Take Control of the Noisy Class: From Chaos to Calm in 15 Seconds by Rob Pelvin

3. Giving Clear Instruction

  • Issuing clear instructions is about ensuring that we communicate the right message to our students in the right way, so as to minimize confusion and confrontation. Note that as much as 75% of communication is non-verbal. This includes tone of voice. If you drop the volume of your normal classroom voice to the level you would use to speak in a restaurant, your students may quieten down to listen to you. Look to have students paraphrase your requests. Rob suggests giving clear directions ending with “thank you” rather than asking questions.

4. Consequences

  • There are a multitude of effective preventive strategies that we can use to encourage and support students to stay on the right track before we need to resort to sanctioning. You do need consequences, but don’t use the big guns too soon. Above all you need to keep cool so you can deliver consequences in a calm manner (ideally in private). You need to be fair and consistent and always follow through. Rob explains how to conduct a private meeting with a student who has misbehaved excessively. Be sure to listen to the student’s side of the story. Work with the student to create a plan for going forward. The consequences that Rob uses are also listed. The chapter ends with three example case studies.

5. The Number One Secret to Effective Classroom Management

  • I hope you were able to guess that it’s a positive student-teacher relationship. You can’t trust someone you don’t know. Here is an excerpt from a friend of Rob’s who was a department head. “‘There’s no magic to it,’ he said. ‘It just boils down to this: I know these kids. I’ve spent time with them. I go to support them playing football, I chat with them in the corridor, I regularly speak to their parents on the telephone, I visit their homes, I’ve taken them on trips and I sit with them at lunchtime. The door to my room is always open to them – they know they can come and chat when something’s wrong – and I make a point of catching up with them whenever.”
  • The two essential factors are frequent communication and showing we care. Rob explores multiple ways of doing this. First you need to find a subject students what to talk about. Ask about their interests and do some research if you need to. For starters give each student a card with questions that seek favorite music, TV shows, sports, etc. Ask for advice, ask for a favor, or give them a compliment. Learn names as fast as possible and use them. Model good listening. Attend after school events and look for opportunities to do unexpected acts of kindness.
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