show them by talking, spray it and then only move your mouth. They will find it hilarious and want to join in too! You can get cute labels from TPT or your quiet spray bottle too. I have had parents ask me where to buy this magical quiet spray because their child has told them about its magical powers!
I hope that some of these tips help save your voice and your sanity in the classroom. What is your go to quiet down strategy?